What is GoWear Fit and Bodybugg?
GoWear Fit and Bodybugg are armband devices that track your daily caloric expenditure. They do so through four primary methods of measure.
- Accelerometer – Measures motion and movement.
- Heat Flux – Measures how much heat your body emits.
- Galvanic Skin Response – Measures your level of emotional arousal.
- Skin Temperature – Measures the temperature of your skin.
While it may seem like these measurements are the same or similar, they are not. My question is strictly regarding the degree of accuracy of their measurements.
Below are examples:
- Seated leg movements, such as recumbent biking or spinning, do not register as high as they should. Some people argue that these are not activities that produce high levels of caloric burn; however, there have been studies done of these specific seated activities that have rated high caloric burn, especially with mountain biking/uphill rides.
- Using elliptical or Gazelle-type machines also seems to overestimate caloric expenditure. Caloric burn is estimated more accurately when the arm levers are not used or when stabilizing on an elliptical. The momentum of the elliptical does rate in expenditure but doesn’t elicit that same demand on the body. These issues are known but should still be noted.
- Unilateral arm movements or isometric holds are measured differently. For example, if you wear a device on each arm and completed scrubbing movements, the arm being used always registers significantly higher than the arm not being used. In some cases, it ranges as much as 45% higher. Testing was performed with the same type of device and was transferred between different arms for proper armband placement.
- There are no noticeable flaws in this system. There is also no real way to test the equipment; anything here would be guessing.
Galvanic Skin Response:
- The measure of physical stress seems to exist. I tested isometric stress extensively and the devices took the measurements well. How correct or accurate they are, I do not know. The measurements themselves were taken in a noticeable fashion.
- Emotional stress does not seem able to be quantified very well or perhaps is not a significant indicator of caloric burn. When the stress reaches a point of causing a physical reaction, there is an insignificant measured response. For example, when shaking or shivering was registered, the difference was small.
- Exterior heat seems to affect burn due to skin temperature changes. How accurate this is or is not, I couldn’t say. This was tested by multiple people sitting outside in the shade and in direct sunlight. Studies have shown cold speeding up caloric burn but not heat. This could be a flaw or it could be accurate. There is no way of knowing from my side.
Overall these issues are minor in the big picture, but can affect readings on small levels.
The only way to confirm these errors in readings would require far more study and investigation than I can provide. That being said, here are my thoughts based on research, what I have seen in this industry, and my experiences working with extremely diverse clients.
When the Numbers Don’t Add Up
One of the easiest ways to test the accuracy of loss would be to rate it under a caloric monitored situation. If you measure your intake as thoroughly as you can and then compare it with your rate of weight loss, it could lead to charting its accuracy. This is excellent in theory but often hit or miss in practice.
An important reason for this is that weight loss isn’t linear. Weight bounces all over the place and, in most weight loss studies, water is concluded to be the ultimate enemy. Please see my previous article, “The Science of Scale Fluctuations,” for more information on this subject.
To get any level of quality charting, two extremely crucial things are required:
- Precision in Measurement
I have only worked with a few clients whose accuracy I would trust regarding the second one. And even if I did, there is unintended human error and flaws in the system of caloric definitions for products and whole foods.
That being said, I have seen some “weird stuff” go down.
We Meet Again
It is no secret that I welcome the fat loss challenged. It’s kind of my place. Beyond that, I attract a high number of the following:
The Hormonally Challenged (Adrenal/Thyroid/Estrogen/Etc.)
A lot of the problems above can be solved/treated with relative ease with knowledge of the proper method of fat loss. If we assume these types of cases push past my suggested method of fat loss, they are usually met with more and more problems.
For brevity, I will provide a few bullet points. Perhaps I will discuss these issues further in a future article, but based on my experience:
- Overtraining/lack of time off leads to the worst charting patterns.
- Those that try to ditch refeeds/diet breaks have noticeable charting problems.
- Decrease in general activity and RMR are noted, but only severe drops have been seen in those who are seriously sick, inactive, and unhealthy (as would be expected).
