How to be up to scratch this year with apps and gadgets?
My obstacle course
I was always a little overweight until 2012. My maximum weight was around 95 kilos for 1.84 m – and no, the reason for this overweight was not my big muscles, but the presence of excess fat in my body. It may still be a bit far from morbid obsolescence, but I did not feel well, whether it was the swimming pool or climbing a few stairs.
I have since lost weight. I feel much lighter with my 80 kilos, and above all: I feel fit. I ran the Berlin Half Marathon last year without any additional training. I can also do a dozen pull-ups depending on my training level and – much more important – I feel great about myself.
Based on my own experience, I would like to give you a rough idea of how you can set and achieve your fitness goals – and how all the technical gadgets will help you achieve them. There are hundreds of books on each subject, here I can only show you an overview – and always from a tech point of view.
Evolution is our worst enemy
You must have heard about it: evolution is responsible for the fact that we cannot lie on the sofa all day long, twiddling our thumbs, because the body is a machine that has perfected over time. Aside from the threat of tigers and their sharp teeth, the food shortage has always been the greatest fear that humans have faced for thousands of years.
Therefore, any excess energy is carefully stored as fat for times of crisis. Each person, because of their genetic heritage, has different provisions as to the amount and location where body fat is stored. Your ancestors had to fight to survive! But today it is bad, because your body is more inclined to accumulate the curves.
Residents of the island state of Nauru, for example, had to endure famines for centuries – genes that are particularly effective in energy management have therefore endured. The westernization of the diet as well as the ephemeral wealth linked to guano have therefore favored Nauru the development of the highest diabetes rate in the world, at 33%.
Your body weight: intake and consumption
Whatever your genetic code, the basic idea of losing and gaining weight is simple: if you eat more than you burn, you will gain weight – and vice versa. Indeed, there are countless trends such as "no carbohydrates after 6 pm", fasting at intervals, low carbohydrate and high fat diets. Some are even quite crazy like that of Gwyneth Paltrow. Others are simply useless, while other proposals push your metabolism in a different direction in the long term or help you acquire generally healthier eating habits.
In my experience, leverage is much more important if you consider your body as a closed physical system. From this moment, the principle of exit applies. The very first step is to be aware of your calorie intake and consumption.
Input: counting calories is really painful
Yes, recording all meals and drinks is as exciting as sorting screws, but it is extremely useful. In addition, there are many applications that simplify the task. For example, instead of entering the calories in your sandwich, you can simply scan the barcode on the packaging with FatSecret and have your lunch noted. And, if you diligently continue this nutritional monitoring for a few weeks, you will be satisfied and proud to take stock of your nutrition. At the same time, you will learn to listen to your body.
In addition to providing pure energy in kilocalories, most applications also record the macronutrients that make up the energy supplied. Macronutrients are fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Bad news for alcohol drinkers: alcohol is also a macronutrient and contains a lot of calories. Two glasses of absinthe correspond roughly to a glass of olive oil. Yum !
4 kcal / g
4 kcal / g
9 kcal / g
7 kcal / g
Whether it's a low-carb or high-carb diet, there are countless ideas as to how the energy supplied should ideally be made up of macronutrients. Although the macronutrient composition has no or little influence on weight gain or loss, it still plays an important role for the body. For example, I feel constantly tired from low-carb diets because my body needs the energy it generates for carbohydrates. By eating the wrong nutrients at the wrong time, you simply tend to eat poorly.
I have always followed the program with a macronutrient ratio between 60:20:20 and 80:10:10. In each case, my diet consisted of carbohydrates, proteins and fats as sources of energy. If you follow the same diet for a while, you can see the breakdown of macronutrients in the apps and learn for yourself what works best for you.
Apps for calorie counting: 2 examples
A clear application with a large database. Not only does it scan bar codes, it also searches for photos of food and adds them to your daily schedule. Unfortunately, without a subscription nothing works. People who subscribe to a Premium membership (from 3.48 euros per month) will also find detailed nutritional plans in the application and will be able to set long-term goals.
The food database is one of the most comprehensive databases on food, nutrients, etc. – and with the FDDB Extender, it is delivered as an application on your smartphone. The range of functions is very similar to that of FatSecret – and you need an account here too. Some additional functions such as targets for macronutrients cost 1.67 euros per month. Optionally, the app can also be connected to Google Fit, Samsung Health, Fitbit or Garmin Connect.
Besides the macronutrients, there are still many things to consider when it comes to food. "Fast carbohydrates" are, for example, generally less good than "slow carbohydrates" (glycemic index). There are also good and bad fats (saturated / unsaturated) just as there are huge differences in protein (valence). Oatmeal (slow carbohydrates), for example, calms you much longer than white toast (fast carbohydrates), which allows you to eat less. There is a lot of information on this subject, and I am sure you will quickly find what you need, either on forums or at your bookstore.
Consumption: How much energy do you burn?
