Ari Meisel interviews Ronda Collier on HRV. See below for a summary and a list of topics. At the bottom you will find a link to the original podcast.
In Episode #104 Ari talks with Ronda Collier, CEO of SweetWater Health™, a company striving to revolutionize mobile health monitoring and stress management by combining verified medical research with the most recent mobile-tech innovations. During their conversation, Ari and Rondatouch on the frequently overlooked value of Heart Rate Variability and the future of health technology.
7 Key Points:
The heart does not beat at a consistent interval like a metronome
Stress isn’t “bad”; How we react to it – our inability to come down – is what makes it bad
People who are in constant “fight or flight” mode normalize stress in their brains, which makes it difficult for them to institute change because these individuals don’t “feel” stressed
Monitoring HRV is a great way to maximize recovery from physical training and keep track of stress
When HRV levels are low do “busy work”; When they are high do “creative work”
Sensitivity to certain foods can significantly impact stress and HRV levels
Good nutrition, consistent exercise and self-awareness are the pillars of healthy living
Time Stamped Show Notes:
02:05 – Happy Thanksgiving from Ari and the Less Doing Team!
02:55 – Felix and Ari address tryptophan
Editor’s Note: Ari mentions that tryptophan occurs naturally in the body – he meant to say the opposite, we can only get it from outside sources vl
03:25 – Tryptophan is not what makes us tired…overeating makes us tired
07:56 – June 9th-12th of 2015, Ari will speak at the Fortune Leadership Summit
Jono, also known as Lifestyle Magnet, is one of our SweetBeat users. He is a real quantified selfer! Read below to see how he has used his data to maximize his snowboarding experience.
“In this video I want to show how I have been experimenting with HRV and Snowboarding. It is the beginning of the season and the muscles are not quite in shape yet. But, the excitement to be on the snow is at an all time high, as in MAJOR stoke! Using an app called Alpine Replay and the SweetBeat HRV app I was able to determine where I was on the slope in relation to what my HRV was doing. When I first looked at the session chart of my snowboarding session and noticed the up-and-down lines for my HRV, I immediately assumed that the bottom of each of the bumps was what corresponded with the bottom of each run. To me it made sense: the body is engaged physically as you descend the mountain and then you recover sitting on the chairlift on your way back up again. Your mood is also elevated as you go up on the lift in anticipation of the next run. However on closer inspection I notice that my HRV continues to get less, or go lower after the run is over. It only starts going up sometime on the chair lift ride back up to the top of the mountain. During the preparation time right before the run as I am adjusting my bindings, my HRV starts to drop and continues to drop throughout the run. What will be interesting will be to see if the speed of recovery changes as the season progresses and I get more in shape.”
Below is a short explanation of the podcast and a link to listen!
“Expert Ronda Collier, CEO and co-founder of SweetWater Health and the SweetBeat app, joins the show to give a detailed chat on heart rate variability (HRV) and how to understand it, use it for training, use it to monitor and lower stress and more. On the show we explain what HRV actually is and what it measures, including details on the nervous system, the components of HRV and stress including high-frequency waves, low-frequency waves, rMSSD, and how to make sense of and interpret those. We also discuss what numbers are “good” and “bad” and what you want to see based on age/gender, when to measure HRV, how athletes can use it for their training programs, stress vs. HRV on the SweetBeat app, psychological components to HRV, other HRV apps available what you need to get started with HRV, and much more including a couple specific questions from listeners.”
This is an excerpt taken from the article mentioned above by Ben Greenfield, in which he has used SweetBeat to monitor his training and recovery. He goes over a little bit of background information about heart rate and heart rate variability. Followed up by some very interesting graphs from his personal sessions.
First, I’m going to explain HRV to you, and then I’ll tell you the best way to track your HRV.
The origin of your heartbeat is located in what is called a “node” of your heart, in this case, something called the sino-atrial (SA) node. In your SA node, cells in your heart continuously generate an electrical impulse that spreads throughout your entire heart muscle and causes a contraction (Levy).
Generally, your SA node will generate a certain number of these electrical impulses per minute, which is how many times your heart will beat per minute. Below is a graphic of how your SA node initiates the electrical impulse that causes a contraction to propagate from through the Right Atrium (RA) and Right Ventricle (RV) to the Left Atrium (LA) and Left Ventricle (LV) of your heart.
So where does HRV fit into this equation?
Here’s how: Your SA node activity, heart rate and rhythm are largely under the control of your autonomic nervous system, which is split into two branches, your “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system and your “fight and flight” sympathetic nervous system.
Your parasympathetic nervous system (“rest-and-digest”) influences heart rate via the release of a compound called acetylcholine by your vagus nerve, which can inhibit activation of SA node activity and decrease heart rate variability.
In contrast, your sympathetic nervous system (“fight-and-flight”) influences heart rate by release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, and generally increases activation of the SA node and increases heart rate variability.
If you’re well rested, haven’t been training excessively and aren’t in a state of over-reaching, your parasympathetic nervous system interacts cooperatively with your sympathetic nervous system to produce responses in your heart rate variability to respiration, temperature, blood pressure, stress, etc (Perini). And as a result, you tend to have really nice, consistent and high HRV values, which are typically measured on a 0-100 scale. The higher the HRV, the better your score.
