Medir para mejorar

Measure to Improve

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“You can’t improve what you can’t measure.” This phrase, whose author is uncertain (in some places it is attributed to Peter Drucker and in others to Lord Kelvin) illustrates an uncomfortable fact for many people: if you take things seriously, you have to measure to improve. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. How can I know if I’m doing things right or wrong if I don’t have any point of reference? Today we’re going to look at the four things you should measure to get better, and how you should measure them to make sure you’re on track.

  • Measure the calories you eat vs the calories you need

As we saw in this previous post , caloric balance is the foundation of any body composition goal you have. Whether you want to gain weight, lose it, or maintain it, you need to have as accurate an idea as possible about whether or not your current eating habits are on that track.

Taking weight loss (which is the most common goal) as an example, the only way to ensure you’re in a caloric deficit without measuring what you eat or what your maintenance calories are, would be to adopt a very restrictive diet. This would be a bigger deficit than you probably need, making you hungrier, less adherent to the diet, increasing your chances of quitting before you reach your goal, and rebounding once you do.

Likewise, if your goal is to gain weight and you go for a large caloric surplus, chances are you’ll gain a lot of fat in the process that you’ll need to lose later.

How can I know how many calories I eat vs. what I need?

The first thing is to know the calories I need each day. To do this we are going to calculate our daily caloric expenditure using the Harris-Benedict equation :

Women: (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) – 161

Men: (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) + 5

If you don’t want to do the numbers, nothing happens. Just go into Google and search for “Harris Benedict calculator” and you will get many pages that do the calculation for you for free. We like the one from CalcuWorld , but any other you find may be just as good.

If you want to stay at your current weight, those are the calories you should eat. If you want to lose weight you should aim for a slight deficit (10-20% less than you need) and if you want to gain weight you should aim for a slight surplus (10-20% more than you need). It is important to note that both to gain or to lose weight, the differentials need to be small.

The next thing is to measure the calories you eat per day. For this there are many apps that calculate it for you. Many of them have free and paid versions. Two of the most popular are Fat Secret or My Fitness Pal . We like the first one better, but we’ve used both and both work well.

How to measure calories and macros
  • Measure the proteins you eat

As we saw in this previous article , proteins are the only macro of which you need a specific amount: between 1.5 and 2 grams per kilo of ideal bodyweight per day. If you’re not measuring what you eat, you’re almost certainly not even close to this number.

The good news is that if you have decided to measure your calories, as we indicated in the previous point, the same application will also give you the protein in what you have eaten. Remember that, in the case of protein, as with so many other things, more is not better . Taking amounts of protein well above the 2 grams per kilo mentioned will not translate into more muscle and sustaining very high intakes for a long time can cause other types of problems.

  • Measure the steps you take per day

Our bodies are designed to be much more active than most of us are. All of us who have office jobs spend too many hours a day sitting or lying down. Training helps, but it’s not enough. Even if you train for an hour a day (which most don’t), that’s 4% of your day. Setting a step goal will help you have that additional activity that has so many benefits. In addition to adding a few calories to your daily spending, you’ll enjoy the benefits of being outdoors and take time away from more unproductive activities like watching TV or social media.

How to measure steps

You can measure your steps through activity bracelets, smart watches or, without having to invest money, with your mobile phone

  • Measure your strength training

The best way to have more consistency when it comes to strength training is to measure our achievements, in weight and number of repetitions. The way I usually measure my workouts is to multiply the weights by the repetitions and get the total number of kilos I have moved in the session. In this way I can see if the session has had enough intensity or not, and if I am managing to increase the load progressively.

If you’re just starting out with strength training, it’s probably not necessary to go into this level of detail. It would be more than enough for you to mark on the calendar if you have trained that day or not. This way you will have a visual representation of the consistency you are having with your workouts.

Mark your achievements on a calendar

How to measure your progress

Once we have established some objectives and we are familiar with how to measure them, we recommend that you always keep them in view. The best way to do it is to print a calendar like this, in which you mark with green or red the days that you have achieved or not achieved the goal. This way you’ll have a quick visual representation of how you’re doing, and if you post the calendar in view of other people (at home or at work), this will reinforce your commitment to meet your goals. What do you think?

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