Weight Loss by the Numbers: What You Should Know

When you’re trying to lose weight, there are more factors to keep in mind than the number on the scale. Your weight loss plan will be more successful if you lose a reasonable number of pounds each week, aim for a healthy body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and know your target heart rate. Here are four of the most important weight loss numbers.

Number of Pounds to Lose Each Week

Image via Flickr by nanny snowflake

Losing weight too fast usually backfires. Our ancestors had to survive periods of famine, so our bodies try to hold onto fat. When your body detects a fast drop in fat, it enters starvation mode and slows your metabolism, making weight loss more difficult. Rapid weight loss can also cause you to lose muscle, which increases your risk of getting excess loose skin.

On average, women can safely lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, or about 4 to 8 pounds per month. These numbers can differ depending on your current weight and activity level; if you’re heavy and sedentary to begin with, you’ll see a more dramatic drop in weight.

Your Current and Ideal Body Mass Index

The least expensive and most convenient way to measure your body fat is to use the LifeSum BMI calculator. Your BMI is based on your weight and height, and it lets you know if you have a healthy amount of body fat. A healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9, the overweight range is 25 to 29.9, and anything over 30 indicates obesity.

There are factors that BMI doesn’t include, such as your sex, age, or amount of muscle. It also doesn’t tell you where exactly your body fat is. However, it provides a general idea of what weight is healthy for you.

Waist-to-Hip Ratio 

Because your BMI doesn’t tell you where your body carries the most weight, you should also know your waist-to-hip ratio. This number tells you if you’re carrying extra fat around your middle. People who carry excess weight around the stomach are at a higher risk of death than people who carry weight elsewhere on the body.

You get this number by dividing the circumference of your waist by the circumference of your hips. A healthy WHR for women is 0.85 or less. A number larger than that means your health is at risk, and you should discuss a weight loss plan with your doctor.

Target Heart Rate

If you want to get the most out of your workout, you’ll need to know what your target heart rate is. Basically, your target heart rate determines how quickly your heart should beat during a workout. It is a range of numbers that indicate your upper and lower limits for workout intensity.

If you exercise too far below the range, your fitness won’t progress much. Go too far above the range, and you’re pushing too hard. You should monitor your heart rate during exercise by stopping every now and then to check your pulse.

Make your weight loss plan work for you by taking these important numbers into account.

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