BMI in men: the most important questions and answers

BMI bei Männern: Die wichtigsten Fragen und Antworten

Overweight and weight problems are a widespread problem in Germany. At almost 40 percent, men in Germany are more overweight than women. The BMI is a measure to calculate the body fat percentage and to find out if and how healthy you live. It is an indicator of underweight, normal weight or overweight. (1)

How to calculate BMI in men? What exactly does it say and what do you as a man have to pay attention to in your everyday life in order to achieve a healthy BMI? In this article we want to answer all questions about BMI in men and show you how you can achieve your optimal BMI.

the essentials in brief

  • The body mass index, BMI for short, for men puts body weight in relation to height and represents a measure for assessing underweight, normal weight or overweight. Compared to the general BMI, the BMI for men takes into account the higher energy requirements and the greater body mass of men men.
  • The BMI in men is usually higher than in women and increases with age. The BMI is largely dependent on how heavy a man is. A BMI that is too high can indicate obesity or other diseases. A BMI that is too low can be an indication of underweight or illness.
  • The BMI for men leaves out important influencing factors such as body fat percentage or the weight of muscles and bones. According to the BMI, a strength athlete can be overweight although he is fit and healthy because the BMI does not include his muscle weight. Conversely, a professional racing driver can be underweight according to the BMI, although he lives a healthy life despite his low weight and has a balanced proportion of muscles.

Calculating and understanding BMI in men: what you need to know

The BMI as a unit of measurement fulfills various functions and shows whether you have a healthy body weight. For men, however, there are a few peculiarities in the calculation and its significance. In the following we answer the most frequently asked questions about BMI in men and show you what you should pay attention to.

Definition: What is Body Mass Index?

The body mass index, or BMI for short, is a unit of measurement used to determine your normal weight. For its calculation, height and weight are put in relation to each other in order to assess whether someone is underweight, normal weight or overweight. It is used for the so-called weight classification. Based on this, different weight classes can be used to assess whether a person has a healthy or unhealthy body weight. (2)

What is the function of the BMI?

Since body weight alone is not sufficient to assess whether a person is overweight, normal weight or underweight, a closer look is required.

The BMI puts height and weight in relation to each other and thus enables a more precise assessment of whether someone is at a healthy weight. However, individual factors such as gender, body fat percentage and physique are not taken into account.

The BMI for men is more specific and takes into account the individual body characteristics of men when determining the mean values. These include, for example, a higher proportion of body mass and a higher energy requirement. Thus, the BMI for men shows average and limit values ​​specifically for weight and age classes in men. (3)

How is BMI calculated for men?

As just mentioned, BMI does not include all aspects of your body. On average, men have more muscle mass as well as more body mass in general. Since men are larger and heavier than women on average, there are different guidelines and average values ​​when calculating the BMI for men. Men have a different normal weight than women.

The normal average for the BMI for men is 20 to 25 kg per m², for women it is lower. (4)

In general, BMI is calculated as follows (5) :

Body weight (in kg) divided by height (in m) squared


You are 1.80 meters tall and weigh 85 kilograms. Then you calculate:

1.80 x 1.80 = 3.24

Then you divide your body weight by this value:

85 : 3.24 = 26.2

So your BMI is 26, which puts you in the normal weight class. The BMI is calculated for you as a man in the same way as for women, but is classified in comparison tables that are suitable for you. In the next question we will answer how you can tell whether your BMI is correct.

What BMI is ideal for men? What your BMI value says

You now know how to calculate your BMI and that you have to be careful to compare your BMI with the average values ​​for men. The following table shows the average BMI for men in Germany sorted by age group.

criteria 18 - 29 years 30 - 39 years 40 - 49 years 60 - 69 years 79+
Height in cm 179 179 178 176 175
body weight in kg 79.6 86 87 87.4 87.3
BMI 24.5 26.8 27.6 27.9 28.8

Note, however, that the BMI alone does not have to say anything concrete about your health. You can have an optimal BMI, but still have too high a body fat percentage with too little muscle mass. Furthermore, the BMI does not take into account whether you are a smoker, drink a lot of alcohol or have other habits that can damage your health.

