Can we use Body Mass Index (BMI) to assess our health? 

 December 6, 2022

By  Adam Kaan

The Body Mass Index or Bmi is not a marker of health but…

.. let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  

What is BMI and does it really matter?

BMI is a measure that uses your height and weight assess if you fall into a healthy weight range. It's used by the National Health Service (NHS) and medical practioners in the UK.

There are a couple problems with using BMI as a measure of health.

1. It doesn’t account for body composition ie your muscle to fat ratio.

2. You could smoke like a chimney, drink alcohol like a fish and take drugs all at the same times, but still have a low BMI

Thus, BMI is not the ultimate marker of health.

You could have Bilal who exercises regularly, eats healthy but has a bit of a belly and shows as overweight on the bmi scale.

On the other hand you could have his brother Badr, who smokes like a chimney, drinks and parties all night (let's say he's a bad Muslim :-)), but he’s slap bang perfect on the bmi scale.

Which one of them is healthier?

It would be Bilal of course.  Even though his weight may fall outside of the healthy weight range.

Further as mentioned above, BMI does not account for muscle weight. Therefore, yours truly is 25.9 on the BMI scale just overweight. But when I get below 10% body fat I go down to around 25.2 just over.

Now that’s including 20 years of weight training adding muscle to my frame.

So what I’m saying is, when it comes to looking at ‘healthy weight’, BMI is not that far off, you can take a cursory glance at someone, ask a few questions about their lifestyle and know if they need to lose fat.

I forced myself to learn to cook because weight alone is not a measure of health even I got lean eating takeaways.

A Mass Misunderstanding of Body Mass Index (BMI)

Due to this mass misunderstanding of BMI’s limits and implications a lot of Desi Dads become morbidly obese before they even consider themselves overweight. No matter how big you think your bones are or how tall you are.  If you’re over a 100kg and you’re natural, haven’t been lifting consistently for years, you’re obese. See my clients story

They’ll point out BMI is not accurate, not really knowing what they mean by that statement.

Some will say, it doesn’t account for muscle mass. Which is true.

But here are a couple of things to consider:

1. Asians have low muscle mass to begin with. This means most excess weight is likely to be fat.

Especially if the only lifting you’ve been doing is lifting kebabs to your mouth for the last two decades.

2. In the absence of any form of resistance training, muscle atrophies at around 0.5lbs each year after the age of 25 according to some reliable sources.

Bottom line: If your BMI is 30 or above you probably have quite a lot of fat to lose.

BMI Does Not Take Race into Account

South Asians start to develop diabetes and health complications when they go over 25 on the bmi scale, unlike the wider population who start to develop these complications above 30. So the other argument BMI doesn’t take race into account actually works against us.

Here's a screenshot from a client of mine who is a medical doctor.  This is from the latest evidence based information as of July 2023, my response re-stating what I've written above.


A heart attack doesn't care how much you bench, health over hench. South Asian and Middle Eastern men can suffer from health complications with BMI's as low as 23

Click to Tweet

Are you at risk?  Calculate your BMI here:

Years Deluded

For years I reject the the BMI calculations and thougth I just needed to add more muscle to get into shape and get the look I was after.

Gym bro's fuelled this idea too.  I struggled to see the seperation between my chest and torso.  A gym bro in good shape said all I had to do was make my chest bigger. I tried that for many years but I didn't see the seperation I was after.  

Eventually I learnt that the amount of muscle weight we can put as a natural lifter is extremely limited.  Our scale weight will be far lower than we expect when we have abs. I wanted to look like the picture on the right and I thought the path to doing that was adding more muscle, but I actually had to lose fat.  On the right I'm 72kg and on the left I'm 78kg.  Mind blowing right.  You can get in shape, you just have to overcome false beliefs don't get obsessed with scale weight, lift weights and lose fat.

We’ve helped hundreds of desi dads lose weight and many put their diabetes into remission without dieting or exercise using our Minimalist Method online weight loss coaching program. 

If you need help, do your due diligence and then reach out.

On the left yours truly was always tired and triggered and arguing BMI was wrong. On the right I decided to face the facts and fix it.Edit your caption text here

You Don't Have to Be Fat to Be Strong

Mass moves weight, the easiest way to gain strength is just to get fat.  But the fact is you don't have to be fat to be strong.  Being fat and strong isn't something to be proud of because strength is relative to bodyweight.  

Real strength is resisting overeating.  A mindset I teach my clients is to #FlipTheScript.  

I find that people who use these excuses are really trying to neutralise the feelings of failure.  They've tried the 'bro diets' before and failed.  That's all they know and assume you can either 'eat clean' and lose weight or be fat.  There is no middle ground.  That's they choose to stay fat and hide behind these excuses.

You can see  from what our clients are saying, on our program you can eat anything and lose weight.  It's about acquiring the right nutrition knowledge, changing your mindset and behaviours and applying 'Food Taqwa'

6 ft 3 client, starting weight was 107kg.  He thought he only had 7kg to lose see what happened after he lost 28kg

Our mission is to change the health status of the Muslim Community.  If you've found this post useful please share it, so more people can become educated and our community can start to live happier, healthier lives congruent with their faith and family values.


You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Learn The Secrets Busy Professional Asian Dads Are Using To Lose Weight Permanently Without Cutting Out Their Favourite Foods Or Spending Hours In The Gym!