subscribe Signup for our Newsletter expand Expand Browser
Calorie Count Blog

What is Ideal Weight?

By Mary_RD on Apr 15, 2010 11:00 AM in Dieting & You
Edited By +Rachel Berman

“What is my ideal weight?” 

Calorie Counters ask in order to set a goal weight and doctors ask to assess degree of risk. Obesity is associated with "risks" like pregnancy complications, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and more, and underweight is risky too.  But being a little overweight may not be a problem at all.  In a meta-analysis published in The Lancet, overweight heart patients had a lower death rate compared to patients of normal weight.  And so it begs the question, what is ideal weight?

Rapid Weight Assessment

The weight categories - underweight, healthy weight, overweight, obese, and extremely obese - are used to describe ranges of the Body Mass Index or BMI.  The BMI is a tool used to quickly determine if someone is at a healthy weight.  The BMI is calculated using a person's height and weight.  The numerical answer is plotted on a chart divided into categories:

  • Underweight: less than 19
  • Healthy weight: 19 - 24
  • Overweight:  25 - 29
  • Obese:  30 - 34
  • Extremely obese: more than 35

These categories are traditionally used to monitor health status and to guide medical treatment.  The military follows BMI and it can show up in employment files and on report cards too.

But rapidity has trade offs. The BMI has limitations because it does not indicate whether the source of “mass” is fat or muscle or anything else and, as a result, weight can be misclassified. For instance, some athletes  have a large muscle mass and a high BMI but they are not obese, while a couch-potato may have a healthy BMI but too little muscle and relatively too much fat.  The BMI is also less accurate in the elderly because their muscle and bone have been reduced.

Weight vs. Fat

Since two people of the same weight may have different amounts of body fat, it is important to assess "fat" separately from "weight".  Waist measurement is the best assessment tool to measure dangerous abdominal fat.

Extra fat stored around the waist is riskier, health-wise, than fat stored in other places.  Risk for disease increases when a man's waist is 40 inches and a woman's waist is 35 or more.  To measure your waist, place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hip bone, make it snug but not compressed, relax, exhale, measure, and record the number with the date.  And then to differentiate between fat and muscle throughout the entire body,  body composition can be measured in a several ways. 

YOUR ideal weight

For most people, "ideal weight" or the healthy weight range is somewhere between BMI 19 and 24, although the range can extend to BMI 29 when a person is fit and free of health problems and fat is not stored around the waist.
A span between BMI 19 and 29 is quite a range.  For a for 5'5" tall woman, that is 60 pounds from 115!

But remember individual variation is huge.  There are so many different genetic tendencies.  And so, it turns out that ideal weight is the weight where you feel your best and are free from disease. It is a weight you can easily maintain with moderate eating and exercise.

As for me, a healthy, medium-framed woman at 4’11” with average muscularity and body fat, I feel best at an "ideal weight" between 105 and 110 pounds.   I have maintained that weight forever, although my weight is higher if I work out with weights.  As a young adult, I weighed 120 pounds but I didn't feel as good.  How about you?

Your thoughts…

What is your ideal weight?


I'm 5'4, 100lbs and my BMI of 17.2 considered 'underweight', but I've never been in the 'healthy weight category' and have never pushed over 105lbs even when I was at Uni, eating badly and not exercising. I've recently upped my exercise regime, with 10k training etc, but my weight hasn't changed at all. My body shape, tone, and endurace have, but my weight is where it's always been. So I take this as my healthy weight and BMI.

I do get sick of online calculators, and other users when they hear my stats, telling me I'm underweight. To look at, I don't look too skinny or malnourished. The fact my mum had a BMI  of 15.5 when she got marrie᥿ 9;d at 28 makes me think it's just my genet ;ics!

I wish that they would come up with an accurate way to calculate "HEALTHY" BMI.  If you work out and lift weights your BMI is always higher. 