If you want to understand more precisely how healthy your weight is, you should also consider body fat percentage and lipid metabolism activity. You can find out exactly what you can do to achieve a healthy weight further down in the article. (6)

Why are men allowed to have a higher BMI in old age?

Since the BMI in men is based on body weight, it also depends to a large extent on how high our energy requirements are. The older we get, the more factors that affect our basal metabolism change. For example, our metabolism changes and with it the way in which calories we need when and how our body processes them.

man on the beach

The BMI for men increases with age. But only up to 75 years. From here it decreases again with age because the metabolism changes. (Image source: Arek Socha/Pixabay)

The performance turnover and our performance also change with increasing age. This affects our activity and endurance. If you don't do sports until you get old, your energy consumption will also decrease as your performance decreases, although your weight and size remain relatively the same. The result: the BMI increases.

The hormonal balance also changes and causes muscle breakdown. Men are less affected by this than women. In men, the basal metabolic rate decreases less than in women due to the hormone balance in old age, by around 375 kilocalories. Thus, the BMI value for men also increases with age. (7)

As the table below shows, the average normal BMI for men increases with age.

Old average BMI
18 to under 20 years 23.2
20 to under 25 years 24.2
25 to under 30 years 25.3
30 to under 35 years 26
35 to under 40 years 26.4
40 to under 55 years 27.3
55 to under 65 years 27.8
65 to under 75 years 27.5
75 years and older 26.8

Especially from the age of 50 and 65, the BMI for men increases. However, it also applies here that your BMI value depends on you as an individual. For example, if you do sports in old age and pay attention to your diet, your energy requirements will also increase and your muscles will not lose mass as quickly. (8th)

What BMI in men is dangerous?

A BMI greater than 25 kg/m² is considered overweight in men. From a value of 30 one speaks of obesity, i.e. pathological overweight. The higher the BMI, the higher the risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

A BMI between 30 and 35 is class 1 obesity, a BMI between 35 and 40 is class 2 obesity, and a BMI over 40 is class 3 obesity. A BMI that is too high is therefore particularly dangerous because being overweight can have health consequences. (9)

According to a study by the Lancet Public Health, overweight people over the age of 40 are twice as likely to develop cardiometabolic disease as people of normal weight. This risk increases massively as the degree of obesity increases.

For example, the risk of heart attacks and other heart diseases increases fifteenfold from obesity grade III. This applies to both men and women. The risk of developing venous diseases or type 2 diabetes also increases enormously with increasing BMI.(10)

The following table shows the limits for your BMI (11):

BMI limits category
under 18.5 underweight
18.5 to 24.9 normal weight
25 to 29.9 Overweight – slightly overweight
30 to 34.9 Obesity grade I, moderate obesity
35 to 39.9 Grade II obesity, severe obesity
≥ 40 Grade III obesity, extreme obesity

A BMI that is too low can also be dangerous. If your BMI is below 19, you may be underweight. However, this also depends on other factors such as how much body fat you have, whether you have a medical condition and what your daily activities are. (11)

What are the causes of high BMI in men?

The main cause of high BMI in men is obesity. Depending on the degree of overweight, this can have arisen for various reasons. One of the most common reasons is known to be an unbalanced and unhealthy diet and too little exercise.

Man measures his circumference

Both mild and severe forms of obesity are the result of a high BMI value. Men in particular suffer from diseases caused by being overweight, such as type 2 diabetes. (Image source: Bruno Germany/Pixabay)

It's not just the wrong diet or lack of exercise that can drive up your BMI. Genetic predispositions or certain diseases can also be the cause of a BMI that is too high in men.

