Ideal weight - Is this set in stone or more of a guideline?

Ideal weight

Ideal weight - what is this?

Ideal weight is typically defined as the weight range which is optimal for an individual. This is calculated as the weight which has the highest life expectancy for a given gender and height. In short it tells us our healthiest weight.

How to calculate your ideal weight

Kalorienrechner Kalorientracking

You don’t need any specific details about your body in order to calculate your ideal weight. On the one hand this makes the whole process nice and simple, on the other hand it is also the major weakness of the BMI calculator and other calorie guidelines since two people with the same BMI can be completely different.

BMI = Body weight (in Kg) / Height (in m)²

BMI and Ideal weight

Traditional BMI calculators only take into account your height, weight and sex. The results of BMI or “ideal weight” should therefore be seen as a guideline, and not as the holy grail.

Below 18,5 Underweight
18,5-24,9 Normal weight / “Ideal weight”
25-29,9 Overweight
30-35 Obese Level 1
35-40 Obese Level 2
Over 40 Obese Level 3

In addition to gender and height, the Upfit BMI calculator also takes into account your age, daily activity level, how much sport you do, your estimated body fat percentage and even your sleep duration. The more information you give it, the more reliable the result will be.

Here you can calculate your BMI for free.

What does ideal weight actually mean?

Vegetarian diet

Things such as bone density, cell structure, and composition differ from person to person so it is impossible to generalise.

Medically speaking there is no one factor which determines the ideal weight.

Finally it is impossible to determine one value for your ideal weight, at the very best you can expect to determine a range or tendency. The principle behind BMI is: If you are either very high or very low on the BMI scale, there is a considerable risk to your life expectancy. This makes sense in general, but doesn’t take into account, for example, that sportspeople may naturally have a higher or lower weight. You can learn more about BMI in relation to sport in the rest of this article. Keep reading!

What is the ideal body fat percentage?

BMI only tells us about total body weight, but it also matters how the weight is distributed, namely between muscle and fat. Below is a table containing the “ideal” body fat percentages:

Below 30 years 11-21 % 8-15 %
30-50 years 19-21 % 13-15 %
Over 50 years 21-25 % 15-18 %

Important! Women naturally have a higher body fat percentange than men. Women are predisposed to store fat, in order to feed their foetus and breastfeed if they become pregnant.

Ideal weight in sport

Repetitions and Exercises

The BMI calculation takes neither muscle mass or body fat percentage into account, just weight. It is therefore often the case that people who have a lot of muscle mass and are very fit and healthy are considered overweight according to the BMI method.

Muscles are heavier than fat

Examples of Over and Underweight BMIs

Here are two examples, where the BMIs of professional athletes can go to each extreme, namely extremely overweight and extremely underweight.

Jan Frodeno Matthias Steiner
Profession Triathlete, 7 time Ironman champion, gold medal winner Former weightlifter, super heavyweight, Olympic champion 2008, world champion 2010
Age, height and weight (as at July 2019) 37, 194cm, 75Kg 183cm, Weight in 2010: 150Kg, Weight in 2019: ca.105Kg
BMI and Ideal weight ca. 20 = Underweight; Normal weight: 75 – 96 Kg 44.8 = Highly overweight; Normal weight: 64 – 82 Kg

You can see that a professional athlete with specific training can optimize his weight for his sport, which is then considered by the BMI as underweight, overweight or obesity. Not only body weight is decisive for a health risk, but also the percentage of fat mass and above all fat-free mass, i.e. muscles.

The risks associated with a very high or very low BMI

BMI is too high as a result of sport:

  • The cardiovascular system is put at risk from a high body mass.
  • A rapid weight gain is generally bad for health.
  • Doing sports when you are very heavy can be damaging to your joints and cartilage
  • Increased risk of injury

Very low BMI as a result of sport:

  • Endurance sports put stress on your cardiovascular system: the heart muscle and ventricles are heavily hypertrophied (the cells grow rapidly).
  • After an endurance career you must reduce your training incrementally, in other words reduce the distances gradually, to avoid the risk of life threatening cardiovascular failure. The reason is that when the heart muscle is no longer under strain it contracts, whilst the ventricles remain large. The weakened muscle has problems pumping the higher volume of blood around the body.

This is how you reach your ideal weight.

Happy couple

The link between being overweight, having a high BMI and the potential of illnesses has been proven. Nevertheless it is hard to give an exact definition of ‘ideal’, ‘over’ and ‘underweight’ without taking other factors into account.

Factors which make it difficult to maintain ideal weight are for example:

Fitness and a healthy balanced diet are the best way, to lead a long, healthy life.

Ideally one should stick within one’s ideal weight range, the science suggests that this will give you the best chance of leading a long and healthy life. In the Upfit shop you can find various guides and Ebooks, which will help you to further your knowledge of nutrition and sport and to eat well.
Nothing can be achieved without a positive mindset and a smile on your face when you wake up in the morning. A good body image definitely helps with this.


  • Haskins, Scott; Bernhardt, David T.; Koscik, Rebecca L. (2011): Screening for insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk in collegiate football linemen. In: Clinical journal of sport medicine : official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine 21 (3), S. 233–236. DOI: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31821a61f8.
  • Ode, Joshua J.; Pivarnik, James M.; Reeves, Mathew J.; Knous, Jeremy L. (2007): Body mass index as a predictor of percent fat in college athletes and nonathletes. In: Medicine and science in sports and exercise 39 (3), S. 403–409. DOI: 10.1249/01.mss.0000247008.19127.3e.

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