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WEIGHT LOSS: WHY IT'S HARD / GEAR

Calorie counters that may move you

June 02, 2008|Roy M. Wallack

If you knew how many calories you ingest and burn, you could gain better control over your weight. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. showed that even a simple step counter or pedometer triggers the average user to increase movement by 2,100 steps per day. The devices below can bring a new level of convenience and accuracy to calorie counting.

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Body Bugg: An armband sensor records your activity level for analysis on your computer; a wristwatch provides real-time readout.

Computer-savvy armband

Likes: It's tremendously motivating to see how your body is actually functioning. Once you've set up an Internet account, you can load data in seconds from the armband to your PC, providing a 24-hour graph of your activity. After you spend several minutes inputting the foods eaten during the day, you get a readout of calories burned and consumed.

Dislikes: Not Macintosh-compatible or waterproof. Also, logging on to the website is inconvenient. Why not provide the program on CD?

Price: $349.90. (800) 656-2739; bodybugg.com

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Food info at your fingertips

CalorieSmart calorie counter: A simple 4-by-5-inch computer with a small screen and BlackBerry-like keyboard that provides access to a database of 35,000 food items, including restaurant menus.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, June 04, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 42 words Type of Material: Correction
Calorie counter: A calorie-counter product in the Gear column in Monday's Health section was labeled the Timex Ironman Triathlon. That name belongs to a line of products. The full name of the product featured is the Timex Ironman Triathlon Sleek Fitness Tracker.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday, June 09, 2008 Home Edition Health Part F Page 7 Features Desk 1 inches; 41 words Type of Material: Correction
Calorie counter: A calorie counter product in the June 2 Gear column was labeled the Timex Ironman Triathlon. That name belongs to a line of products. The full name of the featured product is the Timex Ironman Triathlon Sleek Fitness Tracker.

Likes: The compact size and fast access to dietary numbers aid decision-making. Example: A piece of chicken or a taco? Spell out "El Pollo Loco" on the keyboard, then compare "Chicken breast with skin" (187 cal, fat 7g, sodium 540 mg, carb 0g, fiber 0g, prot 30g, sodium 540 mg pops up on the screen) to "Chicken soft taco" (237 cal, fat 11g, sodium 526 mg, carb 18g, fiber 1g, prot 17g). You can add a file of new foods, favorite foods and recipes, plus track your exercise history. You can also input your goal; mine was to lose 10 pounds in the next six months, and the on-screen message told me how much I had to lose each week. Computer downloadable, with USB cable and CD included.

Dislikes: None.

Price: $79. (877) 750-2300; www.coheso.com.

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Wristwatch crunches numbers

Timex Ironman Triathlon: Waist-clip sensor pod sends data to a wristwatch monitor that displays time of day, steps, speed, distance and calories burned.

Likes: It's much easier to read this information on the watch face than on the belt clip, as with other pedometers. Attractive watch is loaded with features; it stores 50 laps, records up to 99,999 steps, can store and date multiple workouts, and has a night light.

Dislikes: None.

Price: $90. (800) 448-4639; www.timex.com.

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A stowaway motion detector

New Balance VIA Motion activity monitor: Pedometer-like device that measures steps, distance and calories burned even when thrown into a pocket or purse.

Likes: Inconspicuous. Works in your wallet or backpack. Comes with a thin 20-inch strap that makes it easy to find. Seven-day history function can track your data for a week. Includes a clip for use on your belt like a normal pedometer.

Dislikes: None.

Price: $49.99. (888) 295-4949; www.highgear.com.

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- Roy M. Wallack

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Irvine-based endurance cyclist and runner Roy M. Wallack is the coauthor of "Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100." Reach him at roywallack@aol.com.

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