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Is a BMI of 26 good for males and females?

Is a BMI of 26 good for males and females?

While most adults have a BMI that’s greater than 26, a BMI of 26 is still considered overweight by major health authorities. So, does that mean that anyone who registers a 26 BMI score is doomed?

Not necessarily. While it might be beneficial to lose weight if you have a body mass index of 26, BMI doesn’t distinguish between muscle mass and fat tissue.

As such, your BMI score can only tell you about your general body size in relation to your height; it can’t tell you for certain if you’re carrying excess fat even if you have an average BMI.

More BMI Guides:

Is a BMI of 26 good for females?

A picture of a BMI 26 female

Is a BMI of 26 good for females? A BMI of 26 is considered overweight for women even though it is nearly four BMI points lower than average for a woman.

Women naturally carry more fat than men, meaning that females are expected to have higher BMIs on average than males.

And while it’s possible to be healthy with an overweight BMI if you have a learner physique rather than a fat body, research does suggest that those with a normal BMI (rather than an underweight or overweight one) are the healthiest. [1]

Overall, given that a 26 BMI score is only one BMI point into the overweight category, it’s probably not a massive concern for a woman unless her body fat (particularly around her waist) is excessive.

Is a 26 BMI good for males?

A man who has a 26 BMI

Is a 26 BMI good for males? While a BMI of 26 is lower than average for a man, a body mass index of 26 is still considered overweight for males.

Of course, some men have a lot of muscle mass, particularly those who lift weights with the aim of gaining size.

This is in contrast to sedentary men who perform little to no exercise. In this case, the man would have minimal muscle mass but a high amount of body fat, resulting in an unhealthy body.

The amount of fat around your waist is more important for determining your health than your BMI because a large waist is indicative of visceral fat, which can wrap around your internal organs.

On the contrary, you could have a slim waist and low body fat percentage while having a BMI of 26 if you have a lot of muscle mass. The fact that BMI doesn’t distinguish between lean mass and fat is its main limitation. [2]

What does a BMI of 26 actually look like?

A woman showing that a BMI of 26 is good for females like her

As you might have guessed, it’s not possible to say what a BMI of 26 looks like for a man or for a woman. 

This is simply because a given body mass index score doesn’t tell us anything about a person’s body composition.

Sure, if someone has a really low BMI, then they probably don’t have much muscle mass, so we can estimate that they’d have a skinny physique.

Likewise, if an individual has a very high BMI, then they’re probably carrying a lot of excess body fat.

But when you fall somewhere in the middle, it’s not possible to say (just based on BMI) whether you’re fat, lean, or somewhere in between.

Typical BMI 26 grades

bmi in letters next to fitness gear

Using an online body mass index calculator is the best way to quickly check your own BMI and learn what BMI a particular height/weight combination is equal to.

26.1 BMI

If you have a BMI of 26.1, then you’re around one BMI point into the overweight classification. In this case, you might want to lose weight if you have more fat than muscle.

26.2 BMI

A 26.2 BMI is still overweight, even though it’s a fair bit lower than average for both men and women. Whether you need to lower your weight depends on how much muscle and fat you’re carrying.

26.3 BMI

A BMI of 26.3 means that you’re classed as overweight. But as with any body mass index score, a 26.3 BMI doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to have a certain body composition.

26.4 BMI

If you’ve got a BMI of 26.4, then your body mass index is slightly above the normal range and into the overweight category. Many people with a 26.4 BMI will benefit from losing weight if they have a lot of fat around their waist.

26.5 BMI

A 26.5 BMI is still on the low end of the overweight classification. If you have a BMI of 26.5, then you could be very lean and muscular, but you could also be quite fat and have relatively little muscle mass.

26.6 BMI

If you have a 26.6 BMI, then your body weight falls into the overweight category. Of course, given that body mass index can’t measure body fat and muscle mass directly, it’s not possible to say categorically that a BMI of 26.6 is healthy or unhealthy.

26.7 BMI

A 26.7 BMI, although classed as overweight, is still 2-3 BMI points lower than usual for an American adult. So while you can certainly have a BMI of 26.7 and still be fat, you likely won’t be as fat as the average person.

26.8 BMI

A BMI of 26.8 is comfortably in the overweight body mass index category for males and females. A person with a 26.8 BMI likely has slightly too much body fat or a considerable amount of muscle mass.

26.9 BMI

If you have a BMI of 26.9, then you might want to slim down if you have excess body fat because a 26.9 BMI is considered overweight for adults.

In conclusion: What is the meaning of a 26 BMI score?

The meaning of a 26 BMI score depends on your body composition. Let me explain.

If your waist is large and your limbs are thin, for example, that’s an indication that you have more fat tissue than muscle mass. In this case, losing body fat and performing resistance training are your best bets.

Conversely, if you have minimal body fat (you don’t need to be ripped) and a considerable amount of lean mass (muscle and bone), then you can likely be healthy while having a BMI of 26.


  1. Klatsky, A. L., Zhang, J., Udaltsova, N., Li, Y., & Tran, H. N. (2017). Body Mass Index and Mortality in a Very Large Cohort: Is It Really Healthier to Be Overweight?. The Permanente journal21, 16–142.
  2. Flegal, K. M., Kit, B. K., Orpana, H., & Graubard, B. I. (2013). Association of all-cause mortality with overweight and obesity using standard body mass index categories: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA309(1), 71–82.