Fitbit and the Myth of 10,000 Steps

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The Japanese Manpo-Meter Step Counter

Who doesn’t recall the obese prison guard on Orange is the New Black several seasons ago monotonously stepping in place because, “10,000 steps a day will cause weight loss.”

Well, that’s not rocket science. Sure, calories burned vs calories consumed will result in weight loss. But although Fitbit has capitalized on that and put 10,000 out as a magic number, it is still just an arbitrary number. There’s no there, there. On their site they say, ” When you join Fitbit, the default goal we set for each member is the magical number of 10,000 steps a day.”

Where the Fitbit Myth Started

Although 10,000 steps is just a number grabbed out of thin air, it does have a history and it didn’t start with Fitbit. Back in the 1960s, following the Tokyo Olympics, a Japanese company began selling the MANPO-METER which was basically a pedometer. They decided that 10,000 steps per day was just what the doctor ordered for better health.

Of course, there was no doctor; this was pure marketing and it worked like a charm. And after all these years, modern marketers have put lipstick on the pig and the Fitbit phenomenon has been the result. It’s hard to walk down the street and not see a handful of people checking their wrists.

The Good News; it Doesn’t Matter

Alright now that the myth-busting is over let’s get down to science. Yes, for fitness and better health we do need exercise. 10,000 steps is a worthy goal but not all steps are created equal. As a rule of thumb, it has long been bandied about that you have to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat.

But some researchers now cast doubts on that fact. Like everything else, there are just too many variables involved. Bottom line, not all steps are created equal.

To make your effort count:

  • Increase your speed when walking; this will increase your heart rate and metabolism.
  • If you are running, do intervals or some form of speedwork once a week.
  • Consider training for a race. This will motivate you and put you in the company of like-minded people.
  • Hit the hills. This will work you harder.
  • Bump up your mileage/time. To ward off hitting a plateau, increase your effort daily.
  • Change your eating habits. Eat quality food, not junk. Small snacks like nuts are good to keep your blood sugar stable.

So, Should You Invest in a Fitbit?

Absolutely! Most people need some sort of device to see where they are in their training. You aren’t limited to any one type of device.  For example, I use a Garmin. It gives me elapsed time, distance, pace, elevation, cumulative mileage on my shoes so I know when to change them, and more. As a bonus it’s nice enough to be worn as an everyday watch. It also downloads my data to the computer.

It is also quite possible to get your phone to do all this but cell phones don’t always get along with sweat and rain so there will be times when that is not a good option. Today there are any number of training and weight loss apps available to motivate you and keep you on track.

So go ahead and start with Fitbit’s mythical 10,000 steps as as baseline. It is as good as any other number. And remember, there is nowhere to go but up.


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Top Training and Weight Loss Apps

Myfitnesspal App Screenshot

How many times have you heard, “There’s an app for that!” It’s true; the market is flooded with them for everything from generating prime numbers to identifying flowers. The problem is that some of them are pure junk that just take up space on your phone. With that in mind, here are the top training and weight loss apps. We’ve done the research for you so you won’t have to.

MyFitnessPal

Perhaps the best thing about the MyFitnessPal app is its vast database of more than one million foods, listing counts of calories, macros, and other nutrients.Whether you are on a diet for weight loss or you are just getting the best bang for your buck to fuel your next grueling workout, this app has your back. It can also guide you in setting the applicable weight loss goals that are based on your current weight, how many pounds you are looking to lose, and your present exercise level.

Waterlogged

Hydration is one thing that we don’t always pay enough attention to. Sometimes we just don’t feel thirsty and that’s fine if you are just going to drive home after work. But if you have an afternoon workout planned instead, this can be a bad thing. Waterlogged lets you set reminders at scheduled times or at random intervals to swig more water and track of how well you are at meeting your daily drinking goals.

Talkspace

Talkspace aims its focus on the mental side of your life. Face it, you might be down because you are not meeting your goals. You may be peeved off because that cruel taskmaster of a boss is ruining your workouts by imposing seemingly random work schedules and slamming you with impromptu overtime. Whatever. You just need to vent. This app gives you access to professional counseling anywhere, 24/7.

My Asics

This app is a wonderful planning tool. It will create a training plan for a specific upcoming event. In doing this it takes into consideration your current fitness level and personal goals. And no, you don’t have to be running in Asics for this to work although it is a clever marketing move.

Happy Scale

As handy as they are, weight scales don’t really give you your “true” weight, because it does not take into consideration the state of your hormonal fluctuations or whether you are carrying more poundage due to constipation or water retention. Happy Scale strives to take these fluctuations out of your weight measurements and that makes makes for a nice, smooth curve if you are graphing it.

BioForce HRV

Have you considered your heart rate variability? This is defined as the fluctuations in the amount of time between each heartbeat. Knowing it is important because this metric is a marker of your body’s current stress levels and exercise recovery status.

Too much fluctuation indicates fatigue, and BioForce HRV uses these numbers to determine just how hard you can effectively work out. “I’ve used this for years,” Men’s Health nutrition advisor Mike Roussell, Ph.D. tells us. “It allows me to know how long and hard I should train that day based on the state of my nervous system.”

