Nike FuelBand – New Calorie Counting Gadget on Track for Competitive Runners?

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.

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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.
fat runner
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.
group of runners
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? ;)

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17 thoughts on “Nike FuelBand – New Calorie Counting Gadget on Track for Competitive Runners?

  1. i’m a con supporter for these types of things relating to my life. for me it could turn into a trap and i could become crazed and fall back into some patterns that i had as a youngin. scary stuff that i don’t want to relive again so i stay away from things with numbers like scales and counters. but thats just me…

    • that’s my final stance, i’d say it’s way too easy for the competitive minded folks to let it get out of control…and isn’t that what most athletes are?? lol

  2. ooh this is a difficult one….you hit the nail on the head with the pros & cons and who it could work for! I’ve done the online calorie tracker thing – my dietician recommended a particular site that she says is pretty accurate…I trust her judgement, and it has me burning more calories than I thought I did just crosstraining….but I’m guessing the fuelband is a bit more accurate, since I’m assume its not just another database that you enter your stats into?

    I think honestly I’d be curious to use it as I ramp up my training. I’ve been on the XT bandwagon for a long time, and before I got injured, I definitely wasn’t fueling right. So It’d be really beneficial for me to see how much I really do need when running at full volume. But on the other hand, I do have that ED background so….I probably wouldn’t get it, since my intent would be to only use it for a short period of time to get familiar with my needs – I definitely wouldn’t want to fall into that obsessive trap.

    I also sometimes read Lauren Fleshman’s Q&A, and she had one about weight management for runners…to which she replied “There are going to be times when you’re gonna need to lose a few, and times when you’re gonna need to gain a few. And the goal is to do that with the least amount of thinking/stressing possible”. So if the FitBand = less thinking, great! But if it = more stressing….ehh not so great.

    • i’d be careful missy, curiosity did kill the cat…jk. naw, i think it’s more on a case by case basis, and there are other ways to figure the input vs. output thing out and balance in a more relaxed approach. i think it’s just so different for everyone

  3. I’m on the fence about these types of things. The way our country is today, there are probably more people that could use it to improve their health than be put in a worse position. It seems like it’s not really marketed that way as much as say the bodybugg was and this looks like it would appeal more to athletes, which could be good or bad! I think it just comes down to people knowing more. A few years ago, I certainly wouldn’t have understand the whole calorie thing and maybe I wish I never did, but since I was introduced to it I’d rather understand it completely than just think I need to eat as little as possible and burn as much as possible.

  4. I think that most of you are thinking of this as a negative thing – ED, and are not looking at the other, beneficial, side of it.

    I see it as a “what fuels you” way to look at it. Meaning, that it doesn’t matter what type of activity you do, as long as you keep being active, and the armband will put those activities into a 1 unit counter. To me, this band is not about what I am eating and how I need to “refuel” after a workout, but rather setting goals, and achieving them. I don’t have the band, but here’s an example: if on an active day, I reach 6500 a day, and on a less active day 5500 on the Fuel band. Then, I would want to set goals to reach an extra few hundred, or use those as my minimum daily # to reach. This band is motivating and challenging everyone to live active lifestyles, set “fuel” goals, and achieve them. I have a general understanding and somewhat monitor my calorie intake, but to me, my physical activity is what is important.

    By being able to add all of your physical activities into 1 unit, you are making it easier for anyone to put on the wristband and do whatever it takes to get the numbers up. This could mean doing an extra lap in the pool, or an extra 5 minutes on the treadmill, more chores, taking the stairs. It also enables people who are not normally that active, to be competitive with themselves, and friends, without having to run a marathon.

    To me, this wristband is just encouraging everyone to keep moving, in any way they can, and enjoy it. Be competitive- with both yourself and your friends.

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