Tag Archives: health

Interview with Ronda Collier: How Heart Rate Variability Can Help You Manage Stress by Primal Blueprint


Description: Host Brad Kearns talks with Brock Armstrong (the voice of the MDA blog podcasts and a Sweetbeat ambassador/product tester) and Ronda Collier, CEO of Sweetwater Health, makers of the Sweetbeat Life iOS application. Sweetbeat Life allows for convenient Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measuring and information storage. This discussion will acquaint listeners with the basics of HRV, and proceed quickly to discuss some of the finer points of HRV’s effectiveness in monitoring stress and recovery. Heart Rate Variability is a measurement of the variation in intervals between heartbeats. More variation indicates better cardiovascular fitness and stress management, and is represented in a higher HRV number on a 1-100 scale.

Finer details of this show’s discussion include: how Low Frequency (LF) and High Frequency (HF) values correlate with sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activity; techniques for how to moderate your stress response and improve your recovery through breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and extra sleep; and a step-by-step process for how to get started in HRV monitoring (buying the proper equipment, operating the Sweetbeat Life app smoothly, and understanding how to best use the informational graphs generated by the app). This is a fantastic show to help you jump head first into the amazing health technology of Heart Rate Variability!

Topic timestamps:

  • What is HRV?: 01:19
  • Autonomic nervous system: 03:01
  • You want a high HRV: 08:32
  • Crossover point: 13:46
  • Look at other stressors: 21:31
  • The brain’s job: 23:37
  • Getting quality sleep: 30:31
  • Analyzing sleep cycle: 33:09
  • How to get started: 35:42
  • How did Ronda get into this?: 42:29
  • Stress measurement: 44:2

Listen to the full podcast here!

Triathlon World Summit Tickets Available Now!


The Triathlon World Summit brings you experts that will teach you their tips and tricks to improving performance and health.

Our very own, Ronda Collier, has been interviewed for the Triathlon World Summit. She will be speaking about upping performance using heart rate variability for training. Register now for free! Ronda’s interview will run LIVE November 21st and 22nd. There are a total of 25 coaches, athletes and visionaries speaking between now and then, including our partner Ben Greenfield! View the schedule on their website.

They will play several of the interviews live and free. To get access to all of the information (over $600 in educational information, videos, slides, etc.), you must purchase the digital access pass.

FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY: digital access presale tickets are available for only $47 until event starts. The event begins on November 9th, at 2 pm PST. Get your presale tickets now!


View nearly 30 HOURS of multi-media interviews between Kristian Manietta and the world’s experts and thought leaders on:

COACHING: The Coaches who are helping you remove the noise so you train better, improve health while also helping you get to the performances you desire even when the time you have to train seems against you.

NUTRITION: The Nutrition specialists helping change the game by getting you more metabolically efficient, recovering quicker, and not destroying your metabolism or long term health in the process.

THE MENTAL GAME: The NLP expert, the lessons from World Champions and the Coaches helping you learn how to develop this crucial 6 inches between the ears so you don’t fall short.

MOVE BETTER: The Movement specialists giving you the keys to better economy. Want more power, speed, better fuel efficiency and the ability for you body to endure.. then you need to learn from these guys.

The Triathlon World Summit is packed with so much information—answers you’ll need so Triathlon doesn’t wreck your health but improves it while helping you get the performances you desire — you’ll not only watch it once, but also keep it on hand for future reference!


The “Geek” Screen – Understanding the SweetBeatLife Metrics

Update: The HealthPatch is no longer available to consumers. We are disappointed by this news, but are continuing to search for consumer patch partners. This article has been edited to exclude the old HealthPatch metrics.

The new SweetBeatLife “stats” screen, more widely referred to as the “geek” screen, shows all the metrics used in the algorithm calculations. These are the metrics explained in order from top left to bottom right:


Low Frequency (LF) – The low frequency metric shows the real-time power level of your sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system in raw form.

High Frequency (LF) – The high frequency metric shows the real-time power level of your parasympathetic (rest and recover) nervous system in raw form.

LF/HF – Stress is associated with a high LF with respect to HF, or a high LF/HF ratio. By selecting the settings wheel in the top right corner, you can choose your “Stress Sensitivity Level”.

TIP: If you find that your stress level is always in the blue or the red, then you most likely need to change your “Stress Sensitivity Level”. If you are always in the blue, this means you need to base your stress level on a smaller ratio (high sensitivity level). Challenge yourself by moving up a level or two. If you are in the red, then you might need a higher ratio (lower sensitivity level). A good indication that your stress management techniques have worked is when you need to change your sensitivity level to a higher sensitivity level.