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Fooducate

Fooducate is impartial and will tell you things that that nutrition label on the box tries to hide. It boasts a database of more than 250,000 items. It works this way — you scan a food UPC label using your smartphone’s camera and it will rate the product with a letter grade with an explanation for why it is or why it is not healthy. It will also give you a list of healthier options that are related to the product you’re eyeing.

Healthy Out

It’s rough for folks watching what they eat to find healthy options when they’re out on the town. HealthyOut uses GPS to compile a list of eateries in your area, as well as recommended menu items for a healthy meal. It will also pony up some additional tips on how you can make the dish healthier, like leaving croutons off a salad.

Yummly

It takes the guesswork out of deciding what to cook. Just give it your dietary preferences (such as Paleo, low-carb, or Keto), favorite types of food, and your cooking abilities This will generate a list of recipes that will suit your food style preferences and lifestyle choices. It will also provide shopping lists from your favorite recipes. One less thing to fret over.

Give one or more of these training and weight loss apps a spin and see if it doesn’t make your life just a little bit easier.


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Low Carb Egg Noodles Pasta Recipe



Low carb egg noodles with basil
Low carb egg noodles with basil

Low Carb diets are very popular these days. The main problem is that they can be quite restrictive. People love their pasta; it seems like we are hard-wired for carbohydrates. Pasta is very high in carbohydrates so even one “cheat meal” can set a weight loss program way back. Oh, the guilt! But thanks to this low carb egg noodles pasta recipe, all is not lost.

Note that this recipe is not gluten-free but it boasts 0 carbs per serving (unless you add something else. And with just three basic ingredients it is not a very difficult dish to prepare.

Egg Noodles Pasta Ingredient List (2 smallish servings)

  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ounce cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon wheat gluten; this is optional but it creates a better texture
  • A dozen or so fresh basil leaves or spice/herb of your choice (basil adds only about 1 carb but 6% RDA of vitamin A)
  • Broth of your choice

Gluten is not the villain it is made out to be. In reality it is a protein and it is the “glue” that holds bread together, especially homemade bread. But if you are sensitive to it just leave it out of the recipe.



Preparation Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Add the cream cheese, eggs, and gluten to a  blender jar.
  3. Blend on high until smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Pour the mixture out onto a silicone mat that has been placed on top of a heavy baking pan.
  5. Smooth mixture out into a rectangle shape while keeping the mixture very thin.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F until set; about 15 minutes but your time may vary.
  7. Remove from oven and let it set and cool for a few minutes prior to cutting into strips.
  8. Next,  gently simmer in the broth for about 6 minutes minutes. The broth can be retained for soup or another use. Waste not, want not.

Low carb noodles with Pace Picante Sauce
Low carb noodles with Pace Picante Sauce

Enjoy your low carb egg noodles with the topping of your choice. I enjoy it with Panamanian style ceviche once in a while but each to his own I always say. In the photo above the noodles are slathered with Pace Picante Sauce (hot).

I suppose that makes it like a breakfast burrito minus the tortilla.

 


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Liver Detox – Fact or Fiction?


Phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification
Phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification

Liver detoxification, or liver cleanse as it is sometimes called, has become a huge industry worth billions of dollars each year. And why not? When something appeals to both the health-focused folks and hipsters, you have a winning combination. But how much of the hype is fact and how much is fiction?

Liver Detox Myths

The liver is the body’s primary filtration system and it’s job is to convert toxins into waste products as well as cleansing the blood and metabolizing nutrients and medications to make available to the body some of its most important proteins.

To get a good idea about which claims have a real basis and which are anecdotal, it pays dividends to put aside the infomercials and spam emails and look at the research.

John Hopkins Medicine has identified several myths that have been widely circulated.

  • Liver cleanses are a cure-all for daily liver health and overindulgence. Not true. They explain, “these products are not regulated by the FDA, and thus are not uniform and have not been adequately tested in clinical trials.”
  • Cleanses are effective for weight loss. Again, no clinical evidence has upheld this claim and logically, it is difficult to see any connection. For real weight loss, look to eating properly and taking up an aerobic exercise program such as running.
  • Liver detox will prevent liver disease. No, but there are proven things you can do to this end. These include avoiding drug use and unprotected sex, abstaining from alcohol in excess, and avoiding weight gain. Better still, make it a priority lo lose weight.
  • Detoxification can repair existing liver damage. This in itself is not a cure-all however there are several things that will help. Lose weight. Eat healthy. Stop or minimize alcohol consumption.
  • Obesity does not increase your risk of liver disease. False! Part of the liver’s function is to eliminate toxins but being overloaded with fat can can cause inflammation, which may lead to the development of fibrosis and cirrhosis.

Alternatives to Commercial Liver Detox Concoctions

Many commercial cleanses are nothing but expensive snake oil or combined supplements. They are not regulated by the FDA and the ingredients are not typically vetted by an independent laboratory.

There are more frugal approaches that will aid liver function. For example, vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene are powerful antioxidants. B-vitamins assist in alcohol metabolism.  There is some evidence that milk thistle, dandelion root, and schizandra help protect liver cells while ridding the body of poisons.

So is a commercial liver detox product worth the money? Each person has to become informed make that decision.


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