‘Quarantine 15’

 Covid 19 has upended routines. With comfort food recipes trending on Instagram and TikTok we’ve come out of the pandemic 15 pounds stronger (on average)!  While the pandemic was successful in getting people to invest in home gyms, expensive exercise equipment (170% increase in sales) and fitness trackers (18% increase in sales) it failed to innovate how we track what we eat.   People started exercising at a greater frequency as compared to before the pandemic became a global crisis.  What we also excelled in was the quantity of high fatty, sugary, baked goods we were indulging in!  These indulgences are made worse during the holiday season – I mean how can you resist the delicious Thanksgiving feast, the weekly pumpkin cream cold brew fix or a hot chocolate while watching your favorite holiday movie?  It’s almost impossible.

Why can’t our fitness goals be digitized?  There are so many companies out there that offer fitness subscription classes, a plethora of fitness tracker wearables, and apps that track your movement and deliver stats based off of that but why is it that when it comes to the most important aspect of keeping fit and reaching your goals it’s all still old school?  Regardless of what your fitness goal may be: weight loss, weight gain, gaining muscle, maintaining weight, keto, high carb, high protein diet – it all comes down to 20% diet and 80% exercise. 

Regardless of how much you workout there is no way to reach your fitness goal without proper nutrition to complement that routine.  COVID has definitely increased awareness within the fitness and health industries resulting in digitization of these industries but there is a lot of manual work put into keeping your food intake in check.  We do all sorts of crazy things from weighing our food, to ensuring it is the correct portion size, to scanning the bar code on the food package or searching through a list of food items on an app.

We have all been guilty of logging in our food intake for the day at some point to see how much food we are actually consuming.  I find such apps cumbersome since it requires an active effort on my part to honestly input quantity and create a breakdown of my food intake for the day.  There are a lot of apps made available to us where the user has to input the quantity and type of food consumed throughout the day.  It’s such a backwards approach to fitness. There should be a way for a device to tell me how much I’ve consumed and what my macro breakdown is on its own with minimal work on my part. The device should also be able to take into account my activity level and calories burned for the day when determining if I’m on track to achieve my goals.

This had me thinking and I wanted to see if there’s a wearable technology that quantifies the nutritional intake of adults. 

Here is what I found: 

  • GoBe2 and GoBe3 are both wearable devices that track calorie intake, body hydration and stress levels – all key components when trying to drop a few pounds since it ultimately comes down to how much calorie deficit you have in a day.  It tracks the calories consumed, calories burned and has some of the functions of fitness trackers already in the market.   Using the FLOW technology, it eliminates the error prone guess work of correctly estimating portion size.  
  • Sharper image has a calorie tracking band priced at $199.99, claiming to be the first wearable device that tracks calories through one’s skin.  With built-in bioelectrical impedance sensors that manage fluid levels for a glucose curve it eliminates the need to log in your food or guess proportion sizes. 
GoBe2

Looking at the few products available on the market, I was not convinced by them and did not like their design.

The personalized nutrition market is still quite fresh and untapped.  To mitigate all the various health problems that are caused by poor nutrition, health and fitness, having a smart wearable device that can track these things for you while suggesting changes to make to your diet would be a game changer.

Our dietary habits are the biggest contributor to most of the health problems we face today.  High cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, osteoporosis, and sleep apnea are some of the many diseases directly linked to poor dietary habits.  These medical conditions have contributed greatly to the burden of disease we face today all over the world.  People with these preexisting conditions were high risk individuals during this pandemic.  Just as physical fitness has been revolutionized during the last few years and was sped up during the pandemic, healthy eating and nutrition is another sector that can greatly benefit us as a society. 

I want something that notifies me I’ve maxed out my allotted macros of the day just as I’m reaching over for my second helping of cake!  That would be revolutionary.

Do you guys thing this is something we as a society can benefit from?  Say Apple watch comes up with that feature, would that reduce the burden of disease on the healthcare system by keeping chronic diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol, and obesity in check?  

10 comments

  1. I think that macro counting is actually counter productive in the long run and often leads to binging. The real issue is processed food. Our bodies are not evolved to eat it so it tricks you into thinking you’re less full then you actually are and also addicts you. If you think about, during the hunter-gatherer era, food was scarce so it was advantageous to fill up on a little. On average, this leads to an average consumption of 500 extra calories per day. That amounts to pound of body fat a week. What I would like to see is a watch that tracks not just the macro count but also the quality of the food.

