Nike just came out with a new FuelBand; the guise is that you wear it all day and it’s supposed to track how many calories you burn. You can then adjust how many calories you want to take in each day; they say you set a goal and try to hit it.
Good in theory, whether you’re trying to maintain, lose, or gain weight (genius from a marketing standpoint, I mean any kind of weight-related gadget in America is certain to be gobbled up). I remember the BodyBug came out a few years back with the same sort of gist.
Now, running burns a ton of calories, and depending on how much you train you could easily expend upwards of 1,000 calories after a single run. But it’s kind of a catch here because depending on the person (and the level that they run at, for lack of a better way to phrase it) they come at the whole running and calorie burn rate vs. intake and diet issues two different ways.
Bear with me; you take a gangly high schooler running cross country, new to the sport, maybe putting in 20 miles a week but with their metabolism can’t seem to keep the weight on. If it’s the first time they are getting really active they may not even have a clear idea that while they THINK they’re eating a ton they need to find ways to get in more calories…think liquid calories, like chocolate milk or sports drinks post-run, and eating more calorie dense foods.
Another case would be the obvious dieter; they see running as their best bet to burn calories, but in their mind it’s a little skewed. They run three miles and, if they aren’t really informed, they envision that they burned 1,000 calories and go to town on the Oreos. Here’s a case where using the excuse ‘I worked out today so can indulge’ took on unrealistic proportions.
Case three is the runner who’s logging 70 miles a week and in training. Now, each day they do run different workouts and mileage totals; the question becomes, do you try and finagle and adjust how many calories you eat depending on what you ran that day? (ie: less on an easy 7-miler, a little more on a day with 9 miles and a tempo in there, more on the 16 mile long run) OR, is that just over-thinking the matter and the athlete should just eat about the same every day and let the law of averages take over?
Last one; we have the person running 50 miles a week, still new to the sport and sets a goal to run a half-marathon. The catch is that this person used to be on the whole diet bandwagon and retains a bit of the mentality that they have to ‘be careful’ and watch what they eat. Their training volume goes up but they still ‘think’ of themselves as the out of shape dieter. Workouts start to feel tougher and they are struggling along…they need a clear visual that tells them they are not eating enough and that’s why they feel sluggish. Here is a case where I could see these calorie trackers coming in handy, more-so as a wake-up call.
In the end, it makes me wonder if all of this calorie knowledge is a good thing or just overcomplicating it.
* Pro: We’re a nation struggling with obesity, so obviously I’d say the majority does need to get a better grasp on how much they need to be taking in depending on their output.
* Con: I’ve done a lot of those supposed calorie trackers online and the number of calories they say I need to eat to just maintain are ridiculously low. They make me feel like a fatty. I’m sure they may be closer for other people, but just saying…
* Pro: Adequate knowledge is a good thing; if you’re training you should be smart about proper fueling habits and I could see the NikeFuel helping with that.
* Con: Obsessedo…I don’t need to go into too much detail and I’m sure we can all see that getting too wrapped up in the numbers can lead to too much knowledge becoming a bad thing.
So I toss it to you guys, what do you think about the NikeFuel and related calorie trackers? How scientific do we need to get with this all?
1) Do you do any calorie tracking things online or elsewhere? Are they ever even close to what you think you actually do/should be eating depending on your activity level?
2) Of all the cases above and in life, who do you think would benefit the most from these tools? The least?
3) Would you use the Nike Fuel or something similar?
4) How do you try and balance input/output…do you just flipping eat? 😉