I feel that the BMI should be used as a guide not an absolute, perhaps if they gave credence to your frame size instead of just height and weight.  I have a very small frame and have really always looked my best at around 100 to 105.  My suggested weight is 109 to 120 or WW put it at 120-135.  I would still look and feel heavy.  (Not to say with my weight now ant 175 I wouldn't be most happy with 135)


What a surprise, people are noticing that BMI is problematic.  BMI does not actually measure anything that has to do with health risks.  All of the health risks are associated with excess fat.  To determine that you need to estimate per cent body fat.  But that takes work.  So health care experts take the easy way out and use BMI.  In fact, the per cent body fat can be estimated using 2 additional measurements -- hips and neck -- and the conversion tables that the military uses for determining the per cent body fat of members of the armed forces.

On the other hand there is at least an 80% probability that your BMI matches your per cent body fat.  Just don't do a lot of heavy lifting and develop muscles that will help you live better longer.

fredgator116 I agree with you there. I personally think that the calculation of BMI is only serving to stoke the nation's fear of obesity. Athletes have a higher BMI due to higher muscle content, but they are still considered "overweight or obese" which is ridiculous. BMI also doesn't take body type into account, which is a huge part of how people carry weight. I have a large frame and at 5'5" I'm allegedly supposed to be 145 lbs to get into the healthy weight category, which I know isn't going to happen unless I starve myself. How is it fair that I, with my large frame, is expected to weigh the same as someone with a more slight frame at the same height? Answer: it isn't.

This article gives good advice, "ideal weight is the weight where you feel your best and are free from disease." I say forget the BMI, and be healthy at a weight that is comfortable for you. 


I am on the high end, but I also do some powerlifting. I deadlift around 200 lbs. I am not big, or that muscular looking though, but if I were to do less weights, I'm sure I'd be closer to the 135 and BMI of 22.5 or so that is recommended. I am at 24.something, and people find it hard to believe that were I to gain just a few lbs, I would be overweight. My waist measurement is in the 20s and my body fat% is decent, so I like those measurements better. 

My body fat percetage ranges from 14 - 16% (underweight) depending on whether I am in my training season but my BMI is 22-23% what does that tell you. 

I have water retaintion tablets for Diabetes Insipidus, this makes me look larger than I am, I currently weigh 8 st but have a huge stomach, BMI doesn't take enough into account.

runjenrun-  Can I have a blood transfusion from you!!! LOL!

I am in a quandry about my ideal weight-  I am only 5'2" and between small and medium boned- I have been all different weights- my high school weight was 135-140 so even as a young person did not enjoy a normal weight for my height AND  I do not feel bad at my current weight of 145 but do not fit in my clothes.  Nearing menopause- I am almost 54-  I find I am really hungry and no energy. Life is a journey and I need to get on the path that is the most "correct" for me. Individuals may be alike in some ways but we are all unique and need to do what turns out to be the best for us.

Good luck to all!

Ideal weight and BMI is all relative.  I'm 5'5" and 200 lbs.  I'm not as active as I would like, but I eat right and fit enough to keep up with my 1-yr old.  I'm also 32 and my metabolism is not what it used to be neither is my body.  According to charts and other indexes, my ideal weight should be somewhere around 140lbs.  At my most fit I was 168 and I looked like I was dying.  I also had to run 3-4 miles a day 6 days a week to maintain that.  I don't have that kind of time or energy now.  I think I looked my best between 170 and 180.  In the end it really is where you feel most comfortable.  I think your body will tell you.  I know from experience that my body is smarter than I am and it tells me what I need.   Thank you for this article. 

I think way to much is put into BMI.  Body fat is the most important thing.  I am short at 5'6" and 40 years old, but work out 4+ days a week.  I am also an endurance sport Mountain Biker.  I am currently 160, which has me as overweight using BMI.  i would need to get down to 150 to be healthy.  I have very low body fat.  At my physical this year, my doctor, suggested that I lose some weight, because based on my BMI I am over weight.  He suggested that I get down to 145.  What an idiot, I called him out on it.  Then after looking at me said.  You are right, don't change a thing. 

The other issue BMI doesn't take into account is those of us that have lost a great deal of weight and so have lots of excess skin, which is neither mucsle or fat. 

I have always been puzzled by my personal BMI. I am 44 years old and I am 5’10” and I weight 179lbs. Per my BMI, I am still slightly overweight at 25.7. I have very little body fat. I wear a medium shirt and a 31 pants. I have friends tell me that I look unhealthy, but I am still mildly overweight?

