Product Review: Adidas miCoach SMART RUN Watch

The  miCoach SMART RUN is Adidas’s first attempt at entering the fitness watch market. In the last few years offerings such as the Nike Fuelband, Jawbone UP and various pieces from Garmin, Polar and TomTom have helped fuel a huge increase in demand and interest in exercise enhancing devices and products.

Personally I have never used any exercise gadgets so trialing this watch was a new experience for me and I had little to compare it to. However, many of my clients use these types of watches and they clearly helps people get motivated to move more, run more or simply hit the target number that they’ve been given, whether that’s steps, calories or miles. Ultimately, if anything helps get you in the fitness groove then that’s a positive.

Appearance and functionality

adidas micoach watchThe miCoach looks pretty slick with a 1.45 inch touchscreen and weighs in at a fairly bulky 80.5g. However, it’s doesn’t get in the way of anything and it feels like it could survive a knock or two. I’ve had problems in the past with watches slipping or being uncomfortable but it has a double buckle system that gives it a secure, stable feel on the wrist when running, moving or for daily use.

The interface is a simple touchscreen and a single button underneath. This gives it a fresh minimalist look and moving around the options and screens is quick and effortless with swipes and taps.

The battery life is not as long as some other watches and that can cause issues if you’re using a lot of features or doing a long run. Think of it like your phone – if you use it regularly expect to charge it daily.

Features and performance

The initial procedure to set up the watch is somewhat long-winded but once this hurdle is cleared there are numerous neat features that make the process worth it, and start to justify the price tag.

Uniquely, the watch can take your pulse from your wrist without the need for a chest strap using a laser in the back. Clever, huh? I wasn’t aware this was possible and the ability to monitor heart rate easily and without the need for a strap appealed to me. The colour coded metrics also made it easy to monitor at a glance.

The GPS sometimes took a minute or two to pick up which left me feeling a little impatient at first, but if you set it up once you start warming up this can be avoided. Once running, I took a route that I knew well and the distance was very accurate. Being a stickler for detail this was reassuring. I mostly run short distances up to 5k at max pace, so if it’s a few hundred metres out I don’t want to know.

adidas micoach interface

The various watch swipe and tap interfaces

The Bluetooth connection, once set up, is pretty sweet with feedback given on your run stats, pace, distance and plays music held on the 3GB worth of memory space.

As well as your watch talking to you while you run, you can also set up workouts on the watch which prompt you to do exercises and circuits. As a trainer and someone who is self-motivated, this feature is not really useful or motivating for me but these may be great features for some.

Summary

For 14,990 THB I expect a lot. The numerous features may make that worth it – GPS, music player and heart rate monitor being the big 3 for me. If the other features get you excited, you can charge it regularly and you like the futuristic look and feel, this could be the one for you.

From what I’ve seen of the other fitness watches and wristbands available I think some of watches from the more experienced players like Garmin and Nike would suit me more, or maybe something more minimalist like the Jawbone UP or Vivofit – so being the fussy little thing that I am, I’ll trial a few more and find the one that suits me best.

The Adidas miCoach watch and ranges from Garmin, Nike and Jawbone are all available at Ari Running Concept Store at CentralWorld in Bangkok.

Specs
Price: 14,990
Weight: 80.5g
Screen: 184×184 pixels,
Battery life: ’14 days’ of no feature usage. 1 day of full usage
Charger: USB docking station


BASE is proud to have partnered with adidas. We provide accessories and exclusive adidas x BASE apparel.

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4 Weeks of Veganism

No-Meat-SignMy latest food experiment was without a doubt my most challenging. In solidarity with a vegan client and friend of mine, Anthony of ManVsClock, I decided to try veganism for 4 weeks.

My entering into this experiment followed weeks of debate with Anthony on the ethical and health implications of such a diet. I figured the best way to have a valid opinion about it would be to try it out myself.

His love of animals had made it hard for him to justify the consumption of animal products but he was unsure of the impact that a vegan diet would have on his health and body composition.

Like most aspects of nutrition, there is not much conclusive evidence and a lot of contradictory research, articles and propaganda on both sides of the debate.

To make things more complicated and confusing, discussing the consumption of animal products is often as highly charged and emotional as talking about politics or religion. This can often cloud judgement when looking at the nutritional and health aspects of abstaining from meat, fish and dairy.

The 4 week experiment

Some of the off-limit foods for the month

Some of the off-limit foods for the month

A clarification of the 4-week vegan experiment rules: for 28 days I would consume no food that contained meat, dairy, eggs or any of their derivatives. This is in stark contrast to my current diet which I would largely describe as ‘paleo‘ – meat, vegetables, eggs, fruit, nuts, seeds and no grains, processed food, additives or sugar.

