How to Calculate Your Ideal Waist Measurements to Look Great AND Live Longer

What is WHR?

WHR stands for Waist to Height Ratio. The goal was to come up with a similar, easy to measure standard like the Body Mass Index (BMI), that could be used to evaluate someone’s overall health.

The common complaint with BMI is that it doesn’t take into account muscle mass as well as studies have found that belly fat is more dangerous than fat held elsewhere.

The main studies that covered WHR are described below.

For those that want to know fast – they found the ideal WHR to be 0.5 to lower your risk of death from all causes. That means your waist, in inches or centimeters, should be half of your height in inches or centimeters.

A systematic review of waist-to-height ratio as a screening tool for the prediction of cardiovascular disease and diabetes: 0·5 could be a suitable global boundary value.

  • Reviewed 78 studies of waist to height ratio to predict diabetes risk and cardiovascular disease
  • Oldest studies go back to 1950s
  • 0.5 was the safe ratio of waist in inches to height in inches

Waist Circumference as Compared with Body-Mass Index in Predicting Mortality from Specific Causes

  • Over 225,000 men and women were screened to compare causes of death to either waist circumference or BMI.
  • Increased WC from stomach fat was related to a higher risk of death independent of BMI

A systematic review of body fat distribution and mortality in older people.

  • Review of studies
  • 2700 studies reviewed
  • 25 were selected for the analysis of fat distribution and death
  • BMI was not the best predictor of death in elderly populations.
  • The studies actually predicted that overweight BMI led to the lowest deaths. But were these people overweight or did they have more muscle? There was nothing in the studies to link BMI to stomach fat so there’s no way to know the real link between BMI and health.

Let’s use my body as an example. I’m 5’10” which is 70 inches. According to the WHR studies, my waist should be below 35 inches to reduce my risk of death. It’s there but a 35” waist for my height makes me look pretty fat.

What’s nice about the WHR is that it’s a pretty easy goal to hit since it’s far from a six-pack but we want to actually look good too, not just be healthy.

What would make me look great and be healthy?

We hit the WHR but we want more.

Let’s take it to the ideal. To do that you’ll want to use some kind of number goal to make things specific. One of the common “you look strong” ratios out there is the Golden Ratio from the Adonis Effect.

What is the Golden Ratio?

Created by John Barban and Kyle Leon, it was an attempt to set ratios of waist to shoulders, wrist to arm, etc. In theory these ratios are supposed to be seen as the most attractive. Obviously that’s a bid crazy since attractiveness is so subjective; however, there are some good points and it gives some measurable guidelines to shoot for rather than just trying to get “more muscular”.

The one ratio we’ll use as an example is the “Golden Ratio” of shoulders to waist. That ratio is 1.618 which means your shoulders should be 1.618 times larger than your waist in inches (or whatever units you want to use).

This gives you a big shoulders, a small waist, and that upside-down v-shape which most consider to look strong.

The shoulder to waist ratio is the 20% of the effort to get 80% of the results. Wide shoulders and a small waist will make you look fit to most people. It’s a good starting place.

Once you get there you can move on to the other ratios of the Adonis Index if you want. You can find them all here. They all revolve around the ratio 1.618 comparing different body parts (shoulders to waist, upper thigh to knee, arms to wrist)

What’s the easiest way to hit your golden ratio? Building muscle is slow and the goal of this 30 day experiment is getting weight under control through meal prep and keeping fat less than 20% of total calories.

So the easiest way to hit the golden ratio is to get that waist small first, which will naturally give you that contrast with your shoulders since your shoulders will always be bigger than the waist.

For me the lowest I can maintain is roughly a 31” waist. I’ve done it in the past and that’s the goal this time as well. A flat stomach, clothes fit, but not necessarily a six pack. More of a six pack ghost.

Following that goal leads to these shoulder measurements…

31” waist * 1.618 Golden Ratio = 50.2” shoulders

I’m currently at 46.25” shoulders so we’re a way to go but that’s for a future muscle gain experiment.