- I still believe water retention is the leading issue for a massive majority of people. I believe there is a degree of unmeasured burn decrease that isn’t charted, but that is a personal belief that, honestly, I am unable to prove. I hesitate to put it out there, and I only do so because there are a few cases that I feel confident have high levels of water retention because of charting, time passed, and water retention assessment. These cases were all woman who overtrained and put off breaks and refeeds.
Take Home Point On Accuracy
I would be “full of it” if I gave either device a correct percentage of accuracy. I only have my experiences to go on, but I have rented out/monitored over 150 different clients and trainers through different experiments and lengths of time. Beyond that, I have corresponded in detail with many others who have charted their own experiences or distance clients.
In my own experiments, I removed as many variables as possible with the given circumstances and equipment.
Because of these reasons, I believe Bodybugg and GoWear Fit to be excellent monitors to gauge your general movement, but not as an accurate measure of your actual daily caloric burn.
In my opinion, I would allow for at least a 15% error in reading in either direction. I would use them only to make you aware of your actual movement in life, to help you understand that caloric burn is not static, and as a gauge of where to start to reach your current body goal.
Cost and Package
Originally, I had a comparison chart, but there are too many different places with different prices to purchase either device so it would be foolish to list that out.
Below are my opinions on different additions and gadgets offered:
Digital Display: No one needs this. All it takes is two minutes to upload your device and see what you have burned. There is also a sizeable lag between the display and the armbands. I personally see no reason for anyone to buy a display.
Phone Coaching: Not necessary and no different than a help manual. Because I ordered over 12 Bodybuggs when they came out, I got 12 different phone calls. I took every phone call and each time I spoke with a “coach” with base level knowledge of training and nutrition. Two of the people were downright rude and rushed me off the phone. Had I been an actual newbie to training and nutrition, I would not have felt comfortable.
Because of that, I do not see any benefit to the phone coaching, free or not.
Food Logging Database: While the GoWear Fit claims food logging, it is a pretty sad example, at least currently. Bodybugg’s food log system is leagues above the GoWear Fit system. While everything is still largely in cups/tbsp, the selection is suitable. It also has an attractive interface.
Sleep Efficiency: Though this is not a technical specification mentioned by the company, the GoWear Fit does have a “sleep efficiency” chart that measures the amount of sleep you get each night. I happen to think that sleep is crucial to fat loss and performance, and being aware of how much or how little sleep you are getting can be a tremendous advantage.
The Better Deal Overall: It changes constantly on price point. I wouldn’t be surprised if two weeks after I posted this article, the prices went up or down on either product. I use the GoWear Fit because at the time I purchased mine it was still the V2 and I preferred the smaller armband. If I had to choose now, I would probably still go with the GoWear Fit system based on the quick response of their customer support.
Since they are by the same company, I don’t actually get the point. To be honest, I think it is a bit strange from a marketing standpoint. I am not sure why they don’t just put their focus on one product and making their customer support the best it can be.
The Real Question: Should You Purchase One?
Before I give my final opinion, I want to state that this review is not an affiliate review. I get nothing if you decide to purchase a Bodybugg or GoWear Fit. I am 100% recommending my book along with these devices because I believe knowing how much you burn will mean little to nothing if you don’t know what to do with that information.
I think if you pair The Fat Loss Troubleshoot with a GoWear Fit or Bodybugg system, it is as close to foolproof fat loss as you can get.
SheilaJuly 17, 2009 at 5:30 am
Thanks so much for this comparison, Leigh. I was definitely in the middle of attempting to figure out which one is worth the money.
AnnetteWJuly 17, 2009 at 6:28 am
I’ve been waiting eagerly to read this article.
I love my GWF and as of today have worn it 5 full weeks and have lost 13.5 lbs (and a few more before I got it.) I paid $149 at Dicks for the monitor and $69 for the display and I pay the $6.95 monthly rate. There are definitely deal out there for it.