To suddenly make such a big dietary change was always going to be tough and a difficult adjustment but I welcomed the challenge and another chance to learn something about myself.

Vegan Vs Paleo

The first thing I’d like to consider are the similarities between paleo and vegan, two approaches that on the surface look at the opposite ends of the nutritional spectrum. Firstly, both sides make up a large part of their diet from fruit and vegetables. Nuts also play a part – a few scoops of almond butter would equally appeal to both camps.

Also, people who champion both approaches are generally more health conscious than your average person. Many search for organic produce where possible and limit processed food.

However, people often associate veganism or vegetarianism with automatically being healthy. This is far from the case – it’s very possible to be obese on these diets and a lot of veggie or vegan packaged foods are no better for you than other kinds of processed junk.

Now onto the big difference – vegetarians consume no meat and vegans abstain from any product, food or otherwise, derived from animals. People following the paleo diet will consume animal products freely and often in abundance.

The average diet in the west is, to be frank, garbage. A reliance on processed and fast ‘food’ and a lack of real, nutrient rich food has left a lot of people big and sick. Compared to this, a healthy vegan diet or strict paleo will often leave you feeling great and improve all your health markers. Therefore, many people champion both approaches as they’ve had good results from them.

However, simply cutting out the junk could be the reason for the improvement that these people experience. What I’m more interested in is what is the healthiest approach long term.

Foods that both the paleo and vegan communities would embrace

Foods that both the paleo and vegan communities would embrace

Onto my month of meat eating abstinence. My biggest take home was that veganism is damn hard! Every time I looked at a food product I found myself mentally breaking it down to try and work out if I could eat it. Most of the time, I couldn’t. Rather than perusing a menu for tasty things to eat, I would just desperately look for something I could eat. Usually, it would be something like a salad, but only if they left out the cheese.

Put another way, it pretty much took all the fun out of eating out. Cooking at home was smoother and more enjoyable as it’s easy to control the process and the ingredients.

Social situations

Socially it can be difficult and awkward. People often give you a look when you tell them you’re vegan and I sometimes found myself explaining to people that it was just an experiment. People often unfairly associate veganism with being a tree hugging Greenpeace activist and I was keen to distance myself from this. I freely admit that it’s pretty pathetic of me to feel I had to do explain myself in this way, but this is how I felt.

Other social situations can be difficult – for example, when grandma bakes me some fresh chocolate chip cookies or a friend makes a meal with meats or eggs. Sadly, as a vegan in these situations you’ll often be met with bemusement, annoyance or even ridicule.

Social situations and convenience aside, how did a vegan diet make me feel physically?

Despite ensuring I ate as healthily as possible, overall I suffered from a lack of energy which was reflected in my poor training sessions and a general feeling of lethargy. It also appeared to affect my mood and I found myself feeling a bit down generally, which isn’t like me. As I always say with these experiments, other factors could have caused these things, but I didn’t feel light and ‘alive and kicking’ like some vegans I spoke to said I would.

However, there were some results that were not anecdotal. In wanting to keep this experiment as scientific as possible, I also recorded my intake of food and my weight at regular intervals. Despite consuming as many calories as normal, I dropped 3.1kg to finish my vegan month at 77.4kg. This is probably my lowest weight since I was about 16 years old. From a weight loss perspective that might sound great, but based on how I looked I am sure that along with losing some fat, a large portion of that 3.1kg drop was muscle. Without sophisticated tools I cannot know for sure.

People commented that I looked ‘thin’ and ‘gaunt’, which is not a look I’m striving for. Coupled with low energy levels, this is concerning and I’m not sure where I would be after, say, 6 months of veganism. I weight train and am active and should not be dropping weight that quickly with my frame and body type.

What caused this? I believe low protein consumption could have played a part. I took some additional vegan protein supplementation occasionally, but I am open to the suggestion that I could have done more to up my protein levels. However, I don’t believe in relying on supplements and feel that a diet which naturally promotes higher protein and fat and lower carbs is right for me.

A vegan diet naturally promotes a macro-nutrient profile of high carb, low fat and low protein that is simply wrong for many people. Add nutrient shortcomings such as omega-3s, zinc, vitamin D, dietary cholesterol and vitamin B12 (the granddaddy of vegan nutrient deficiencies), and you have a way of eating that could be a disaster for some people. These are some of the nutrients that are difficult to find outside of animal products, and supplements often don’t cut it as they often aren’t absorbed by the body as effectively.

It takes a big effort to make up for those fore-mentioned shortcomings, and it’s misguided to think that just cutting out animal products will lead you on a path to great health.