Good to now I'm a heffer, lol


I hate all this stuff!  My BMI puts me in the healthy range, but at 5'8" and 151, I feel too heavy and think my running suffers because of it.  I feel best closer to 135, which is where the old weight charts would put me, given I have a small frame.  Also, different people, even being same height and weight, can carry the weight very differently.  I guess it all boils down to where you feel best personally-a weight where you have a decent amount of lean mass, but have energy and a healthy glow.  For some people that may be at a BMI of 19, others at 27.

Is that body weight number right for someone who's 5'5"?  115 seems like a BMI of 19, not 29.

I would like to be 110 pounds, I'm 5 3" in height...

is that possible and is it healthy?

My BMI says I'm healthy, I'm at 22 bmi, but I know my body is not healthy yet because i have a very high bodyfat percentage and my waist measurement is high: 33inches, which is also very out of proportion to the rest of my body. I was this same weight before, and then I was healthy, due to higher muscle mass and lower waist measurement. I look slightly overweight because of this.


My BMI says I am at a healthy weight, however my body fat percentage is higer than I would like it to be. I would like to be closer to the lower end of what is determined "healthy weight", this is where I feel my best. I am currently 5'5 and 132 pounds. I would like to get back down to 125 consistently while maintaing a healthy, managable diet.

I'm also very, very small.  Being short makes it difficult to maintain your weight.  I was fine until going through menopause.  Since that time, I have belly weight, but I'm thin everywhere else.  It's difficult buying pants when your waist is out of proportion to the rest of your body.  You have to exercise a LOT more than you did with more weight training.



kt1784 - I could have written your post!  I'm also currently 5'5"/132 and would prefer to be 125.  Goal is to be under 130 at 30!  (29 right now...) 

prishwang - I certainly used to be 110 lbs.  I'm 5'5", not 5'3", but close enough.  It's very doable, but I wasn't eating much, was exercising A LOT, and looked pretty unhealthy.  2" might make enough of a difference, though?


Seems like everyone around my height would like to be at 125 lbs. I'm 5'7" and currently weight in at 132 and I would LVOE to be at 125. I'm "healthy" right now though, but I'd like to be at 125

its amazing, i too am 5'5 and 132 and would like to be 125. it seems to be the magic number. i feel stcuk where i am though, i am 27, 2 kids and not getting anwhere. but i hope this sight will get me to my goal

Wow I never knew 5'5" and 5'6" was considered short!  I am only now quite 5'1" with little bones.  I guess that makes me a midget???

Yes, I guess we are midgets. If you are under 5', you really feel heavy when you cros the 110 lb. mark.

I'm 5'11 and currently weigh 170lbs, putting me around 24.  That is down my high of 307 some 4 years ago.

My question is since I lost the weight, I have some sagging skin in the waist area.  How does this effect the BMI calculations if at all?


Original Post by: fredgator116

I wish that they would come up with an accurate way to calculate "HEALTHY" BMI.  If you work out and lift weights your BMI is always higher. 

There are actually BMI calculators set up for people who are athletes.  These are not for people who play a lot of sports, but rather for people who do heavy lifting or regular intense training.

I don't want to promote one site over another so just do a search for "Athlete BMI" and you will find what you need.

If you really want to know how you are doing, buy a body fat monitor.

Honestly, I've never put much faith in the BMI. I don't really trust it, especially not for myself. I'm a 5 foot 11 inch woman with a large skeletal structure. Most bracelets and watches made for women don't fit me, and it's not because I'm chubby, either, it's just that I have large, heavy bones. You really have to take the BMI with a grain of salt, especially when you're a large or small framed person. This chart is for people of 'average' bone structure. If you go by this chart and you get down to 'healthy weight' and you can see your ribcage, it might be a sign to you that the BMI is not a good indicator for you.

The darn thing tells me that my 'normal' range is between 132 and 160 pounds. If I weighed that much, I'd look emaciated. BEWARE!!!

Original Post by: cynsop

Yes, I guess we are midgets. If you are under 5', you really feel heavy when you cros the 110 lb. mark.