I think the biggest help will be during maintenance, which is something I’ve never conquered in my years of losing weight. The dieting part isn’t as hard, and with my GWF I just need a deficit (aiming for 1000 cals/day.) But maintenance will be a balancing act.
I obviously love this tool, and at this time, I’m still singing my praises for it. I’m also tracking as well as possible and posting my info on JPfitness.
LynJune 3, 2010 at 12:51 am
What is Dicks? You mentioned you purchased it there for $149.00.
TiffanyJuly 16, 2010 at 11:50 pm
Dick’s is a sporting goods store…
MattJuly 17, 2009 at 7:25 am
Very detailed and nice work Leigh. Do you think you could go into more detail about some of the tests you did? I would love to see some of that information. Also do you stil have all of those left and do you rent them out to people still?
BreeJuly 17, 2009 at 7:39 am
Great article Leigh. I am asked often what the difference between the two is and now I have somewhere to point people.
I have had the GWF since February and love it. I can’t say it in of itself is the reason I have lost weight, but it definitely has showed me how important movement is and that I often burn more on non-workout days where I stay busy all day.
shariJuly 17, 2009 at 8:27 am
annette- was that a sale at dicks or is that always the price for theres?
that is pretty good.
thanks for the article leigh!
JennJuly 17, 2009 at 9:21 am
Question: Does the 15% margin of error go in either direction? How would /have you adjust for this?
JustinJuly 17, 2009 at 9:23 am
And why should I get your books when I can get something like this?
Seems to me this is just another way for you to sell your books.
jennMarch 23, 2010 at 9:22 pm
Don’t submit crap like this. You’re an idiot.
AmberJuly 17, 2009 at 10:11 am
Great article Leigh! I haven’t bought one yet because I am still doing fine with my results but if they start to slow down I think I will get one.
Justin: Leigh’s books are invaluable, if you can stay accountable you don’t even need the gowear or bodybugg. I don’t really understand why you are here this site if you aren’t interested in Leigh’s information.
NIcoleJuly 17, 2009 at 10:12 am
Justin, Leigh’s book Fat Loss Troubleshoot has all the information you need to properly USE the information the Bodybugg will give you. The nutritional counseling or whatever it is you get with the Bodybugg is very base level — think fitness magazine worthy (so not very).
Personally, I think the Bodybugg is a huge waste of coin. I have Leigh’s book and religiously track my measurements and make changes to my fat loss program every 2 weeks based on those measurements. At first, my estimate of my energy expenditure was off, but after 2-4 weeks of tracking and making adjustments, I figured it out. And so can you, without the help of these gimmicky little tools.
KevinJuly 17, 2009 at 10:23 am
I have both. Leigh’s activity calculator landed me at almost exactly what the Bodybugg did. For what it is worth.
I say buy Leigh’s book first and then if need get a Bodybugg or Gowhatever.
ChrisRJuly 17, 2009 at 10:45 am
Listener Weekend Gift to Self: “Florence and the Machine” album ‘Lungs’. It’s like an edgy Natalie Merchant being backed by the girls of ‘Deathproof’ (if you have yet to see this movie, consider it weekend gift to self part II).
Listener Epic Fail of the Week: Thinking I could overcome the power of sugarnuts (cashews, splenda, cinnamon). I won’t even consider making these again for a couple of months. I’ll need that time to heal and reflect.
SineadJuly 17, 2009 at 11:06 am
LOL Well, I was going to respond to Justin, but that seems to have been done for me. Well said, you guys. 🙂
Great article. I’m going to buy one of these (probably GWF) at some point (maybe Christmas) because i think that I need the reminder for my general activity.
AmandaJuly 17, 2009 at 11:06 am
Thanks for the review, Leigh! I’d been waffling about whether I wanted the display simply to motivate me to move more. I still think it may be worthwhile, but it’s low on my list of priorities.
My GWF was invaluable in convincing me I wasn’t eating enough (it’s easy to talk yourself into thinking that the Harris Benedict or any other equation is “wrong”). I kept increasing caloric intake to match the burn, and it wasn’t until I was eating a little more than its estimated burn that I saw a bump up in weight.