If you’re considering going vegan, check out this post written by a vegan Registered Dietician on ways to help make up for nutritional shortfalls on a vegan diet.

I respect that many people will be vegan for ethical reasons and in that case I’d say make sure you research what nutrients you may be lacking and adjust your diet and supplementation accordingly. Listen to your body and consider how you stand ethically on all parts of a vegan diet – is factory farmed meat the same as pasture raised grass-fed beef? Is a factory farm egg the same as a free range organic egg? Is wild caught fish the same as farmed? If you may be lacking something nutritionally consider a compromise somewhere so your health doesn’t suffer.

Some women who are vegan compromise when they are pregnant so as not to be nutritionally deficient when ‘feeding for two’. Natalie Portman is one such case. I have a huge amount of respect for this approach of compromise when it’s needed. Sadly, some in the vegan community slated Natalie for her decision that she made in the best interests of her unborn child.

Summary

This 4 week vegan experiment was hugely valuable in terms of what I experienced and the research that it has prompted me to do. I read a lot of articles and spoke to a lot of people about the pros and cons of being a vegan. After the 4 weeks, I can confidently say that a vegan diet is not right for me in achieving optimal health and performance and I will resort back to my previous dietary approach.

I have tried to stay away as much as possible from the ethical side of the debate, but the rights and wrongs of meat consumption are highly charged for a lot of people. I personally think that factory farmed meat and many practices in the meat industry are wrong. Also, and importantly, poorly farmed and processed meat has a huge effect on the nutritional profile of the meat. Animals pumped full of hormones and kept in horrendous conditions do not make for healthy, nutritious food. Quite the opposite.

For these health and ethical reasons, I will continue to source the best quality meat I can.

Further reading for a second opinion

I think this article from Authority Nutrition gives a strong analysis of the downside of a vegan diet.

I was offered this article from Zen Habits as strong analysis of the virtues of a vegan diet.

Please let me know of any other well written and researched articles free from excessive emotion and propaganda on the subject and I’ll be happy to link them.

If you’d like to know exactly what I ate in the month, you can view my MyFitnessPal food diary in full here.

What next?

In the last year I’ve experimented with my intake of meat, dairy, alcohol and grains. I’ve also played around with juice fasting, intermittent fasting and meal timing.

If anyone has any ideas for any more experiments or articles please comment below. Also, if you have any comments regarding my ideas and conclusions about veganism or any other topic please let me know about it!


More information on our approach to our nutrition at BASE.

You Are What You Read

My approach to nutrition is one of experimentation and understanding your uniqueness.

However, this process is often made much tougher by the one thing that’s supposed to help you: scientific research.

Now I’m not knocking science – if it wasn’t for research then most of us would be dead from a cut leg or childbirth. However, most of the nutritional research that is out there now should be taken with a pinch of pink Himalayan crystal salt.

I’m often asked for advice from people who are beyond confused. Every day they are bombarded with conflicting articles on what we should or shouldn’t do. One day carbs are evil, the next they’re fine if eaten before a certain time; first saturated fats slowly kill you, then they’re a-OK.

Each claim and counter claim is backed up by ‘studies’ and ‘scientific research’ from academic sounding bodies.

End result: your average Joe or Jenny is left clueless and frustrated.

Either the human body is dramatically changing week by week or something is up here.

In this article I’m going to dissect the issue and tell you what to consider and look our for when consuming information or taking dietary advice, starting with:

Journalists and writers
Specifically, journalists and their editors who want a juicy story or writers who are looking to push their point. Sensational headlines designed to attract your attention are often proved utterly misleading when you fully read the article. If you have the time and inclination to delve deeper and check the research or sources – and I believe less than 1% of the population are as sad as me in actually doing this – it will often reveal a very different story to the well-written and persuasive article.

Research can easily be cherry picked to make something sound like 100% fact when in fact there were many studies showing the opposite. Beware of lines such as ‘current research suggests’, or ‘food x has been linked to disease y’. Anything can be linked to anything and nothing evokes emotion and panic like life threatening diseases. My grandma could be linked to al-Qaeda if it would make a good news story, so be aware of this when reading news and blogs. Ask yourself, what’s the other side to this?

"EATING BROCCOLI AFTER 3PM HAS BEEN LINKED TO SUDDEN DEATH SYNDROME"

“EATING BROCCOLI AFTER 3PM HAS BEEN LINKED TO SUDDEN DEATH SYNDROME”

Research with ulterior motive
Who spends millions of dollars on research? I don’t and you certainly don’t, but companies with billions riding on it do. If Coca-Cola sponsors some research on the effects of sugar, or if Kellogg’s funds a study on breakfast eating it doesn’t take someone with a PhD in nutritional science to tell you how the results might turn out. Couple this with some well placed news articles on the results and you can start to seriously shape public opinion to the point where it becomes unquestioned conventional wisdom.