Root Mean Square of Successive Differences (rMSSD) – In other words, the square root of the mean of the sum of the squares of the successive differences between adjacent RR Intervals. I swear that’s in English. I suggest checking out our library and reading our HRV Measurements slides (slide 15) to thoroughly understand the different domains. The important thing to remember is thatrMSSD is a time domain standard and is just one of the several parameters that measure heart rate variability.HRVtrainingss

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) – HRV is the variation in the time interval between one heartbeat and the next. If only it were that simple; read our HRV backgrounder to learn more. In SweetBeatLife, HRV is a real-time scaled version (between 1-100) of rMSSD and represents the state of the autonomic nervous system and its ability to respond/react and recover from internal and external stressors. These stressors include orthostatic (standing and sitting), environmental and psychological.

TIP: The HRV for Training function of SweetBeatLife uses a special algorithm to customize your reference line and manage your training.

Heart Rate – Heart rate is the speed of the heartbeat, more specifically in this case, it is a real-time measure of your beats per minute.

*Respiration – Breathing correctly is an important factor in stress management and HRV for training. This is why we include a breath pacer. There are many different theories on which kind of breathing is best for your health. We use a specific pace meant to balance your nervous system.

TIP: The breath pacer featured on the relax screen within SweetBeatLife is proven to help balance the autonomic nervous system.

RR – On an EKG the heart rate is measured using the R wave to R wave interval (RR Interval). The RR metric is shown in real-time and quite necessary for the measurement of HRV.

TIP: Only heart rate monitors that are Bluetooth low energy (BTLE) and record RR Intervals can be used with SweetBeatLife for accuracy purposes. Pulse oximeters (watches, finger sensors, etc.) measure heart rate by pulse detection, which is not accurate enough for HRV. Please visit our compatibility chart for help and visit our health sensors page to purchase one.


*Steps – Another metric that may be familiar to you if you have ever used a fitness tracker. Your steps can be imported and tracker through your other wearables: Fitbit & Withings.


SweetBeatLife on iTunes!

Why Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat: What Do We Do Now?

SodaWe’ve been hearing for years that artificial sweeteners are bad for you and can actually cause weight gain. This flies in the face of logic. After all, if you’re consuming fewer calories than you would if you were using sugar or honey, how could they encourage weight gain? And just how bad are they for you in other ways? We decided to stop asking ourselves these questions and get down to what appears to be the truth of the matter.

Artificial sweeteners have been around for more than 130 years; saccharin was developed in 1878 from coal tar derivatives (yum!). It didn’t enter widespread use until WWI, due to sugar shortages. But artificial sweeteners experienced a huge boost in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, as new sweeteners were introduced to satisfy the sweet tooth (teeth?) of dieters.[1] The rising tide of American obesity increased in step with the increase in consumption of artificially sweetened products, particularly diet sodas.

Artificial sweeteners have been controversial and subject to scrutiny almost from their inception. The USDA began investigating saccharin in 1907, and then proceeded to flipflop, proclaiming it an adulterant in 1911, then stating in 1912 that saccharin was not harmful to human health.

Cyclamates underwent similar scrutiny by the FDA in the 1960s, and is still banned in the U.S., spurring the development of alternatives such as aspartame and sucralose. Artificial sweeteners are in widespread use today in sodas, candies and other processed foods, as well as available on (almost) every restaurant table in America. Some, like stevia, claim to be derived from natural sources, the implication being that they are better for you than completely laboratory-derived products. (Most stevia products are actually highly processed.)

The basis for the story that artificial sweeteners promote weight gain comes from a study at Purdue University.[2] Rats were fed yogurt sweetened with glucose (table sugar) and compared to a group of rats fed yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin. Three different experiments were conducted to see whether saccharin changed the rats’ ability to regulate intake of calories. The saccharin-fed rats later consumed more calories, gained more weight, put on more body fat and didn’t make up for it by cutting back on calories. This phenomenon occurred at statistically significant levels.

The researchers postulated that when the body detects sweetness, it gears up to consume a high-calorie food. When the false sweetness is not followed by the anticipated calories, it confuses the body’s connection between sweetness and calories. This leads to increased intake of calories and a blunted satiety response to overeating, leading to increased accumulation of fat.