Weight loss, however, hasn’t been as linear, but I think I do tend to have water retention issues. In any case, I have no regrets about getting my GWF.
shariJuly 17, 2009 at 11:10 am
i am thinking christmas gift too, i have been eyeing this for awhile….
so santa if you are listening…. 😛
CindyJuly 17, 2009 at 11:14 am
I have Leigh’s books and the Go Wear Fit. For me this combo is working out very well.
I am eating more, exercising less and have lost 6 lbs in the last 5 weeks so I am very pleased. Still very important for me to count calories and having the Go Wear Fit seems to bring it all together for me. I have read a lot of fitness, diet and nutrition books and the Fat Loss Trouble shoot is the only one I will ever need. I wish I found it a long time ago.
EmilyJuly 17, 2009 at 11:37 am
I have been using a bodybugg for 3 months now and have seen good results. I have lost 12 pounds.
How do you know that it is off that much?
Leigh PeeleJuly 17, 2009 at 11:52 am
There are a lot of good questions here and since people have a habit of not coming back to read the comments, even when they leave them, I will put up an extra post tomorrow answering them. If you have anymore, just comment and I will see if I can address them.
To ChrisR – There is no overcoming something as beautiful and tasty as sugarnuts. I will also be checking out that album.
RedOneJuly 17, 2009 at 12:38 pm
Leigh – basically a good summary, but I found a lot of your insights to be confusing…. could you please clarify what you meant by
“Overtraining/Lack of Time off leads to the worst charting patterns” (how so?? water retention? overestimating expenditure?)
“Seated leg movements do not register as high as they should such as recumbent biking or stabilizing on an elliptical.” (First off, the elliptical doesn’t involve seated leg movements. Second, are you saying that it undercounts expenditure on the elliptical? I thought it overcounted?)
Thanks in advance.
Leigh PeeleJuly 17, 2009 at 1:01 pm
RedOne – You are 100% correct on the elliptical point. The whole thing was edited incorrectly, I must have erased the entire section. I am glad you caught that and pointed it out, it should have read like this.
“Seated leg movements do not register as high as they should such as recumbent biking or spinning. Some could argue that they just aren’t high levels of burn in the first place but other studies of these types of activities have rated higher, especially with mountain biking/uphill rides.
(Separate bullet point)
Elliptical or gazelle type machines seem to overestimate caloric expenditure. It does seem to land in more correct/logical numbers when arm levers are not or stabilizing on an elliptical. It seems the momentum of the elliptical rates in expenditure, but doesn’t elicit that same demand on the body.
These have been known issues, but it should still be noted.”
As to the overtraining issue, yeah it just leads to not landing where your “numbers” should land you.
Let’s say you are tracking well and you should be at 10lbs lost by all your calculations even accounting for errors and you still land at only 2lbs lost. This type of thing was seen where even with an accounting for errors of 15 to 20% there was still far to little of a result and their wasn’t any noticable or measureble increase in LBM or even a loss of LBM that was noticable.
Hope that makes sense and I will be editing the orignial article.
GinaJuly 17, 2009 at 1:03 pm
Can I rent one from you? I need something to keep me motivated.
AndreaJuly 17, 2009 at 1:28 pm
Leigh, you *should* be making money off the GWF and BB – get an Amazon affiliates account! 🙂
JennieJuly 17, 2009 at 3:21 pm
Hey Leigh – I’m confused about the gowearfit price you listed. I just checked on the website, and the $249 price says it comes with a display.
http://www.gowearfit.com/Products/Armband-Packages/GoWear-fit-armband-and-display-with-12-Month-Subscription. It looks like a watch to me, but is there something else you are talking about that it doesn’t come with? There was another one with a $159 price that said it didn’t come with a display.
Sorry to ask if I’m being dumb, but I’m considering asking for one for my birthday and I was just confused as to what to tell my husband to get.