The most common reasons for being overweight are:

  • Too little movement
  • Wrong diet (unbalanced, too much fatty food)
  • Too much food
  • Genetic predispositions
  • stress
  • diseases
  • certain medications
  • Deficiency symptoms such as vitamin D deficiency

Diseases that are common in men and promote obesity include hypothyroidism, psychological eating disorders, psychological stress, depression and mental illnesses in general.

Taking certain medications, especially those prescribed for depression, can also lead to weight gain or increased appetite. Increased alcohol consumption can also lead to weight gain. (12)

Optimal BMI for men - tips & tricks

In order to get a good BMI value and thus an optimal body weight, no rocket science is required. However, you should pay attention to a few things in your everyday life. In the following we want to give you the most important tips for your optimal BMI.

The right diet

In order to achieve an optimal BMI for men, you should ensure a balanced diet and not eat too much or too little. How many and which calories you need per day depends on what your everyday life looks like. Do you exercise a lot or little per day? Do you sit a lot at work?

If you want to know exactly how much energy in the form of food you need per day, you should use your individual calorie basal metabolic rate

calculate. This includes the facts just mentioned, including weight and size.

measuring a toast

A balanced diet is not only beneficial for your optimal BMI. It boosts your immune system and can also improve your mental health. (Image Source: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay)

There is neither a standard nutritional plan nor a guideline for the ideal foods. However, if you want to lose weight quickly without starting a long diet, the following tips for a healthier diet can help you (13):

  • Balance: Each meal should be roughly 50 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent protein, and 20 percent fat
  • Enough protein: Make sure you have enough protein sources in your meals so that you don't lose muscle when you lose weight
  • Veggie power: Make sure you eat enough plant-based food
  • The right fats: Prefer vegetable and saturated fats
  • Little fast food : Avoid too much ready meals and industrial sugar
  • Quality: Buy high-quality food, preferably unprocessed
  • Raw Food: Eat fresh fruits and vegetables several times a week
  • Fiber: Don’t forget to eat high-fiber foods like nuts or lentils from time to time
  • Hydration: Drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water or unsweetened tea per day
  • Don't rush: take your time with your food and eat consciously and slowly, so you'll quickly get full even from small amounts

Especially for you as a man, it is important to know your energy needs and to cover them properly. Because, as already mentioned, men naturally have a higher basal metabolic rate and more muscle and body mass. On average, men consume 2400 kilocalories a day. If you would like to find out your individual basal metabolic rate, there are special calculators on the Internet or you can get advice from a fitness studio.(14)

Enough exercise

Diet isn't the only thing that determines your optimal BMI. Getting enough exercise is also important. Especially if your health is important to you in addition to your weight. You don't have to be a member of a gym right away. You can quickly reduce your body fat percentage by jogging three times a week and at the same time improve endurance and the cardiovascular system.

Cars, escalators, elevators and sedentary office work have taken a lot of exercise out of everyday life. In view of the fact that we humans move far too little today compared to earlier times, even a daily walk can be enough to give your body the necessary balance.

You can achieve the optimum BMI with sufficient exercise. It also reduces your body fat percentage and prevents diseases.

According to studies, you should exercise at least 5 hours a week to compensate for 8 hours of sitting a day. Because we humans are programmed to run by nature, exercise can contribute to maintaining a healthy body weight.

Sufficient exercise not only helps to achieve an optimal weight, but also prevents diseases associated with a too high BMI. These include, for example, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, venous diseases or type 2 diabetes. (15)

BMI in certain diseases

As already mentioned, the BMI for men as a measure alone is not sufficient to assess where your overweight or underweight comes from. Because with certain diseases, such as hypothyroidism or type 2 diabetes, the body tends to gain weight faster.

Conversely, diseases such as an overactive thyroid gland or multiple sclerosis ensure that you generally weigh less and therefore have a BMI that is too low.

