BMI doesn’t measure Body fat content (which you think would be essential), muscle mass, bone density, overall body composition and finally racial and gender differences.
True Story (how this affects you)
Let me tell you another story, this one is a true story and happened to one of my Clients, who we will call Bob.
Bob has on average 1-2 Personal Training sessions with me in Harrogate on a weekly basis and he may go for a run on the weekend. The Business he works for are very generous and care about Bob’s health. Once a year he gets a full body assessment at Nuffield Health Hospital, where they will test his body fat %, core strength, posture, stress and general fitness. On his last visit Bob found that his body fat % had stayed the same as last year (17%) which is a good healthy range. He also found that his body weight had increased by 2kg. Considering his body fat had not fluctuated we can safely say that Bob had increased his lean muscle tissue. Increased muscle tissue means increased metabolic rate! This means, more energy spent at rest and therefore we can chip away the infamous body fat % a lot faster. Happy days!
Bob has Health insurance through his company too! This company rewards good health with cash pay outs, which is awesome, right?
However when Bob received his health checklist, he scrolled through the copious green ticks, non-smoker, blood sugar levels etc and finally came across the final box BMI, with a red cross…
Bob was now 2kg overweight on the BMI scale. This means no cash pay-out… Bob is not rewarded for his well-earned muscle mass but penalized.
So why hasn't this system changed?
"It always seems impossible until it’s done." Nelson Mandela[tweet this].
The HARD truth...
This isn’t new, Health experts will commonly comment “BMI is flawed”. It goes through the cycle of news and then it all goes quiet again. It is a broken system that doctors still use to measure your health. It promotes healthy individuals to lose muscle mass for fear they may be labelled as overweight. Minimal muscle mass in the long term means a slow metabolic rate and eventually fat stores will start to rise. It is extremely hard to get your metabolism burning from a stand still!
Muscle mass weighs more than fat (it is denser, per cubic inch of muscle weighs more than a cubic inch of fat). Therefore, BMI will inevitably class muscular, athletic people as fatter than they really are.
Even using BMI for less active people can be a flawed system. As there is no compensation for difference in height it can skew the results for taller people making them believe they are fatter than they really are, and shorter people appearing thinner on paper than in reality.
Circumference Measurements are a good simple way to measure body fat but it can depend mostly on the individual and their body shape. Using a combination of measuring techniques are the most effective and then taking a calculated reading from all measurements. This can be from skin fold measurements, circumference and body stat machines (although these can be consistent in being inconsistent). This is why an initial consultation with a personal trainer is so important. The trainer can gain a good understanding of a client’s current health and also their needs for training from these measurements.
Historically, BMI was created in the 1830s by Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet (1796-1874), a Belgian mathematician, sociologist, statistician and astronomer. 200 years on with all the technology available to us, why haven’t we come up with something more efficient to be standardised across the medical society?
Apart from the obvious: Diabetes/hypertension/heart disease and accelerated aging…but here's what you need to know:
Sugar however doesn’t directly cause these health problems, but eating too much in our diet every day is a good way of making us fat and diminishing our health. The average person can eat up to 28 tea spoons a day (450 calories worth) and the worst thing is that we don’t even realise we are doing it! Sugars are hidden in our everyday consumable products e.g. cereal, readymade sauces, readymade meals, fizzy and soft drinks… basically anything processed. These goods can also be advertised as “healthy options”, it’s not surprising then that obesity is on the rise.
Sugar is Sugar… whether its fructose, glucose. The only thing that changes is how our body breaks and utilises this form of sugar. Here are the basics that we need to know:
Glucose is sugar that is processed into glycogen and is eventually stored in our cells for energy. Any excess is turned into fat. Glucose on its own isn’t sweet, but when paired with fructose it becomes what we are accustomed to as sugar. Glucose should be used after an intense workout to replenish energy stores quickly. But from a body composition point of view it should be avoided.
Fructose is sugar found from fruits and some vegetables. It makes up a high proportion of sweeteners too. Fructose is metabolized by the liver and doesn’t raise insulin! But studies have found added fructose can put you at greater risk of diabetes, fat gain and raise the dreaded visceral fat. Be wary of sweeteners with a high percentage of Fructose to glucose ratio, as it may only have a low glycaemic index (how fast sugar is released into the blood stream) but it can slow your metabolic rate and any excess will be turned into fat!
Addiction isn't about substance - you aren't addicted to the substance, you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings. -Susan Cheever-[tweet this].
“The Catch 22 about Sugar”
Sugar is addictive! So eating sugar in moderation by concept will be hard… you are always going to be craving sugar! Here’s the science: Sugar has the effect of altering hormone responses and brain function so we are driven to eat more of it. Funnily enough Sugar can manipulate the brain very similar to heroin.
Many people eat some if not a strong foundation of processed foods, nearly all of which contain some added sugar, leading to intensified cravings. This is putting you at risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity and disease.
The Moral of the Story?
Stay away from processed foods and you might have a chance of avoiding sugar… Look at the labels of shop bought goods and look for those added sugars. Usually if it says its fat free they’ve added sugar to compensate. Just because it’s got more protein doesn’t mean it’s healthy, it may have more protein but still have those sugars. Keep sugary fruits to a minimum. Bananas for example are high in sugars and are great for an energy boost before or after an intense session! Having it for lunch at the office is only going to spike your sugar levels and then any excess will be stored as fat.
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Thanks for reading and happy Training
Tri Force Training
New Additions at our Personal Training Facility!
Come try the NEW additions at our personal training facility in Harrogate! The SPARC and ARC Trainers!
These top of the line machines are excellent for burning fat, building muscle, skyrocketing power output and improving endurance. Covering all of the bases the SPARC Trainer is an excellent addition to your personal training sessions! Click below to get your free workup skill and body stat to try the SPARC yourself!
Here is just a few of the many benefits:
Why not book in for a try and a Free Body stat below:
The 1 Million Kilo Challenge!
On Saturday the 12th of March in Harrogate, A team of 12 (including myself), undertook the 1 Million Kilo challenge in aid of Yorkshire Cancer Research!
We smashed our Giant of a challenge in record time! starting at 7 am and finishing at 3.30 pm! That's 8 hours of continuous heavy lifting!
Overall we each completed 30 sets on Deadlifts, 30 sets on Bench-press and 30 Sets on Squats with a grand total of 900 repetitions! I personally manged to contribute 1000 times my body weight and then some!
With all your Help and support we managed to raise an epic £10,410.08 and we couldn’t have done it without you!
So I’d like to say a big thank you from the team for all the Donations contributed and also a big thank you to all those who took the time out of the day to see their Personal Trainer (although I’m sure you enjoyed me suffering for a change!) .You made the difference to getting those extra reps!
Tri Force Training
Sean Baldwin is the founder of Tri Force Training, a Personal Training service in Harrogate.