AlexJuly 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm
what is your take on lifting? I wore my BB for the longest time and it never ever put my expenditure about 3 cals/ min during lifting…
Oh, regarding the phone consult…I had one after a few days of wearing the thing and I pointed out that the lifting does not create that big expenditure in my case. I was told to do jump squats in between set to keep my heart rate up.
MissyJuly 17, 2009 at 4:47 pm
Leigh – Interesting article
Soyou are saying the BB and Gowear overestimate on the elliptical? I thought for me, it underestimated. I mean, my elliptical has the moving arms and I am sweating bullets with heart rate really high, yet it shows me at 4 cals a minute; which is less than a slower paced walk for me. Do you think an elliptical is a waste due to the momentum? Would I be better off to try to sell and save for a Schwinn Airdyne??
As for the food logging, I actually like the Gowear database – you can do grams and it has a lot of foods plus you can customize your foods. Of course, I have not seen the BB food logging, so what do I know?! 🙂 But really, I use Fitday and just transfer my total calories.
I don’t know if you paid attention to the pedometer portion of the devices, but mine gets out of whack if I speed up in my walks or bend my arms at 90 degrees. It is bizarre. I can be swinging my arms by my side and count my steps, and it is accurate. But as soon as I bend my arms, or speed up (usually both) to about 4.2-5 mph, it sometimes will only count 1 step. This is not just on the display, as it does not change/increase my steps when I upload it.
As an aside, could you touch on why heart rate monitors are not the best way to calculate calories burned? I always thought that heart rate would have a direct relationship to calories burned and wondered why the Gowear did not incorporate heart rate into the equation. But I read somewhere (can’t find it) that it was not and I just wondered why.
But I totally agree and told someone just the other day on JP that if they get your book and a Gowear, they can’t go wrong!! 🙂 For me, the Gowear showed me how sedentary I was and has helped to motivate to move more, therefore, I get to eat more!! Even though I know both values (gowear and food values) can be off up to 10 – 15 % , it still helps.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these tomorrow!!
RedOneJuly 17, 2009 at 5:02 pm
Leigh – Thank you for the correction. I was really wondering about that elliptical section…. it didn’t seem as detailed as it should have been. Nice to know it was just a posting error.
As to overtraining – do you think that is due to the body’s adaption to the exercise (and thus greater caloric efficiency) or to cloaking?
DianaJuly 17, 2009 at 7:31 pm
Jennie, you’re right on the prices for GWF I was just coming here to post this. ($249 12 month package does include the display and it’s $159 for just the armband and 12 month subscription.)
I still find the calorie estimates to be helpful now that I have several months of info as I know how much it tends to deviate from expected weight loss. I agree it’s a good measure of movement. I suppose you could get similiar data from a pedometer but it’s interesting to see everything that it picks up.
Also for those thinking about purchasing I do know that Amazon sells it sometimes for cheaper than the GWF website.
Katie NemargutJuly 17, 2009 at 10:34 pm
Great article Leigh! I really think that GWF is a great device to use if you are the kind of person that eats more than they deserve. I think it can be a rude awakening in so many ways. Even if it can be off to some degree it really can teach you to stop being lazy.
MikeJuly 18, 2009 at 6:23 pm
OK, suppose you’re a speedskater who keeps his right arm tucked behind his back, and swings his left arm like a metronome to gauge cadence.
Which one would you get? 🙂
Follow Up to GoWear Fit and BodyBugg Article | Leigh PeeleJuly 18, 2009 at 9:25 pm
[…] This is a follow up post to address the comments/questions left in the Gowear Fit and Bodybugg article. […]
CovermeAJuly 22, 2009 at 8:08 pm
I right now am not having a problem maintaining my weight, but I bought one for my Dad and it has been a big help to him, along with some tips I gave him that I learned from Leigh. I don’t think they are a waste of money if you need more accountability.
metalheaddocJuly 23, 2009 at 3:38 pm
Another gadget to consider is the Fitbit. It is just coming out this week. It is a similar wearable gadget to estimate daily calorie burn. It also does sleep tracking. I pre-ordered one months ago, it is supposed to be shipping this week. There is an online component which is not in place yet. I don’t think there will be a monthly fee. The preorder cost is 99 bucks.