It doesn't make you a midget or a little person technically unless you are under 5 feet tall.

Original Post by: tsjej

I have always been puzzled by my personal BMI. I am 44 years old and I am 5’10” and I weight 179lbs. Per my BMI, I am still slightly overweight at 25.7. I have very little body fat. I wear a medium shirt and a 31 pants. I have friends tell me that I look unhealthy, but I am still mildly overweight?

Beware of the BMI - you should be the judge of yourself - the BMI is just an 'average' person's guide. If you feel healthy and look healthy (thin but not many bones visible, pleasing to the eye) then you're probably fine. The BMI is not an end-all, be-all of determining your healthy weight. REMEMBER: Just like everyone's personality is different, so everyone's body is different!!

The BMI dates back to the early 1800's or before when people were shorter in stature and smaller boned.  Like the teensy women who wore dresses with waists the size of my thigh alone.  So the BMI is no longer accurate for modern people - teen girls are known to have longer thigh bones and boys grow faster too.  Better food, hormone fed food, greater quantities of food and less work mean we are all bigger and heavier.  And it's not just us.  The Chinese, traditionally small people, are growing (I think) at about 4" per generation.  Hence having some pretty tall basketball playing Asian men comparable to Europeans.  Ban the BMI I say - I'm 85kg (190lbs) and could do with losing 'SOME' weight.  BUT when I do drop a few pounds I always end up sick and feel listless, etc.  Everyone always says I look 'so much better' slimmer but this is the weight at which I can throw 30 and 40kg sacks of horse feed, shift 100's of bales of hay (with help) in a few hours, ride my horse, work shift work, be a mum, friend, sister, daughter and wife.  So, does the BMI need to be looked at.  My ideal BMI weight is about 60kgs.  Yes, I look HOT at 60kg, mind you, who wouldn't?  But at 85kg and a busy life, should I be beating myself up over this apparent 25kg I need to shed according to the BMI - or should I aim for 15kg which would take me to a healthy and still gorgeous (I know, I hooked my hubby at that weight) 70kg????? 

My scales tell me my 'fat percentage' and whether or not that is healthy for my age and height. I go by that instead of BMI

Years ago when I was growing up there was no BMI and hardly any obesity. The rule of thumb for women was 5 foot 100 lbs and for every inch add another 5 lbs and that is what you should weigh.  So at 5'2"  I should weigh 110-  I think I was that weight maybe 6 months of my adult life!!

That's interesting.  I never saw that before, but if you think about it it makes as much sense as anything else.

My ideal weight is 41 kg. And I'm about 160 cm. That's how I was for a long time, until I started using antibabypills. x__x;;

BMI is kind of a bummer, just like those hight weight charts.  Mine is like 31.4 I think.  I was down to around a BMI of 24 and a weight around 145 for over a year, eating well and exercising but was having chronic ammenhorrea and stomach issues despite medication from enocrinologists and gastroenterologists.  I then sort of absent mindedly put on about 20 pounds and my ammenhorrea went away and my stomach started to feel better.  My enocrinologist has basically has told me not to lose all the weight again.  Around a BMI of 29 must be what my body needs to feel ok.

I agree newharmony, I am a large framed lady, post menopausal, so I have that tell tale tummy bump, what do they call them now, a wee little muffin top.  I workout very hard, just post injury now from that very thing.  But I don't trust the BMI myself, I just know I need to get the waistline measurement down again and I'll be happy.  My BMI done by a personal trainer was 29 one week and then the next week she said it was 32, go figure.  She then proceeded to tell me that after I had gained 4 pounds being off the gym that 2 were fluid and two were muscle, by squeezing this little hand grip.  Even the scales can be tricky, at 170 I can get into a medium in pants.  I try to go by how I feel, what my heart rate is working out and what I can now fit into for clothing.  That's my take on it for better or worse.

I guess everybody is agreed that BMI is not the greatest guide to a healthy weight.