Over the last few decades this has happened time and again and some long held beliefs based on shaky and incomplete research, such as the focus on reducing fat levels rather than sugar from the 70s onwards, have clearly had a huge impact on the West’s health.

Poorly conducted research
Controlled studies involve anything from a small handful of people to thousands. Some have compliance issues with participants, and some use poor methodology. When you couple weak research methods with a misinterpretation of the results, you’d be better off getting your nutritional advice from a monkey with a typewriter.

This study by the Massachusetts Medical Society (sounds important, huh!) has been quoted time and again in articles ‘proving’ that ultimately low-carb diets are no more effective than low-fat in losing weight, yet if you sift through it you’ll see it is flawed and offers little true evidence.

Trust me, I'm wearing a white coat

Trust me, I’m wearing a white coat

Firstly, the 63 participants would be considered a small study and you couldn’t be sure if differences in the two groups were down to chance. Secondly, by the study’s own admission “adherence was poor and attrition was high in both groups”, so it’s no surprise that over time the results evened out, as few probably maintained their eating plans. This also raises questions about how controlled and monitored the process was. Finally, the study states that “the low-carbohydrate diet was associated with a greater improvement in some risk factors for coronary heart disease” and finishes with “longer and larger studies are required to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diets.” Yet, many low-carb opponents (such as vegetarians who oppose low-carb as it often goes hand in hand with meat eating) use this study as ‘proof’. Unsuspecting readers will often take it as such.

All this proves to me is that if you don’t stick to healthy eating habits, you won’t have good health or weight maintenance – not much of a revelation.

In this example there’s nothing wrong with the study, they are honest about the results and their meaning – it’s the writer’s misinterpretation of the results to support their argument that is the issue.

Causal vs correlative
To me, this is the granddaddy of misleading information.

Correlative means that when A happens B also happens.
Causal mean that A causes B to happen.

Understanding the difference between these two is absolutely crucial in your quest for the truth as the lines are often blurred.

A correlative link is easy to show and prove and can often involve studies involving hundreds of thousands of people (so it must be true!), causal links are much harder to prove and involve very controlled tests and environments.

A classic example is breakfast. We’ve been told for decades that skipping breakfast means you’re far more likely to be obese, and that you MUST not skip breakfast as it’s linked to disease and death. However, what’s now becoming clear is that the kind of people that rush out the door without eating breakfast generally eat worse overall, do less exercise, sleep less and smoke and drink more. So is it the missing breakfast that has caused problems, or one of the many other factors? The huge success some people have had with intermittent fasting has led me to believe that breakfast, whilst not bad or wrong, is nowhere near as important as has been made out.

You’ve also probably heard that breakfast is essential to ‘kick start your metabolism’. there is no credible evidence or research to support this (if you know of any please let me know), so I wonder where that came from?

The importance of breakfast is so firmly and resolutely believed that a mere mention that eating breakfast may not be so important after all will often have you labelled as a dangerous extremist.

I’d like to offer another example of causal vs correlative: people with platinum American Express credit cards live longer and have better health than people without bank accounts. So should we improve the lives of the underprivileged by handing out platinum credit cards in slums, ghettoes and council estates around the world? No, we should aim to improve the health care, nutrition and living standards of those people as those are the real factors at play here.

The solution
Apply some healthy skepticism when you open the paper and read a shocking headline or a trending “news” article pops up in your Facebook feed that suggests a radical overhaul of your eating habits.

If you’re considering making a change to your diet do a bit of homework with the above points in mind to help you make a more informed decision. Not all research is flawed or funded by monstrous corporations. Not all articles are written with a hidden agenda, but watch out for emotional language, bias or sensationalism and find some sources that you believe to be reliable and trusted. This requires a bit of work and time but is worth it.

Remember that not all advice and guidance is right for you, however strongly it may be worded. In fact, the more definitive and emotional the advice sounds the more you should be cautious. You may hear that eating carbs after 6pm is bad and causes you to store fat, but if you find that eating no carbs before 6pm has helped you lose fat, feel great and all your health markers have gone up then it’s safe to say that you can ignore that piece of advice. Likewise, if you wake up in the morning and you really don’t feel like eating and you make a healthy, reasonable eating choice mid-morning or lunchtime then go ahead and do it.

Summary
There are some informative nutritional resources out there and some solid research has been done. Weeding out these reliable sources and ultimately doing research and studies on yourself will leave you with the knowledge-base to make sound, informed and progressive choices for your health.

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