We all have a picture in our mind of how our ideal body should look like. We have been brought up to think that the weight scales or the BMI scale could help in pointing us towards this body. The weight scale or the BMI scale can only measure how skinny or how overweight you are. It cannot measure body definition. Body definition really depends on how much of body fat one is carrying.
Body fat measurements with calipers while being the most accurate in determining body definition, can sometimes be cumbersome for the beginner. Is there an easier measurement that could provide an estimate of a well defined body? Apparently there is. An easier and more practical means of measuring a well defined body would be to measure the Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR).
Measuring Body Definition via the Waist to Hip Ratio
The Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR) can be considered a quick and dirty way to assess an ideal body definition.
The concept and significance of WHR as an indicator of attractiveness was first theorized by Dr. Devendra Singh at the University of Texas at Austin in 1993 via the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Some researchers have found that the waist-hip ratio (WHR) is a significant measure of female attractiveness. Women with a 0.7 WHR are usually rated as more attractive by men from European cultures. Such diverse beauty icons as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Jessica Alba, Salma Hayek and even the Venus de Milo all have or had ratios close to 0.7, even though they all have different weights and heights.
An approximate WHR of 0.9 for men is a good indicator of a well defined body.
Why Weight or BMI is Not Suitable for Determining Body Definition
The body is made up of fat, muscles, organs, bones and tissue. In an adult, the only thing that would or can change is the amount of muscles or fat one is carrying. Sometimes water content and bowel movement can also affect body weight. The weight of your internal organs or your bones would be approximately constant.
The weight scales or BMI are not able to determine how your weight is distributed. The weight scale or a BMI reading is not able to tell what portion of weight loss is fat, muscle or water. For better body definition, one should focus on losing fat and not muscle or water. Body definition is only possible by maintaining what ever muscles you may have.
Why The Waist to Hip Ratio is an Effective Measurement
The WHR is a self correcting measurement. This essentially means that as the WHR moves to 0.7 for women and 0.9 for men, the body becomes more and more defined. This ratio can only be achieved if one loses fat without losing muscles or water.
A lot of people lose weight by dieting or reducing food consumption without exercise. These people end up losing considerable amount of muscle with small amounts of fat. Even though, they may look thin, the body lacks definition. Ordinary weight loss via brute dieting will not help a man or woman achieve the target WHR. Research has found that women who usually diet and go on starvation type diets, cannot get rid of their protruding stomachs. The stomach is the last bastion of fat storage for the body which thinks that there is a shortage of food.
It was found that even if a woman has dieted herself skinny, her WHR would probably be in the region of 1. This is because her dieting has resulted in the loss of valuable muscle on the buttocks which results in a flatter and less shapely bums. At the same time the protruding stomach remains.
Monitor Weight and WHR
Anyone interested in achieving a well defined body should monitor their WHR along with their weight. As long as weight is being reduced and the WHR moves towards the ideal ratio, one can safely assume that most of the weight loss comes from fat loss. If the WHR is moving away from the ideal number, one should stop and re-evaluate why this is happening.
The WHR is not meant to replace the caliper but instead to facilitate to get a quick and dirty measurement of a well defined body.