The lower body weight in these cases is due to the disease-related malfunction in calorie intake or muscle wasting. (17) Mental illnesses also influence your body weight and thus your BMI. For example, in most cases, taking antidepressants causes weight gain or increased appetite. (16)

blood pressure gauges

The BMI can not only favor certain diseases if it is too high or too low. Conversely, certain diseases can also cause an unhealthy BMI in men. (Image Source: Steve Buissinne/Pixababy)

So if you have an illness or are taking pills, a BMI that is too high and too low does not necessarily mean that you are unhealthy or that you should eat more or less. In this case, if you want to know more precisely where your excess weight comes from, you should use other units of measurement, such as the proportion of water, blood and fat in your body or the ratio of hip and abdominal circumference. (17)

BMI in athletes

The same, as just mentioned, also applies to your BMI value if you are an athlete. Because the more intense your physical activity per day and per week, the higher your basal metabolic rate. Since the BMI for men is based on a higher basal metabolic rate anyway and is therefore higher than for women, it often increases in athletes.

The opposite can also be the case when you do endurance sports. A lean cyclist may have a BMI that is too low, indicating underweight. He is in good physical condition and has a balanced distribution of water, fat and blood in the body and consumes an above-average number of calories every day.

If you do sports, it can happen that the BMI value incorrectly assumes that you are overweight or underweight, since it does not include your fat and muscle percentage.

Conversely, if you are doing weight training, for example, and have a high muscle percentage with a lower body fat percentage, it can happen that your BMI shows you that you are overweight. Although you weigh more than the average for your size category, this does not mean that you are overweight in the unhealthy sense of obesity.

On the contrary, you are obviously fit and doing a lot for your exercise and your diet. Again, the BMI is only a rough guideline, which can also lead to misinterpretations when other aspects are taken into account.

As mentioned above, as an athlete, you should pay particular attention to a protein-rich diet . (18)


The BMI for men is a practical and easy-to-calculate indicator to assess what weight class you are in and how balanced your body weight to height ratio is.

There are all kinds of comparison tables and average values, which gives you a good comparison to other weight classes. The average BMI for men also has the advantage of being specifically tailored to you as a man.

The BMI for men takes into account your higher basal metabolic rate and your higher body mass percentage. The classification is gender-specific and thus provides different normal values ​​that suit you, depending on your age group. On average, men have a higher BMI than women. BMI increases with age, more so in men than in women.


  1. Anja Schienkiewitz, Gert BM Mensink, Ronny Kuhnert, Cornelia Lange; Journal of Health Monitoring (2017) Robert Koch Institute, Berlin Source
  2. Robert Koch Institute; Data and facts: results of the study "Health in Germany Update 2010"; Contributions to federal health reporting. RKI, Berlin (2012) Source
  3. federal health reporting; Definition: Body Mass Index (2021) Source
  4. federal health reporting; Body mass index (average and distribution of the population by body mass index group (in percent)). Outline feature: Gender (2017) Source
  9. Contributions to federal health reporting ; Men's health (2014) Source
  10. Mika Kivimäki et al.; Overweight, obesity, and risk of cardiometabolic multimorbidity: pooled analysis of individual-level data for 120813 adults from 16 cohort studies from the USA and Europe; Lancet Public Health (2017) Source
  11. WHO; classification of body mass index; Overweight and Obesity - Health Reporting - Special Issues (2003) Source
  12. DEGS, Robert Koch Institute; Study on the health of adults in Germany (2013) Source
  13. dr Caroline Krems et al.; National Consumption Study II (2013) Source
  18. Connor B Weir; Arif Jan; BMI Classification Percentile And Cut Off Points (2010) Source
  19. federal health reporting; Methodological explanations for recording and evaluating the body mass index (2010) Source
  20. Geoffrey C Kabat et al.; Scaling of Weight for Height in Relation to Risk of Cancer at Different Sites in a Cohort of Canadian Women (2013) Source
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