Jawbone Up2 review, Fat and Barbells.

July is nearly over and it doesn't really feel like it lasted long.  Anyway I got a Jawbone Up2 for my birthday and think I've had it long enough to have an opinion on it.  The Up2 is a little wrist strap thingy that records movement and syncs to an app that allows you to track your diet, sleep and excercise.  It is aimed at the health market rather than top end fitness crowd but does assume weight loss is one of your goals.

I don't really plan to follow its diet advice too closely and am taking my own advice for once and sticking to what I actually recommend people do rather than experimenting wildly with different systems.  As always happens when I take my own advice (far too rarely) it's going great.  Some details of the diet are in my last nutrition article here. 

Review

I'm nearly a month into using my fitness tracker and am pretty pleased with it so far.  I'm active enough that hitting my 10000 steps a day is pretty easy but it's useful to have your daily calories adjusted for days where your much more or much less active.  I would highly recommend them to my clients or anyone trying to get healthy just for this.

For all my love of kettlebells and recommendations to lift heavy weights and train for mobility the most important component to health and fitness is the low level activity.  It's like what drinking water is to nutrition.  

If you literally take in no fluids then the best diet in the world won't keep you from burning out and getting ill.  Low level activity is the same.  If you barely move 99% of the time but spend the other 1% doing hard excercise you will still have problems.  The jawbone keeps you aware of time spent moving around verses time spent sitting still so you have that covered.

Another good feature is the sleep tracking.  I KNOW I don't sleep enough.  Just like with the step counter, for me it doesn't really provide new information but it does keep me aware and mindful of what I need to focus on.   Its harder to justify the odd short sleep when I can see that actully sleep deprivation is a consistent pattern and I barely if ever hit my target.  I think that from a professional point of view have this information about my clients would be invaluable.  Sleep quantity and quality are amongst the most important factors in health, especially for weight loss.

A nice touch with the Up2 is it tracks how much you move around in your sleep and gives you a graph of deep sleep, light sleep and time awake.  This is the main reason I wanted one.  I can confirm that when I restrict carbs and raise fats my sleep quality improves greatly.  The nights after my carb days are much lighter sleep than those after low carb days.  I can also confirm that alcohol ruins my sleep totally even if I 'feel' I fell asleep quickly.  

The diet tracker is similar to myfitnesspal but a little prettier and fairly intuitive.  It lets you set your own targets for different nutrients and gives a 'score' based on how healthy the choices are.  One minor criticism here is that the food choices are very American and it can be quite hard to find certain things.  Another is that some of the macros are just wrong.  I know the entry's are user created and i can create my own accurate ones but I'm lazy.  I entered roast pork one day and was told it had nearly no protein and another day my hummus was apparently zero carb.  

Even with the settings set as high and low as they would go the software still pushes you towards a fairly low fat diet.  It does promote healthy fats though and separates sugar out from the other carbohydrate as something to limit.   It also seems to be in terror of cholesterol and to comply with its numbers would make hitting your calorie goals almost impossible while keeping carbohydrate in check.  I know that the fat/carb debate and the truth about cholesterol are slightly politically sensitive but making the target numbers user entered from 0 to infinity rather than a slider from low acceptable to high acceptable would have been nice.

My only real complaint is that the strap is a weird double hook thing and falls off constantly if the tension in the rubber strap isn't perfect.

All in all it is a great piece of kit with a really nice bit of software.  It keeps your health and fitness basics totally under control.  If you are looking to get into health and fitness I would recommend one strongly.  You really should focus on sleep, low level movement and diet quality before you worry about anything more complicated.

If you have any experience with this or any other tracker doohickey please let me know what you think about them in the comments section.  Please sign up to the Force of Nature Tribe here and get more information and free stuff.

Richard Bath

Get strong, move well, eat naturally.