Biometric Feedback: Using a Smart Watch to get Perfectly SHREDDED

Nick Topel


When it comes to bodybuilding, everybody wants to burn fat while preserving muscle. It’s a delicately complex science and if you diet too quickly or too severely for a competition, you put those hard-earned gainz at a higher risk of being utilized for energy. All things equal, nutrition is the number one factor when it comes to preserving lean tissue and ultimately your success on stage—and for natural athletes specifically, the consequences of nutritional error are extreme.

More precisely, calorie balance is the most important variable in the nutrition equation. Modern research clearly shows that caloric deficits of 750-1000+ calories lasting for more than a few days are severely wasting on lean body mass – and that’s just for a few days, imagine the damage incurred by maintaining that kind of caloric deficit over the course of a 12-20-week competition prep. So, how do you control calorie balance to ensure you aren’t dieting yourself into oblivion?

Well up until recently, the only reliable way to balance calories in a competition diet was by utilizing a check and adjust method implemented over time. Here, the check and adjust is often performed on a weekly basis. But, waiting a week or more before adjusting caloric balance equates to lost opportunity in the long-haul sport of bodybuilding.

I’m here to share one of my most closely guarded methods that I have developed for taking a competition diet to the next level. It has to do with this thing called biometric feedback – the use of technology to receive information about your body to improve health and performance. With the recent advent of wearable smart technologies, namely smart watches with decently reliable heart rate monitors, data-driven bodybuilders have a fantastic new tool at their disposal, and the well-informed of the fitness community (after this article, that means YOU) can use these devices to monitor and tightly regulate energy balance with a level of control that was previously unknown.

Before we dive into the how and the why, we need to establish a background by having a brief discussion about precision versus accuracy. Accuracy refers to the closeness of a given measurement to it’s true value – if you’re wearing a smart watch and it records that you burnt 3200 calories for the day when you truly burnt 2800 calories, then the error of that measurement, or difference from the true value, is 400 calories. On the other hand, precision describes how repeatable an instrument’s readings are – if your smart watch takes the measurement 100 times, how many times will it arrive at the same result of 3200 calories? Getting the same reading 95-100 times out of 100 measurements means the instrument is pretty precise, while getting different numbers for all 100 measurements means it’s not very precise at all. Your smart watch of choice may not necessarily be accurate but it is likely very precise.

I prefer using the Fitbit for my own competition preps for a variety of reasons, so we’ll refer to this smart watch brand for the rest of the discussion. The idea is to first leverage the precision of the FitBit to establish a baseline for your daily calorie burn as recorded by the watch, and then use that benchmark to determine the FitBit’s level of accuracy with regard to true calorie burn. We can then take those two pieces of information and use them to dramatically improve the calorie balance in our diet and to prudently adjust activity levels during a competition prep.

Have I caught your attention yet? If you haven’t gone out and bought yourself a FitBit already, I bet you will by the end of this series.

Next Up:

Biometric Feedback: Using a Smart Watch to get Perfectly SHREDDED

Part 2: How to Do It

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