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Paralysis by Analysis – Why You’re Going Nowhere Fast

Question Mark Sitting over Blue Financial Bar Graph

We have a few clients at Bodyscan who measure EVERYTHING you can possibly imagine on their quest to improve body composition. At every visit they present slick graphs on impressive apps, bursting with meticulously measured and time-consumingly entered data.

But, despite their efforts, a lot of these people are seeing absolutely no progress in terms of lower body fat or muscle gain. Why? Because they are obsessed with measuring rather than focused on actually doing!

Tracking some data is important. A Bodyscan DEXA scan is itself an essential measurement. Without some quantifiable numbers, it’s mostly just guess work. And guess work doesn’t lead to outstanding results.

To lose body fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit, ie, consume fewer calories than your body burns (we often recommend a daily deficit of 550 calories because it equates to about half a kilo a week). So of course you need to track (or at least be mindful of) the meals you are eating to be sure you adhere to that overarching principle. Similarly, to build muscle, you need to see progress in the gym in terms of weights lifted and/or reps performed. If you are not keeping a record of your performance, it would be impossible to see any trends. There is a point however where additional data analysis does not provide better results and people often end up over-analysing. Paralysis by analysis

At Bodyscan we recommend keeping it simple and focusing only on three to four key metrics. There is no need to complicate what is a very straight-forward process. So what should you track? 

1. Calorie & protein intake
Without an accurate figure for the overall number of calories you are consuming, it’s difficult to know if you are in an appropriately sized deficit. Similarly, tracking protein is required to ensure you are consuming a sufficient amount (2g per kilo of bodyweight is a good rule of thumb).

2. Body weight
Of course, changes to body weight on their own do not paint the full picture, which is why it needs to be tracked alongside:

3. Gym performance
If you are maintaining your numbers in the gym, it’s a great sign that you’re maintaining your muscle mass. If your bodyweight is dropping at the same time, we can deduce that the change is due to a reduction in body fat.  For those who just can’t resist a bit of extra data you can also look at:

4. Measurements (waist, arm, chest, thigh)
Seeing a decrease in your waist measurement is a good proxy for fat loss. Arm, chest and thigh measurements may decrease slightly too (especially if fat is being lost around these areas), which is why these measurements should be considered in conjunction with 1, 2 & 3.

To sum up, tracking data alone doesn’t dictate success, you have to actually put the effort in to alter the numbers. Instead of focusing on useless data like how many meals you eat per day or at what time or how many grams of this or that supplement you need, focus on the basic metrics which govern the majority of your progress and track these over time so you can determine the trend. From there, adjust accordingly.

Robert Webster
Bodyscan Consultant