Another issue that hasn't surfaced in these comments is whether a higher weight might be better -- particularly as we age.  A recent "scientific" study ( I only read the summary so that is what I am passing on) concluded that older people with a little excess body fat tend to live longer (have a lower mortality).  Right now (as I pass thru my late 60's) I am holding between 170 and 175.  That is either down from 210 or up from 155 depend on where you choose your starting point.

I would like to get down to 165 but my body seems to like this weight.  In the light of the above mentioned scientific study, I may already be at a very healthy weight.  How would I know?

I've always thought it was a hoot that the BMI is nothing but a silly math trick to get to the same information that the 1950s-era Metropolitan Life height and weight charts had.  Anytime I hear anyone refer to the BMI with any sense of seriousness, I immediately dismiss them as intellectually lazy at best.

Original Post by: jamesnick

I've always thought it was a hoot that the BMI is nothing but a silly math trick to get to the same information that the 1950s-era Metropolitan Life height and weight charts had.  Anytime I hear anyone refer to the BMI with any sense of seriousness, I immediately dismiss them as intellectually lazy at best.

LOL jamesnick!

Original Post by: jochallacombe

My scales tell me my 'fat percentage' and whether or not that is healthy for my age and height. I go by that instead of BMI

Where did you get this scale? It sounds like a really useful tool!

The BMI is almost depressing in it's standards. I take it's advice, to a certain extent. I'm currently aiming for 135 lbs, but I know in reality I'll probably shoot for a reasonable 140-145. At 5'9", I feel like much lower than that is almost TOO thin...and that's what the BMI scale suggests! I try to take my own judgement and add that to the reccomendations.

I've been to my doctors recently, told that I'm 70 lbs overweight.  I'm 5'4, 200 lbs.. and everyone says to me..."you not don't look obese".  Well that's fine what both what the doctor says (he too went by the BMI) and what others say... but I know what I look and feel like at 135 (my bones show) and at 200... (I feel lousy)... so the BMI can be a guideline... but I use my own judgment.  No I won't feel or look good at 135... but neither will I feel or look good staying at 200.  I know what my problem is...its what I eat.. we haven't mentioned that here... one of the reasons I love this site is it lets me see the nutrition I'm getting and can work at losing the weight.  When I feel and look better... then I will know what my ideal weight is.  And yes... I agree... we should be measuring the fat.   


Couldn't agree with you more.  Look at the natives in the North, they eat seal blubber and raw meat and they are healthy as far as cardio/cholesteral etc are concerned.  My diet isn't perfect, but I work at it, and I think that's the best anyone can sustain so that's what I do.  I know what my ideal weight is, sure I'd like to get lower, but realistically I know now that I can't sustain it for whatever reason.  So I work hard to eat healthy, workout frequently and try to maintain a good attitude, these are the millstones of good health.  Not some preconeived number of one's body fat, based on some number conceived by a life insurance actuary.  Different people are different, different amount of fat/muscle ration, long muscles and short muscles, and on and on, when you are at your "good weight" you know it.  Doesn't matter what the scale says.

But I do agree with not just cutting the fat but watching the types of fats we use and why use good versus great, and interesting subject.



I'm actually on the healthy BMI range- a 20.7

But I still would like to diet to reduce my body fat and gain more muscles looking "toned".

I happen to be one of the few people who my BMI and my weight seem to agree with each other.  I am 5'7 and 43 yrs old... my wii fit says an ideal weight for me would be around 140...but I have been there done that and didnt like it.  lol.  I looked ok...I just felt slow and sluggish! Right now I weigh 127.4 and would like to get down to 125...  and I would still be considered a healthy weight at that its a big window they alow you to have!  I too would like to be more toned and have decided that I might not ever get there.... being 43 and having been 200 lbs at 3 different times of my life ( has caused loser skin in areas.  I can feel the rock hard abs under it all...u just cant see them.  :(    I really do think its all about how do you feel?  Do you have energy?  Do your clothes fit the way you want?  Are you happy and healthy?  If so?  Then your good!  :)

Comment Removed

"Why are the using BMI? What happened to the weight charts? BMI doesn't even differenciate between men and women."


all the ones I have seen do take into consideration male or female and sometimes your age even.  :)

Post Your Comment

Join Calorie Count - It's Easy and Free!