Leigh PeeleJuly 23, 2009 at 4:44 pm
Fitbit is not going to be as accurate for these types of things. It is merely a fancy pedometer. I personally wouldn’t support it for accuracy or bother with testing it. IMO.
CaryNovember 2, 2009 at 5:24 pm
What are your thoughts on using Polar Heart Rate Monitors for weight-loss/fat-loss clients? Would you use them and if so, how?
7 Reasons Your Fat Loss Diet Is not WorkingMay 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm
[…] I was testing out my Bodybugg and later, the GoWear Fit, I’d burn about the same amount of calories during an hour of intense weight training and an hour […]
AlanJune 12, 2010 at 1:53 pm
I have hypothyroidism and wan’t able to lose excess weight even after taking meds. I bought the bodybugg v3 and have been wearing it almost 24 hrs/day for over 16 weeks. I kept as accurate a calorie intake as possible using Fitday’s online program. I wanted to lose a pound a week and set intake and levels as such. It wasn’t happening. After 10 weeks I looked at how much I lost and what my supposed deficit was. Way off. I adjusted my actual deficit by how much weight loss I had. I had to use 65% of the recorded deficit to get close to an actual deficit. I also kept track of body comp using a 3 place caliper. I have noticed the bodybugg reports calorie output much greater using the treadmill indoors, over the same kind of running outdoors. Jogging or running outdoors seems far more difficult on my body than on the treadmill. Walking seems to burn almost as many calories as jogging on the track, but not the treadmill? My food input daily is quite accurate, so I must conclude for me, the bodybugg is as much as 35% high.
AlanJune 12, 2010 at 1:57 pm
Weight training doesn’t seem to burn many calories above base using the bodybugg.
MarcAugust 8, 2010 at 7:47 pm
Does the gowear fit digital display work with the bodybugg v3 ???
Leigh PeeleAugust 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm
I have no idea, I don’t invest in the displays as they have no use for me. I will ask around though and if someone has a response I will post.
IvanSeptember 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm
I’d like to chime in with my opinion on the value of the digital display. For me the display is a motivation. To be able to see my progress throughout the day motivates me to get up and move. I like to watch the numbers grow. I actually lost it a while back, and you could see the difference in the numbers. I went and bought a new one just to get my motivation back.
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Susan Jenner | como quemar grasa corporalJune 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm
Did you find that the bodybugg worked for you? I’m debating on buying one (or some similar item) and I am wondering how effective it is. I have two friends who have used it, lost weight and love it but I’d like a strangers opinion! Ha.
MarkJuly 14, 2011 at 2:13 am
This is an old article, but I ran across it when refreshing my memory on GoWear.
One correction… Bodybugg and GoWear are not the same company. Bodybugg is the Apex product that was contracted by Neil Spruce (also the founder of NASM) when he owned Apex. 24 Hour Fitness now owns Apex, and also the Bodybugg. The GoWear name is still the property of Bodymedia, I believe.
The devices ARE made by the same company, however. Bodymedia makes the Bodybugg, GoWear Fit, and they also have the same device under the Bodymedia name. http://www.bodymedia.com.
Essentially, it all comes down to the accompanying software and subscription prices as to which one you should choose, because the devices are the exact same thing.
Leigh PeeleJuly 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm
Thanks for the identifications. I will correct it in an update.
MikkyJanuary 24, 2012 at 8:50 am
OK, suppose you’re a speedskater who keeps his right arm tucked behind his back, and swings his left arm like a metronome to gauge cadence.
Which one would you get?
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[…] I think the most useful application of these is that it truly makes you think about moving more and get the burn higher, and you are super aware of when you are just sitting (oh dang, I’m only burning a calorie a minute here.) Leigh Peele has done a comparison of the two devices which you can find here. […]