Of course, these were rats, not people. Other studies have shown that at some level, the brain can distinguish between real and artificial sweeteners—but not, as it happens, if the person regularly consumes diet soft drinks. A diet soda drinker’s pleasure center in the brain will respond equally to either sucrose- or artificially sweetened sodas. Activity was diminished in an area of the brain called the caudate head in diet soda drinkers. Decreased activation of this area is associated with elevated risk of obesity.[3]

So far, we’ve learned that artificial sweeteners may blunt people’s satiety response, but that if they come in the form of diet soda, this effect may be worsened. Is there anything else out there to worry us about artificial sweeteners?

Although there have been many hoaxes perpetuated around artificial sweeteners and their alleged danger to human health, according to the FDA, all sweeteners currently on the market have been conclusively proven safe for human consumption.[4] There is no credible evidence that any of these sweeteners cause toxic reactions, cancer, seizures, or any of the other claims that have been lodged against them.

However, there is ample evidence they can make you fat. What more do we need to know? Artificial sweeteners are products that do the exact opposite of what they were intended to do.

So what alternatives do we have? We know that sugar isn’t good for us, and we know that high fructose corn syrup is worse. Sugar alcohols (which are not alcohols) can raise blood glucose levels, although not usually to the level of sugar. Sugar alcohols (including maltitol, sorbitol and xylitol) can also cause gastric symptoms, especially in children.[5] Honey is no better than sugar, healthwise, especially if processed (raw honey may confer some health benefits in the form of trace minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals).

Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives for sweetening the morning cup of tea or coffee. Which you choose depends on your personal taste, plus where it falls on the glycemic index. Diabetics in particular need to find a low-glycemic-index sweetener they can live with if they wish to avoid artificial sweeteners.

Brown rice syrup. This has a distinct malty or nutty flavor. It falls high on the glycemic index at 85, which makes it unsuitable for diabetics. It does contain minute traces of arsenic because brown rice contains minute traces of arsenic, but not enough to harm you unless you’re really chugging the stuff—in which case, you might have other worries.

Coconut palm sugar. This is a pale brown, granulated sugar made from the sap of coconut palms. It has a pleasant, light flavor and is relatively low on the glycemic index at 35.

Barley malt syrup. This is derived from malted (sprouted) barley that is cooked until the starch converts to sugar. It comes as a syrup or powder and is 42 on the glycemic index.

Agave nectar. Made from the juice of the blue agave plant (the same plant used to make tequila). It’s low on the glycemic index, between 15 and 30, depending on whether you are using raw or refined syrup. The raw syrup is darker and has more flavor, while the refined is a light color and has less flavor.

Stevia. Stevia is 0 on the glycemic index although it is 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar. It is touted as a natural product, but the white powder you put in your iced tea is in fact the product of an intensive refining process (and may also contain maltodextrin, which is highly processed and may elevate blood sugar[6]). There are liquid tinctures of stevia available that are not highly processed.

The sweeteners mentioned here are widely available, affordable, and palatable to most people (although some people react strongly to the taste of stevia). Find out more about sweeteners and where they fall on the glycemic scale at http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/healthy-sugar-alternatives/

SweetBeat Tuned for Athletic HRV Training

Front crawl swimmer speeding through the pool


Many of you are athletes or fitness-focused individuals and currently use SweetBeat to monitor and track your HRV as it correlates to your training routine. In an effort to better meet your needs, we have added some features that are specifically designed for HRV recovery and training.

The latest release of SweetBeat can now be downloaded from the App Store.

When you press start, you can view a selection screen to monitor stress, run HRV For Training session or run a Heart Rate Recovery session. If you select the Help icon (question mark in a box) at the right of each session type, you will see the following screen.

Session Selection Screen

Select session


You can learn about the HRV For Training feature set by swiping to the left after you select the help ? button. The following six screens give you an overview of the new SweetBeat functionality.












HRV for Training over time


To run an HRV For Training session, select the session option, and press the start button on the main monitor screen. SweetBeat will automatically filter your HRV readings from your heart rate monitor and begin counting down a three-minute session.

The SweetBeat learning algorithm will establish a reference line over a few days as shown in the HRV For Training Over Time graph.

We recommend that you initially do light training or no training for a couple of days.  If you do train during initial sessions, the algorithm will compensate and adjust over the first 10 days of use, improving accuracy over time.

The HRV For Training Over Time graph will provide recommendations after each daily reading for a regular training day (HRV is above reference line), a light exertion day (HRV is below reference line for one day), or a rest day (HRV is below the reference line for two days).

