Gyms and Fitness Clubs

Finding an Ideal Weight for Exercise or Sports

We all want to be thin, slim, trim, fit, and so on. While many of us go to the gym regularly to lose weight and be as slim as possible, an article entitled "Slimmer Doesn't Always Mean Fitter" from the New York Times reminds us that being too slim or thin might be a problem. Why is this? Because our bodies know our peak better than we do.

A lot of us are of the belief that we have to be as slim as possible to be as fit as possible, but studies show this just isn't true. As we all have a perfect body weight and BMI based on our height and other factors, we also have a perfect weight for best efficiency, depending on the workout or sport we're undertaking.

For example, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a muscle metabolism researcher and physiologist at McMaster University in Ontario, did an experiment when he was in graduate school. He tested his VO2 maxes, a measure of the body's ability to get oxygen to muscles during exercise, at various weights. He found he got his best VO2 Maxes - 86 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight -- when he weighed 156 pounds. Naturally, Dr. Tarnopolsky thought if he lost more weight, he'd be more efficient. However, when he went down to 152 pounds, his VO2 max went down to 82.

Why is this? According to the article, there's a point where you reach your peak of efficiency, and when you try to go past that, your body begins to burn muscle for fuel. This can lead to decreased athletic performance, increased fatigue and much more. Sadly, the only way to know this ideal weight is by trial and error. For example, it took Dathan Ritzenhein -- an Olympic runner of excellent ability -- twelve years of trial and error to find his ideal weight.

Does that mean it will take you twelve years to find your ideal weight? Likely not, as we're not professional athletes. What one has to do is trust their body and not freak out mentally about how much you need to lose weight, your body will likely tell you at which weight it feels you're at your best.