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What is my ideal weight?

Dr. Pierre Dukan
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

By definition, each person’s True Weight is personal. For starters, it must take a person’s age and gender into account. For example, we know that with each decade, a woman’s stable weight needs to be increased by 1.8 pounds and a man’s by 2.6 pounds. Furthermore, a person’s needs, and especially the likelihood of achieving a certain weight, will differ between age 20 and age 50. When working out this True Weight, family history must also be considered. Here again, there is no point asking a woman whose family has a history of obesity to aim for the same stable weight as a woman whose family is by nature slim. In addition, it is absolutely essential to include the history of a person’s weight problems, the crucial moment when weight started to get out of control: was it childhood, adolescence, or at a time of major stress, medical treatment, or depression— or for a woman, at her first contraceptive pill, with pregnancy, or in perimenopause? Each person is different from the next, and these differences need to be taken into consideration. It is also equally necessary to take into account what I call the “weight range”—the difference between the least someone has ever weighed after the age of twenty and the most the person has weighed apart from during pregnancy. This range tells us what is recorded in that person’s biological memory and remains there forever. Also, figuring into calculating a person’s True Weight is how many unsuccessful diets have been followed, and which ones, as there are some diets from which the body never quite recovers— diets that go against nature and trigger “body anxieties.” The best known of these diets are based on powdered or liquid meal substitutes, which are the very opposite of what is natural for humans to eat.

You can see that there are many different parameters used to calculate a person’s True Weight and that it is too complex to be calculated just by using pen and paper. I recommend that you go to the Dukan Diet website (www.dukandiet.com), where you will find a free questionnaire with eleven questions that will let you find your True Weight. Answer them, and you will have your True Weight straightaway. 

For women, the ideal weight is 105 pounds for 5 feet of height, and 5 pounds for every inch after. For men, it's 106 pounds at 5 feet and 6 pounds for every inch taller. Those are for medium-framed people. Some adjustments are made if you're larger-framed or smaller-framed.

Another way to gauge what your ideal body shape should be? If you gained weight as an adult, you were probably closest to your ideal body shape between ages 18 and 20. That's true for most people, though not everyone.

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Here's a quick rule of thumb, 100 lbs for the first 5 feet plus 5 pounds per inch after that for women and 106 lbs for the first 5 feet plus 6 pound per inch for men.
Debra Fulghum Bruce PhD
Healthcare Specialist

Most people have no idea what their ideal weight might be. I tell my patients that a healthy weight is one at which you are comfortable, do not have weight-related diseases (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes), and are not likely to develop these diseases in the future.

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Judith Beck, PhD
Psychiatrist (Therapist)

I have a very practical definition of ideal weight. It’s a range, not a fixed point. It’s the weight you get to when you’re eating a very healthy diet you can keep up with for your whole life—plus about 5-10 pounds (depending on how much weight you lost in the first place). So your ideal weight is not even the lowest weight you reach through dieting because most people gain back at least a little weight.

Your ideal weight is not the weight of your favorite celebrity or your thinnest friend or relative, and it is unlikely to be your lowest weight as an adult. It may not even be in the “healthy BMI” range. Some people do reach a “healthy BMI” but they do it by ingesting too few calories or by following an eating plan that isn’t healthy or realistic for them to sustain.

You won’t even know what your ideal weight [range] is until you get there. Let’s say you start at the 2200 calorie level. At some point, your weight loss will stop. Then you’ll need to ask yourself, “Can I realistically cut out 100-200 more calories and keep up this reduced level for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, then you’re at the bottom of your ideal weight range. If the answer is yes, you can reduce your calories and lose more weight. Ultimately, you’ll find that it just isn’t realistic to cut your calories any further. The weight you are maintaining at that point is the bottom of your ideal weight range.

Ideal weight, by the standard medical definition, is your body mass index (BMI). A BMI of 20 to 25 is considered an ideal body weight.

With that said, everybody is different. For example, shorter people may have more muscle mass. We use BMI as a marker but now we have a better way of looking at your ideal body weight other than using your BMI alone.

In my bariatric program, we utilize very specialized scales that actually measure a patient’s muscle mass. Sometimes my patients gain weight so their BMI goes up, but they gained muscles mass and lost fatty tissue. In the medical definition, I think BMI is what we use to determine someone’s real weight, but in reality there are a lot more factors to it than that. 

We use BMI as a guideline. If you’re a healthy person with a fair amount of muscle mass and your BMI is above 25, that’s okay. The best thing to do is to eat healthy and exercise. And have conversations with your physicians and nutritionists.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.