Numbers and statistics can be helpful tools for measuring your fitness level over time. But like any tool, it’s important to use the numbers correctly and numbers alone can’t tell you the full story. Many people obsess way too much over the number on their bathroom scale. While it does help you monitor weight, you should keep in mind weight varies a little day-to-day and increases in lean muscle mass adds pounds to the scale. How you feel and how you look in the mirror can be better “measures” of your overall health than the scale. Caloric requirements, basal metabolism, body mass and heart rate are common numbers to help you keep you on track.
Calories Don’t Lie
A calorie measures the energy values of food. The USDA bases its daily nutritional requirements, including calories, on a 2,000-calorie diet. This fitness number is based on a hypothetical average person. Your daily caloric needs will be more or less depending on factors like gender, age and activity level. There are online resources that can tip you off about your particular needs (source). You can also use some of our low carb recipes to stay on track. Visit our ” Eat it” page to help you get to your fitness goals.
Technically, your Basal Metabolic Rate is the rate at which your body burns calories while at rest on an empty stomach. You have to fast for twelve hours to calculate this fitness number. Much like daily caloric requirements, BMR, is calculated using your sex, age, height and weight. Curious about your BMI? Use this BMI calculator to gauge yours! More accurate measures require you to have your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels analyzed.
Fitness Tips: While BMI is a good way to track your fitness, it’s not my favorite. If you have high amounts of muscle on your body, this can drive your weight up. This is due to density of muscle. Muscle ways more than fat! That’s why body fat and measuring your inches is a key factor.
Another great and more accurate number is your body fat. This will give you a more accurate picture of your fat to muscle ratio. It can then be used as a way to guide you on your way to a better body. Most health and fitness clubs have a way to measure this. Once of the most accurate and less invasive (not many people want to do a dunk tank), is the body fat calipers.
Body Mass Index has become a popular fitness number, but keep this tip in mind: the online BMI calculators are even less accurate than the other calculators because they don’t take body composition into account. The number is an estimate based on your sex, age, height, weight and lifestyle. If you actually are big-boned or have a good amount of muscle your BMI number can be a little askew, suggesting you’re overweight according to the scale (source).
At Rest and on target
Resting heart rate is perhaps the single most important factor in predicting longevity. The more fit you are the lower your resting heart rate because a well-trained heart is more efficient. The average resting heart rate or pulse is 60-80 beats per minute. A very fit person can have a resting heart rate of 40. You determine your resting heart rate by placing two fingers on your wrist then count the numbers of beats in 60 seconds. The target heart rate is what you want to hit during exercise. Take your pulse during a workout. Your target is 50-80 percent of your maximum heart rate, which you get by subtracting your age from 220 (source).
Next time you think about fitness, think about these 4 key points. What you see in the mirror isn’t always the best representation.