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According to the National Institutes of Health[i]:

  • Eating plans that contain 1,000–1,200 calories each day will help most women lose weight safely.
  • Eating plans that contain 1,200–1,600 calories each day are suitable for men and also may be appropriate for women who weigh 165 pounds or more or who exercise regularly.

If you eat 1,600 calories a day but do not lose weight, then you may want to cut back to 1,200 calories. Very low calorie diets of fewer than 800 calories per day should not be used unless your doctor is monitoring you.

[i] “Healthy Eating Plan.” National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health, n.d. <>.

BMI and waistline

I was excited to see a new study, conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, is adding to the growing evidence that waist circumference – not just body mass index (BMI) – is a key predictor for heart disease, cancer, respiratory problems and premature death.

What that basically means is a person may look relatively slim and could have a normal BMI. But if they are carrying extra weight in their abdomen, they are also at an increased risk for premature death, heart disease, stroke and other conditions.

In the new study, researchers looked at data from 11 different studies that included more than 600,000 people around the world. They found that men who had waists that were 109 cm (43 inches) or larger had twice the mortality risk than men with waists smaller than 89 cm (35 inches).

For men with larger waists, this translated to a life expectancy that was three years shorter than their peers after age 40.

Women with a waist circumference of 94 cm (37 inches) had an 80 per cent higher mortality risk than those with waists that were 69 cm (27 inches) or less. For women with larger waists, that translates to a life expectancy five years shorter after age 40.

In the 5 Skinny Habits book (pre-order at, I mention that you should keep in mind that BMI is only one factor related to disease risk. To assess someone’s likelihood of developing overweight- or obesity-related diseases, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guidelines recommend looking at another predictor:

The individual’s waist circumference (because abdominal fat predicts risk of obesity-related diseases)

Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) assesses body fat distribution to evaluate the risk of cardiovascular disease. Measurements are taken at the following locations:

Waist: Narrowest point of the torso below the rib cage and above the iliac crest (usually just above the belly button)

Hips: Largest circumference around hips or buttocks region, above the gluteal fold at the widest part of your buttocks)

Calculate WHR by dividing the waist measurement by the hip measurement.





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