BMI -- body mass index -- is a common measurement used to determine whether you are at an appropriate weight. It is calculated using your height and weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is healthy. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese. Reducing BMI requires losing weight through a healthy diet and exercise. While quick weight loss is possible, it's not recommended: It can slow your metabolism and compromise your health. Health experts recommend a weight loss of one to two pounds per week.
Diet to Lower BMI
Reduce your calories. Eating more food than your body need leads to weight gain and a higher BMI. The more calories you cut, the faster you'll lose weight; however, don't go on a strict diet. Too few calories can slow your metabolism and prevent weight loss. Women should have at least 1,200 calories and men 1,500 calories a day.
Cut sugar and processed foods from your diet. These foods have little to no nutritional value and can add weight even if you keep your calories low, according to the National Institute of Health.
Eat fresh, whole foods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a diet of lean proteins, low-fat dairy, fresh vegetables and fruit and whole grains.
Exercise to Lower BMI
Get at least six but no more than eight hours of sleep every night. The National Institute of Health reports that people who got less than six hours or more than eight hours of sleep were more likely to gain weight.
Check with your doctor before starting an exercise and diet program.
BMI measurement is a useful tool to determine appropriate weight, but it has limitations because it doesn't consider body composition. A muscular athlete may have a high BMI reading but have little fat, and someone with less muscle or who is older might have a low BMI but be too fat.
Exercise 60 minutes five days a week. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise is acceptable for health, but 60 minutes is best for weight loss and lowering BMI. Choose activities you enjoy that increase your heart rate such as bicycling, tennis or aerobic dance.
Perform resistance training twice a week. Resistance training builds muscle, which helps you burn more calories and speeds up your metabolism. Perform exercises that target the major muscle groups including the legs, glutes, abs, back and arms.
Increase your activity throughout your day. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking away from your destination to walk farther will burn calories to help you lose weight and lower your BMI. Other ways to fit activity in your day include standing instead of sitting and going for a walk instead of watching television.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About BMI for Adults
- What Health: How to Calculate BMI
- BMI Calculator: Calorie Needs to Lose Weight
- National Institute of Health: Certain Foods Linked to Long-term Weight Gain
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Focus on Foods You Need
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training -- Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
Leslie Truex has been telecommuting and freelancing since 1994. She wrote the "The Work-At-Home Success Bible" and is a career/business and writing instructor at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Truex has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Willamette University and a Master of Social Work from California State University-Sacramento. She has been an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified fitness instructor since 2001.