This means a body mass index between 18.5-25. BMI is simply a measurement of your height/weight. Most athletes will either sit in the underweight or overweight to obese category; very rarely will they be average...let's think of our incredible defensive linemen here! The average BMI for an NFL player is 31.35.
That is average meaning including all positions, like our adorable little Hawks kicker Jon Ryan. So this means that the elite athletes that we cheer on are considered medically obese, at risk, and unhealthy. Does this make sense to you? Those boys are built like tanks.
Unfortunately, the average person makes their calorie decisions based solely on their gender, age, height, weight, and presumed exercise level. You have got to be kidding me. According to the infamous MyfitnessPal, my current BMR (basal metabolic rate) is 1,374 calories/day. This is the amount I would need to eat, per day, to maintain my current weight, assuming absolutely no movement. Now, if I use the same calculator and say that I am male (just change my gender), it reads out that my BMR is 1,541 calories/day. So what was the difference? The difference is the assumption that as a male I would have a higher lean body mass and therefore be burning more calories even while sedentary. Well, I know some very heavily muscled women and some very not heavily muscled men...do you see how quickly this calculator becomes inaccurate?
Now let's spice it up and add in activity! I do a minimum of 6 hours of high intensity training per week. To maintain my weight, as a male, I need to now eat 2,659 calories/day to maintain my weight. Same exact measurements and situation as a woman? Now I only need 2,373. That is almost a 300 calorie/day difference or a 2,000 calorie difference/week!
Well, if 3,500 calories = approximately one pound of fat, I'll either be losing a little over a pound of fat/muscle every two weeks instead of maintaining my weight or I'll be gaining a little over a pound of fat/muscle ever two weeks. Do you see how quickly this becomes a big issue? I could be doing every single thing right, weighing my food, and being religious about my logging and workouts and still completely failing out at my goals. Frustrating?
Even better, although I am currently 18.5% body fat, when I use a standard calculator and ask to clean bulk (slowly add on muscle while maintaining lean), the BMI based calculator actually informs me that my BMI is already dangerously high! At a BMI of 22, the calculator informs me that clean bulking is inappropriate for my weight. Thanks, fitness industry! I so value your opinion.
How can we expect someone, new to the fitness and health game, to possibly get their nutrition correct when they're hearing completely contradicting advice and huge variations in what they should and should not be doing and it's raining down on them from all angles?
Let's make it simple. For 5 days, write down EVERYTHING you eat. Make these normal days; don't change anything. Include every sauce, oil you cooked in, and beverage that went along with it. Weigh the food if you can; I want accuracy! Once you have all of that, I want you to calculate the averages of your daily calories and grams of proteins, carbs, and fats. Finally the hard part. Ask yourself: eating like this, am I gaining, losing, or maintaining my weight? If what is happening with your weight is NOT in line with your goals, make a SMALL adjustment to how much and what you're eating. I never recommend doing more than a 300 calorie change at a time either up or down, start slowly, readjust every 5 lbs of weight loss or gain. Then repeat this process. I do not believe in long term calorie counting but I believe that if you're lost it's a good place to start to become educated about what your body needs and how you normally eat.
If I ate like my BMI and not based on my lean body mass, I would be wasting through all of that precious muscle I'm trying to build. Muscle is not easy for us ladies. Fat loss is significantly harder than weight loss. Pay attention and take the time to be educated on YOU. You will not find a fitness or nutrition plan based on someone else that is 100% right for you. Take the time to learn yourself and I promise the results will shine through.