Whether your weight loss goal is to shed belly fat or lower your risk of heart disease, a few at-home calculations can help keep you healthy and on track.
The Tools You Need
Unless you drop serious cash on futuristic weight loss equipment, don’t expect your bathroom scale to give you anything besides a daunting or delightful number. Interpretation is up to you. Luckily, body weight and calorie calculators can add context to those digits, taking into account factors like your age, gender, height, body fat positioning, and activity level to help you determine if your weight is a risk to your overall health.
While crunching numbers at your desk doesn’t replace a visit to the doctor, it can help you determine if a slim-down strategy is in order, and help you chart your progress along the way. (Search: Why do I need to track my weight and body fat percentage?) “Although they aren’t always perfect, weight loss calculators can be fun tools to engage people who are interested in changing their weight,” says Alice Burron, exercise physiologist and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. “They can be useful for tracking over time, and they are slightly more interactive than the bathroom scale.”Still, with similar-sounding names—BMI, BMR, BAI—it’s tough to decide which at-home test you can trust to tell you if you’re fit—or not as fit as you had hoped. Here, we deliver the lowdown on the most popular weight calculators to determine what’s in, what’s out, and what can actually help you lose weight.