To calculate your energy consumption, there are simple rules and calculation methods. This metabolic rate calculates the amount of energy you use in everyday life when you oxidize – without running long distances or being at MWC and taking 20,000 steps per day.
In order to calculate as precisely as possible any activity on the base metabolic rate, the various fitness workshops provide valuable assistance. A smartwatch with a heart rate sensor, for example, can use your heart rate to fairly accurately estimate the amount of energy actually burned while standing at the gym entrance without motivation. All daily activities plus the basal metabolic rate ultimately meet your body's caloric needs.
Fitness trackers: 2 examples
Price / link
Honor Band 5
The Honor Band 5 is clearly a good deal. For only 34 euros, it records sleep, heart rate or even oxygen saturation in the blood. In one week, the battery life is excellent. As a smartphone app, Huawei Health makes a good impression – here you will find perfectly prepared data and even some successful training plans.
A large color screen, an integrated GPS and the possibility of connecting cadence sensors for the bike, heart rate belts for the chest and many other gadgets on the watch: the Garmin Venu (and most of the current Garmin watches) is really ideal for ambitious athletes. The application is well done and there are complete programs.
Sport versus intake and consumption
If you now know the intake and consumption, you should be able to accurately predict any weight gain or loss. Record your weight for a few weeks – either with analog scales or with scales connected with a smartphone app. If there are inconsistencies, you will need to adjust your base metabolic rate, which is calculated according to a basic rule. Otherwise you can also stop nibbling, deliberately forgetting to scan the calories!
If you are now gaining or losing weight, there is also another variable: how intensely do you do your sports – and how does your body react to stress? For example, if you have a significant calorie deficit and you do not exercise at all, your metabolism will react in order to prevent a potential famine. All the necessary nutritional intake will then be eliminated, which will add energy and then burn your muscle mass. Yes, muscles need a lot of energy and, if they are not used, are considered by your body to be superfluous. The body prefers rather to create energy reserves in the form of fat.
If after a diet without sports you resume your bad habits, you will have a lower base metabolic rate than before. Keep in mind that your body has been stripped of many muscles. With your usual energy intake and still without exercise, you will quickly gain weight – and especially fat, because your body is by nature preparing for a lack of food. This harmful oscillation of weight is known as the yoyo effect.
If, on the other hand, you exercise a lot when you are lacking in calories, your body will consider your muscles as important for survival – and will tend to use more fat reserves for energy supply. Likewise, if you are overweight and exercise, you will build more muscle than fat. Generally, many athletes therefore alternate between the so-called "bulk" and "cut" phases, during which the excess muscles are first formed, then the fat added during this process is further entrained so that the calories are eliminated.
Body fat scales: 2 examples
Price / link
Withings Body +
The Withings Body + connects to the home WiFi network. To record your body fat, muscle mass, bone mask, water content, etc. values, just stand on the scale – the rest is done automatically. Then you will find the prepared data in the application. Most personal scales offer a range of similar functions.
More sophisticated body fat monitors such as the Tanita BC-545F also offer the ability to measure the composition of upper body tissue. This provides more precise information on the percentage of real body fat, muscle mass, etc.
About $ 250
What do you want ? What is fun?
The important thing for you now is to find one or at best several sports which make your organism work regularly and completely. All activities such as swimming, jogging or cycling are excellent for your cardiovascular system and have a positive effect on your blood pressure. In addition, these sports help eliminate a lot of calories and therefore improve your calorie balance.
For bodybuilding, on the other hand, you can train at home or at the gym. Take care to put a balanced load on your body – especially do not neglect your back. And please, please me: if you start exercising after a long period of stopping, ask someone to watch your postures, at least a few times, to make sure the exercises are done correctly. This can be done by a coach in the gym or by friends who are passionate about sports. Poor postures can lead to injury.
Training apps: 2 examples
Freeletics is probably THE solution for solo physical training. Here, you get countless training programs and sessions, which explain each exercise with beautiful videos. But Freeletics' greatest asset is the community that meets in many places across the globe to train together. Those who pay have access to the full training program – and an online coach at their side.
Adidas training by Runtastic
Formerly known as Runtastic Results, Adidas training aims to keep you fit for twelve weeks. The perfectly structured calendar helps you keep pace with training and hopefully not give up on your good intentions after just one week. As with Freeletics, there is also a paid version which activates additional functions for around 10 euros per month.
Whatever you do, the most important aspect of sport is finding the right activity and pace for you. Something you will want to do regularly. It usually takes one to two months to assimilate a new routine. You just have to be patient and it will happen on its own.
Now it's your turn!
If you held on to the end of this article, one thing should be clear: you don't need apps or gadgets to lose weight. However, they facilitate the resumption of a healthier lifestyle solo. And although one can criticize the whole movement of "Quantified Self", the possibility of following my evolution over the months or years has been one of the keys to achieving a healthier lifestyle. And even if analog training programs are stacked in my living room, the applications remain easier and simple to use.
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