But if you’re not well rested (over-reached or under-recovered), the normally healthy beat-to-beat variation in your heart rhythm begins to diminish. While normal variability would indicate sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system balance, and a proper regulation of your heartbeat by your nervous system, it can certainly be a serious issue if you see abnormal variability – such as consistently low HRV values (e.g. below 60) or HRV values that tend to jump around a lot from day-to-day (70 one day, 90 another day, 60 the next day, etc.).
In other words, these issues would indicate that the delicate see-saw balance of your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system no longer works.
In a strength or speed athlete, or someone who is overdoing things from an intensity standpoint, you typically see more sympathetic nervous system overtraining, and a highly variable HRV (a heart rate variability number that bounces around from day to day).
In contrast, in endurance athletes or people who are overdoing things with too much long, slow, chronic cardio, you typically see more parasympathetic nervous system overtraining, and a consistently low HRV value (Mourot).
In my own case, as I’ve neared the finish of my build to any big triathlon, I’ve noticed consistently low HRV scores – indicating I am nearing an overreached status and my parasympathetic, aerobically trained nervous system is getting “overcooked”. And in the off-season, when I do more weight training and high intensity cardio or sprint sports, I’ve noticed more of the highly variable HRV issues. In either case case, recovery of a taxed nervous system can be fixed by training less, decreasing volume, or decreasing intensity – supercompensation, right?
But wait – we’re not done yet! HRV can get even more complex than simply a 0-100 number.
For example, when using an HRV tracking tool, you can also track your nervous system’s LF (low frequency) and HF (high frequency) power levels. This is important to track for a couple of reasons:
-Higher power in LF and HF represents greater flexibility and a very robust nervous system.
-Sedentary people have numbers in the low 100’s (100-300) or even lower, fit and active people are around 900 – 1800 and so on as fitness and health improve.
Tracking LF and HF together can really illustrate the balance in your nervous system. In general, you want the two to be relatively close. When they are not, it may indicate that the body is in deeply rested state with too much parasympathetic nervous system activation (HF is high) or in a stressed state with too much sympathetic nervous system activation (LF is high). Confused as I was when I first learned about this stuff? Then listen to this podcast interview I did with a heart rate variability testing company called Sweetbeat. It will really elucidate this whole frequency thing for you.
So how the heck do you test HRV?
When it comes to self quantification, there are a ton of devices out there for tracking HRV (and hours of sleep, heart rate, pulse oximetry, perspiration, respiration, calories burnt, steps taken, distance traveled and more).
For example, there is one popular device called the “emWave2″, which seems like it is the ost popular heart rate variability tracking device among biohackers. The emWave2 is a biofeedback device that trains you to change your heart rhythm pattern to facilitate a state of coherence and enter “the zone.”
Basically, when you use the emWave2 a few minutes a day, it can teach you how to transform feelings of anger, anxiety or frustration into peace and clarity. It actually comes with software that you run on your computer which teaches you how to do this. But the emWave2 is kinda big, and you certainly can’t place it discreetly in your pocket or take it with you on a run – although they have just developed a phone app called “Inner Balance” that can allow for a bit more portability and ease-of-use, albeit with less biofeedback potential.
Then there are devices such as the Tinke. A small, colored square with two round sensors, the Tinke, made by a company called Zensorium, is designed to measure heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen level, and heart rate variability over time. Every time you measure, it gives you your “Zen” score and your “Vita” score, and you can simply use a measurement like this every morning to see how ready your body is for the rigors of training.
All you need to do is attach the Tinke to your iPhone, and then place your thumb over the sensors so the Tinke can measure cardiorespiratory levels. Tinke captures blood volume changes from the fingertip using optical sensing and signal processing. It takes about sixty seconds to measure all the parameters you need, from you stress level to your breathing and more.
You can use the Tinke anytime, anywhere, and it’s designed primarily to encourage deep breathing exercises in order to promote relaxation and alleviate stress levels. While it’s not a medical device, it can assist in stress relief and recovery when you combine it with regular deep breathing exercises, and I’ll admit that as a self-proclaimed biohacker I am addicted to playing with my Tinke every morning (which almost sounds a bit perverted to say).
Then there are simple apps that simply use the lens of your phone camera to check your heart rate or heart rate variability, or even teach you how to breathe properly. The Azumio Stress Check App is a perfect example of that. It’s not incredibly accurate, but it’s inexpensive and a good way to start.
Of course, there are also wearable body monitoring units you can clip to your body throughout the day, such as the Jawbone UP and FitBit, which measure sleep, movement and calories, but won’t measure heart rate, pulse oximetry, or heart rate variability – so I don’t consider these to be ideal recovery monitoring devices per se. Finally, there are wristwatch-like units that are getting fancier, such as the new MyBasis watch, which is a multi-sensor device that continuously measures motion, perspiration, and skin temperature, as well as heart rate patterns throughout the day and night – but once again, this device doesn’t measure things like heart rate variability and pulse oximetry (although there is a similar device under development called a MyBoBo which may offer these measurements).
And while I’ve experimented with a variety of heart rate chest strap style measurement tools, include the Bioforce and Omegawave, my top recommendation for measuring your heart rate variability is the SweetBeat system, and this is what I personally use every day to track HRV. I like the SweetBeat because it’s easy-to-use, intuitive, allows you to track your heart rate variability in real time (such as when you’re out on a run or working at your office) and is also something you can use with meals to test food sensitivities by tracking heart rate response to foods.
We’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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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). There are liquid tinctures of stevia available that are not highly processed.
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
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will reply within 24 hours.
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.