If you wish, SweetBeat will remind you to take a daily HRV reading, with a selectable time that you preset. This reminder will appear initially when you select your first HRV training session. If you want to change the daily reminder time, you can access the preset in the settings menu under application settings.

Daily Reminder Setting

Daily Reminder


Charts for each session are included in history tab as well as cumulative charts for all sessions. HRV training sessions are tagged as HRV in the history screen.  You can also still select your own tag.

Good luck with your training! If you have any questions you can email us at support@sweetwaterhrv.com and we will reply within 24 hours.

SweetBeat Gets the Blues

Bluetooth is a wonderful invention. It enhances the mobility of the athlete, who no longer has to mess with wires while working out. It’s also a boon to the person who likes to garden or do other chores while listening to music. (I know one gentleman who bought Bluetooth headphones because he liked to garden while listening to music and snipped his wires with the garden shears once too many times.)

But when it comes to heart rate variability, not all Bluetooth is created equal. When SweetWater Health came out with our Bluetooth-compatible version of SweetBeat™, we tested several BT sensors to assure accuracy. Heart rate requires a lower sampling rate, and all sensors performed well for heart rate detection. But HRV requires a more frequent sampling rate to be accurate, which is why the iPhone camera sensor, at 30 frames per second, cannot deliver accurate HRV data.

You can use any Bluetooth v4.0 low-energy heart rate monitor with SweetBeat, including 60Beat and newer Polar H7 models with the iPhone 4S, 5, iPad 3 and newer iPod Touch 5 devices—with one exception. You cannot use Wahoo Blue HR. It’s fine for heart rate, but is not suitable for heart rate variability. This is noted in the app store description of SweetBeat.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause our Wahoo Blue HR owners. We have worked closely with Wahoo on this issue, but as of this writing, the technical issues have not yet been resolved.

Questions? Please contact us at info@SweetWaterHRV.com.

Important Information for SweetBeat Users

SweetWater Health is a very young company. SweetBeat™, our iPhone app, has been on the market for just a little over a year. We started with no users at all (except for us SweetWaterites), and during the months that followed SweetBeat’s debut, we have watched with interest as our audience of users has grown.

And you, our users, have surprised us. We thought that most people would purchase SweetBeat to help reduce stress. There are certainly some users that fit that profile, but the dedicated users, the ones who really use SweetBeat all the time, are athletes—often elite athletes—who use SweetBeat for HRV training to help understand their bodies better and to optimize training schedules.

And you—our dedicated users—told us that the product needed tweaking so you could use it even more effectively. So tweak it we did, and we need to tell you about the changes we made. This is important to know even if you are not an athlete, as your HRV levels will appear lower than in previous versions. This does not mean your HRV has changed—only the scale.

SweetBeat version 1.2.2 (and beyond) includes a refinement of the HRV calculation algorithm to fine-tune it for athletes. Some of you ultra-fit individuals were “maxing out” the HRV reading at 100. The new algorithm fixes this with the result that the calculated HRV will appear lower than in previous versions of SweetBeat. We have included some charts to illustrate what you can expect with version 1.2.2.

For SweetBeat users who have been measuring HRV for athletic training, your HRV will appear to decrease with version 1.2.2. For this reason we recommend starting with a new baseline taken on a day that you know you are fully recovered. We believe this will provide more accurate results in the long run as your fitness levels improve.

Below are a couple of charts that illustrate how your new HRV scores may differ from your previous scores.

How is HRV calculated? SweetBeat measures the RR intervals (the time between heartbeats) then calculates the HRV parasympathetic parameter rMSSD. We then run a scaling algorithm on rMSSD to create an HRV value. Typical values will be in the range of 0-100. rMSSD is the square root of the mean squared difference of successive RRs. Elite athletes will experience very high rMSSD scores compared to others.

If you want to see the raw numbers, look at the “Geek Screen” on the flip side of the ECG heart beat screen. To see the Geek Screen, press the button in lower right corner of the window where the animated ECG appears. You will see the summary numbers from your last session. Below are the same charts from above that include rMSSD.

As a reminder on how to use HRV for training:

  1. Take your HRV every morning prior to any activity.
    1. This session can be measured sitting, standing or lying down, but be consistent in the position you select.
    2. Do a five-minute session.
      1. HRV is time dependent so be consistent in the length of the session
      2. If HRV drops significantly (more than 10 points) a low exertion or rest day is in order.
      3. If HRV drops significantly two or more days in a row, a rest day is in order.

Questions? Please send them to support@sweetwaterhrv.com. We’d love to hear from you.