Calculating the Percentage of Weight Loss


Body Fat Percentage Chart

For over ten years, NBC’s The Biggest Loser has been one of the most watched shows on television. The reality series showcases overweight, or obese, contestants who compete for cash prizes over a span of twelve weeks. Whoever loses the highest percentage of weight wins the prizes. If you’ve watched this show in the past, you might be interested in how to calculate your percentage of weight loss from week-to-week or over an extended-period-of-time. While the calculation is relatively simple, the jury’s still out on how effective knowing your percentage is as a weight loss tool.

 To determine your percentage of weight loss, divide the number of pounds you lost by your starting weight. Multiply your answer by 100 to arrive at the percentage. For instance, if an individual weighing 200 pounds loses 50 pounds, he or she will experience a weight loss of 25 percent. 

Problems with the Biggest Loser

By looking at weight loss as a percentage rather than a raw number, multiple people can compare their efforts regardless of their starting weights. You can create and share leader boards with other family members and friends who are striving to lose weight. For some people, a little friendly competition can be extremely motivating. For others, competing to lose the most weight can be counterproductive. In their zeal to win, these people might develop unhealthy habits such as: 

  • Exercising obsessively
  • Banning entire food groups from their diets
  • Restricting calories excessively

Once the competition is over, these people likely won’t sustain these habits. Therefore, weight gain is almost guaranteed.

Calculating Your Body Mass Index

While calculating the percentage of weight lost can be helpful, the Body Mass Index, referred to as BMI, is thought to be the most dependable assessment of weight as it correlates to health. Your BMI, calculated using your height and weight, is an estimation of your body fat. As your BMI climbs, your risk for certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some kinds of cancers, and gallstones will also likely increase. If you’re interested in calculating your BMI, go to the “Our Approach” section of the Metabolic Research Center’s website.

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