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HRV: The Single, Next Big Trend In Biohacking And Self-Quantification And How To Use It.

Published on September 6, 2014

I'm really not a big self-quantification nerd.

I don't like to be plugged into stuff all day long. It just makes me feel like a giant robot (and being constantly plugged into things like bluetooth devices just gives me the tin-foil hat wearing heebie-jeebies).

But I do religiously take one simple measurement every single morning: heart rate variability.

And the method that I use to measure heart rate variability is, in my opinion, the singe, next big trend in biohacking and self-quantification. It's called SweetBeatLife, and all you need to use it is the SweetBeatLife phone app.

In today's audio interview, I speak with Ronda Collier, who has more than 25 years of experience in high technology product development with a proven track record of delivering leading edge consumer electronic products. The previous two heart rate variability podcasts with Ronda (that I'd recommend you listen to before you listen to today's podcast if you don't know much about heart rate variability) are below:

Everything You Need To Know About Heart Rate Variability Testing

The Do-It-Yourself Guide To Using Heart Rate Variability Testing to Track Your Stress and Nervous System Health

By analyzing HRV and Stress along with additional data, SweetBeatLife provides a deep dive into health and provides insight into what activities you engage in that effect the health metrics you care about. This is important because the next big trend in bio-hacking is understanding the relationships between different metrics like your weight, your blood pressure, your blood glucose, the number of steps you take and your actual internal health and nervous system. SweetBeatLife integrates and correlates data from popular fitness platforms like MapMyFitness, Fitbit and Withings and integrates seamlessly with the extensive biometrics from the new HealthPatch sensor (which we talk about in the podcast).

The SweetBeatLife features that we discuss in the podcast include:

Options for Sessions

Monitor/Relax: The Monitor screen allows users to choose which feature they would like to use (Stress Monitoring, HRV for Training, Heart Rate Recovery). After starting a session, the user’s metrics will fill this screen: heart rate, HRV, stress level, current mood.


EKG

EKG (RRs): The EKG-like heart beat trace is the first window on the Monitor screen. By flipping this window around, the user can see several other real-time features.


Geek Screen

NEW Stats: The stats screen, more widely referred to as the “geek” screen, shows all the metrics used in the algorithm calculations and then some! If using the HealthPatch, the user will get to monitor their respiration, energy, skin temperature, steps and activity.


RR IntervalsOther Metrics

NEW Graph: The graph screen shows a real-time building graph of your heart rate from RR Intervals. Turning the phone 90 degrees counter-clockwise will bring up the graph in landscape. Unselecting RR in the top right corner will allow the user to see all of the other metrics in real-time.


HealthPatch

NEW HealthPatch: The HealthPatch by VitalConnect, uses SweetBeatLife’s software to record the following data in real-time: heart rate, respiration, calories out, skin temperature, steps and activity. This is the future of noninvasive monitoring.


Correlation

NEW Correlation: The correlation screen uses a patent pending algorithm to correlate all of the Fitbit data the user has shared with SweetBeatLife. This data will come from the app itself, the HealthPatch and any other apps the user has authorized (Fitbit, Withings, and/or MapMyFitness). Settings allow the user to view demos or analyze the correlations between their own data. The user chooses which metric they want to correlate to the others (HRV, stress, or weight). They can choose to see all of their data or put in specific date ranges. By doing this, the user can see their current, max, and min metric compared to their other data. Touching the bubbles flips them for more data.


HRV for Training: In competitive sports, improved performance is achieved by alternating periods of intensive training with periods of relative rest. SweetBeatLife uses patent pending algorithms to create a personalized reference line for the user based on 3-minute daily HRV readings. Using the reference line, the app recommends the user “train as usual”, have a “low exertion day”, or take a “rest day”.


Food Sensitivity

Food Sensitivity Test: To use the food sensitivity test, a user must first take a morning reading of the pulse to establish a baseline for the day. Before eating a meal, the user records the foods comprising the next meal and performs a pulse test. After the user is finished eating, the app will prompt users to record their heart rates every 30 minutes until 90 minutes have passed. Once testing is complete, the meal will either pass or fail for food sensitivity. The Food Sensitivity test methodology developed by immunologist Dr. Arthur F. Coca can be found on the web.


HistoryHistory Sessions

History: Accessing saved sessions is easier than ever. The history is split into three sections: charts, sessions, and food. Now users can separate their food sensitivity tests from the rest of their sessions. By selecting a saved session, the user can view their metrics in a graph, upload to MySweetbeat, Facebook or Twitter, and new capabilities now allow users to send their RR intervals in a CSV file to any email address. .


Grab the SweetBeatLife phone app by clicking here, visit the SweetBeatLife website here, and leave any questions, comments or feedback below! Either Ronda or I will answer and point you in the right direction.

32 thoughts on “HRV: The Single, Next Big Trend In Biohacking And Self-Quantification And How To Use It.

  1. Hi Ben,

    I think your audience should know that Life Trak is launching a break-through wrist-worn device called ZOOM this spring that will deliver HRV readings off the wrist tested to be 99% equal to the leading chest-belts in terms of accuracy. Their engineering team has been focused on the fact that HRV correlates to an ECG metric while wrist-based PPG (photoplethysmography) uses PRV (Pulse Rate Variability) and it has taken years to refine the technology to where it is now. ZOOM also has advanced sleep sensors which enable it to take automated HRV measurements during very specific levels of sleep for consistent analysis over time. ZOOM is also a continuous-read HRM, activity-tracker and ambient light monitor. If you’re interested in receiving a sample to test just send me an email and I will make it happen.