  2. Having a macros recording device would be a luxury worth purchasing. I have been able to maintain a healthy weight and BMI simply through daily guess work and eating in moderation. My wife and I purchased a Fit Track scale a few months ago which has provided some insights beyond simple weight. It probably isn’t the most exact method for measuring the dozen or so metrics it provides, but it does help us establish trends for them.

  3. I really enjoy your line of thinking here, and the need for an additional product in this space. I think that one thing I have been shocked to find out is that food pyramid I so remember seeing everywhere as a kid was a product of government lobbying by different food industries to boost their products (hello bad bad dairy lobby). Part of the reason that we, as individuals, are poorly equipped to regulate our own intake is that the information is hard to come by and quite cumbersome in trying to track and manage. Please keep me in the loop if you come across any new products!

    1. The food pyramid recommended 6-11 serving of simple carbs which is absolutely bonkers.

  4. Love this post (really really great job!) and agree that innovation would have grand ramifications in the healthcare industry.

    It seems to me that the challenge is the need for the wearable to track internal body processes. Our class presentation on the innovations in diabetes (those wearable testing prickers that use bluetooth to connect with iPhone app) would seem to help here, but I don’t think I’d be comfortable wearing something like that ever — let alone frequently enough for effective tracking (but that’s mostly because I’m a little squeamish when it comes to needles).

    The reason tracking is so hard, too, is that it’s largely psychological. Noom seems to be having great success (one of my coworkers lost 15 lbs using it!) and that’s just an app that gives you accountability by talking to psychologists that encourage you to eat better and delve into why you aren’t.

    I echo Karl’s request to be kept in the loop if you find any better tech here!!

    Also, just want to point out an accidental typo: it’s (allegedly) 80% diet and 20% exercise (https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/a19982520/weight-loss-80-percent-diet-20-percent-exercise/) — and I know that’s what you meant to say!

  5. Nice post. I think the biggest barrier to these tools is it’s probably a manual process to estimate the calories, which becomes labor-intensive. Exercise monitoring is easier (motion, heart rate, etc). Having looked into it, I’m a bit skeptical about the science behind the GoBe devices. I’m just not sure that I buy the whole “we can monitor your calorie burn based on the extracellular fluid flow.” Nevertheless, good deep dive into the topic.

  6. This is a very interesting device! I looked at their website and they just came out with the Go Be 3, which is slightly more appealing, however I still think the design is too big. I think the idea behind it is great, I would love to see how many calories I consume on a daily basis and how many I burn without having to manually input them in an app. I would definitely purchase an Apple Watch if they had this feature however I wonder whether Healby has a patent on the technology?

  7. Pretty great idea for a device, I think the key to all fitness-related devices is the ease of use. People want to put in as little effort as possible to get the results they’re looking for which is why wearable tech that does all the thinking has been so popular. Even with working out in general, pre-pandemic I never would have considered getting on a Peloton and now I’m about to buy one when I move in a couple of months. What I like about it most is the ability to not have to think and instead just hop on and know that a half-hour later I’ll be a puddle of sweat and feel great. I think the 80/20 breakdown you gave is interesting as well, for myself, I’d say it’s 60% diet and 40% exercise..with a moderate approach to both.

  8. I love this idea of a more comprehensive tracker of one’s nutrition level. During COVID, I have been focused on my health and specifically my BMI. Similar to Tanker, I have been doing guesswork each day on my daily caloric intake and the amount of processed foods I am eating. I would love a more scientific approach, and also a way to see how my daily exercise is impacting my nutrition levels. For example, I eat roughly the same each day I workout vs. the day’s I don’t. Should I change this? Great post and looking forward to seeing how this tech evolves

  9. I agree there needs to be more innovation to monitor our food intake. It’s certainly possible, but I also agree with your statement that current wearable devices in the market are poorly designed, and include a lack of privacy, and challenging to maintain. I believe the best way to accomplish this goal is to develop an app that maintains a centralized database of dietary information across most foods and meals. This app can be added to smart watches, iPhones, and modern refrigerators to track what you are consuming. Of course, it would include some manual labor to log what you are eating but consumers should adjust quickly since we perform the same steps to monitor our fitness. Just a thought. Great post!

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