    Dan

    1. Ben & Dan, I would love to see an update to this article. I am most interested in a tracker that does a great job with HRV, pedometer, and more distantly sleep tracking. Android compatibility and/or Windows compatibility are a must.

      It was poised and ready to buy either a Fitbit Charge HR or even spend even more money on the Fitbit Surge but now I feel like holding off a bit. This is a very frustrating area of technology to shop for.

  2. Any chance myfitnesspal will be added for calories in metric? Seems to have the biggest database of foods, easy to use and breakdown of fats, proteins, carbs

  3. Hi Ben. Will the healthpatch sensor be for sale? I didn't see any place to buy it? (sorry, didn't have time to listen to the podcast = you probably gave that info!)

  4. Been using the sweatbeat app for a long time now on a daily basis. I have been following a leangains carb cycling approach for the last several months (with breaks), and it has helped me lean out quite a bit (skinfold has me at 7-8% bf).

    As I get leaner though, I've noticed when I'm in a calorie deficit, my HRV drops considerable and stress levels increase dramatically. So I've experimented with eating more when my HRV drops considerably, and BOOM, it recovers quite a bit.

    I wonder if this means I need to adjust my macros (I count calories via myfitnesspal app) and make my deficit smaller. When my HRV drops low, I really feel like crap, and I think it's stalling my fat loss as well. I do notice the more fat I eat, my HRV seems to recover faster.

    Training days: 2200 cal, 215 carbs, 215 protein, 40 fat.
    Rest days: 2200 cal, 25 carbs (non-fiberous), 215 protein, 80 fat.

    6'02, 195 pounds, workouts x3-4 week (usually heavy weight training, compound lifts), minimal cardio while in calorie deficit.

    1. I think you just answered your own question here, and it’s not complex: not eating enough calories and not eating enough carbs is stressful on your body. In my opinion, you need to eat less protein, more fat on training day sand less protein, more carbs on non-training days. Try to up carbs to at least 50g on non training days.

  5. Hey Ben, coming late to the party, but do you know if there is a difference between the SweetBeat app and the SweetBeatLife app? Would I need to buy both, or does the SweetBeatLife has all of the functions of SweetBeat plus additional functions? I can't really tell from the SweetWater website. Thanks as always for your help.

  6. Any estimate on time-frame for the Android version? Also, thoughts on how this compares to Joel Jamieson's Bioforce HRV program? Thanks and keep up the amazing work!

  7. I see that you can export RR data and be sent to an eMail which is a cool feature.

    I have been tracking my HRV using a different app for over a year now and I have all my RR DATA archived. I hate to lose all the data that I have mined since then.

    Can I import my RR Data (CSV or txt) to sweetbeatlife recreating my history for the last year ?

  8. Unclear which heart rate monitors actually work with it. Got a polar FT4 but the health sensors page says "polar" in some places, but "polar H7" in others?! Do all polar straps work?

  9. Would be cool if our good friend Ben was to talk to Vital Connect and get us a sweet discount on the Health Patch, maybe a big 'first time user' discount?!! I'm just saying….. ; )

      1. I am trying to find a Vital Connect Health Patch for consumer use and can’t find one anywhere. All I can find is medical use. It looks like a nifty device and I’d love to try it. Suggestions?

  10. Ben,

    I'm eager to start playing around with SweetBeat Life but after having downloaded the software I was disappointed to find that BOTH of my bluetooth 4.0 chest straps were incompatible. The first one, the Wahoo Fitness BlueHR, is explicitly mentioned in Sweetbeat's FAQ as not being sufficiently accurate (fair enough) and I'm just guessing that the Garmin which came with my Forerunner 620 has been intentionally locked down to make it only play nice with the Forerunner (maybe I'm too into conspiracy theories).

    Anyway, my hope is that Sweetbeat might make a list of compatible HR monitors more readily available. I'm happy to buy one but I don't want to end up with THREE that don't work and I'd prefer not to splash out the cash for a Polar branded piece of black plastic which is likely no better than a half dozen less pricey models (also) made in China.

    Note, it's possible that this list is already out there somewhere on their site but all I found was an outdated PDF which talked about the pre-bluetooth 4.0 HR straps … at least that's how I read it. Any help getting to the bottom of this would be appreciate. Love the podcast!

  11. Well I got all excited hearing about the wonders of SweetbeatLife… only to discover the app is only available on iPhones.

    What about some love for Android users?

  12. Hi Ben,

    I would just like to warn people about suitable heart rate monitors – you MUST use a chest strap-type heart rate monitor for an accurate reading. These work on measuring the EKG pulse from your heartbeat.

    The new breed of strapless (wrist only) HRMs use a different technology called Pulse Oximetry which is not accurate enough for HRV readings. Examples of such devices are the Mio Alpha and the Adidas miCoach Smart Run.

    I'm not against the strapless HRMs, btw, I think they are excellent and a step forward for HRM technology in the context of heart rate zone training.. they are just unsuitable for use with HRV apps.

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