Well, thanks to Michal and Merav Mor, identical twin sisters who are both triathletes with PhDs in physiology, that’s now possible. They created the handheld Lumen® device, along with fellow co-founders Dror Ceder, Daniel Tal Mor, and Avi Smila, that assesses an individual’s metabolism. By using the CO2 levels in a user’s breath, Lumen can tell people if their body is burning fat or carbohydrates, and then relay what the users should be eating each day.
The ultimate goal of Lumen is to help people achieve metabolic flexibility, which is a state where you wake up burning mostly fat and then use food recommendations to switch between the two fuel sources. Doing this allows you to increase your energy levels, manage weight loss, and improve your athletic performance.
MuscleTech had the opportunity to catch up with one of Lumen’s founders, Dror Ceder, who is the company’s Chief Growth Officer. Ceder explains exactly how Lumen works, what the journey has been like from creating an entirely new product category to having now analyzed over 1,000,000 breaths worldwide, and how elite athletes and fitness enthusiasts can use Lumen to their advantage.
Q: When your Lumen Co-Founders Michal and Merav Mor wanted to measure their metabolism in order to improve their athletic performance, which is something that’s fairly common for elite athletes, they found that metabolism tests could only really be done in clinical settings. Since they knew that metabolism changes daily, they wanted to find a way to make metabolism testing something that they could do at home. Rather than just accepting the status quo at the time, what made you and your fellow co-founders so confident that you could create this new technology?
A: “Lumen was born from the idea that nutrition needs a leading data point through technology that sheds light on how our food and exercise impacts our body. We first identified a major gap between the consumer and the nutrition world. Michal and Merav were completing their degree in Physiology and Cardiology when they started competing for the Ironman, and the need for
fueling their performance stood out.
The question of how to fuel ourselves was also a problem for a person living their daily life. We thought this problem was worth solving through technology, which can be brought into the 21st century in an accessible and pocket-sized device that anyone can have access to outside clinics or hospitals.”
Q: So, before Lumen, metabolic testing was really only available in hospitals and clinics, and it would take a team of nutritionists and scientists an hour or more to measure the results. Now, with Lumen, this entire process can be completed in less than a minute. How were you and your team able to pull this off?
A: “Once we decided that nutrition and health was worth measuring and providing insights for people wanting to monitor their health and metabolism, we decided on a metric called the RQ or respiratory quotient to be measured on a daily basis. RQ is a measurement you can find today in hospitals and clinics. It basically tells you what kind of fuel your body is using to produce energy.
Our body can fuel itself with a carb/fat or some ratio in between. Our vision was (and still is) allowing people to manage their nutrition and lifestyle based on a scientific method calculating their metabolic fuel (or state). We believe that by doing so, we will help people reach their goals – whether that’s weight loss, improving athletic performance, or staying away from diabetes – through making smarter decisions based on their unique metabolism.”
Q: Lumen uses a CO2 sensor and flow meter to determine the CO2 concentration in a single breath. This indicates the type of fuel someone’s body is using to produce energy. For those of us who are less scientifically savvy, how does this process work and what information is found in the CO2 concentration of a single breath?
A: “Lumen’s technology is now peer-reviewed to accurately measure metabolic fuel usage when compared to the gold standard (RER) for measuring metabolism after multiple validation studies. This form of metabolic measurement is known as RER, and it is the ratio of carbon dioxide (CO2) to Oxygen (O2) consumed. If there are higher CO2 levels in the breath, your body is using carbs as fuel. If there are lower CO2 levels in the breath, your body is using fat for fuel.”
Q: While this science isn’t new, Lumen is the world’s first handheld, portable device to accurately measure metabolism. Was the initial idea always to create a portable, handheld device? Or is that something that evolved during the device’s creation process?
A: “Lumen is the brainchild of Merav and Michal Mor, who felt that the knowledge gap between the nutrition world and the consumer was only growing while they were competing for the Ironman race. Daniel Tal, Michal Mor’s partner and Lumen’s CEO today, asked the Mor twins how exactly they would overcome that gap. That’s how a problem worth solving with a viable scientific solution was discovered.”
Q: You and your fellow co-founders developed Lumen over a period of four years. You know pretty much everything there is to know about metabolism. Can you explain to those of us who aren’t quite sure how their metabolism works the way that it does, as well as why their metabolism is so important to their overall health and wellness?
A: “All health starts with your metabolism. You could work out like crazy and follow the perfect diet, but you may not move the needle if you don’t think about how your body processes food and reacts to exercise.
The key factor in your metabolism is metabolic flexibility, or the ability of the human body to switch back and forth between fat and carbohydrates based on their availability. Once you take care of your metabolism and understand the fuel sources that you use for energy, you’ll have an easier time keeping up energy levels, losing and maintaining weight, and you’ll sleep better, as well.”
Q: How is Lumen able to come up with a personalized nutrition plan each day for every individual person using this device?
A: “Each morning while in a fasting state, users take a breath measurement using their Lumen. After confirming a few details with regards to the previous day, the Lumen app provides users with a tailored nutrition plan for the day. Our nutrition plans are based on the fuel you wake up burning and each person gets macronutrient recommendations according to their metabolic state.”
Q: One of the key features of Lumen is workout optimization, allowing fitness enthusiasts and athletes to see if they have enough energy before a workout, or if they need to fuel up. Then at the end of workouts, they can also breathe to see the impact that their workout had on their body. How can this information be used to help fitness enthusiasts and athletes enhance their supplementation strategies?
A: “We focus mainly on whole foods and a balanced nutrition plan with a special emphasis on protein. The carb recommendation is based on your metabolic measurement results leading to improved metabolic flexibility.
When the overall metabolic flexibility is high, the body efficiently adjusts to the available fuel source providing quick energy during workouts. Additionally, Lumen’s carb recommendation adjusts based on someone’s exercise regime providing the athlete with additional carbs to fuel their workouts.”
Q: Lumen has a number of brand ambassadors ranging from elite athletes to fitness trainers, and was recently named the official metabolic tracker of the UFC® Performance Institute (UFC PI). As part of this partnership, UFC athletes will be using Lumen as a tool to optimize their performance under the guidance of the UFC PI. So, how will Lumen be able to help elite athletes gain an advantage in their sport?
A: “Until now, athletes relied on training methods without much data or measurement behind their progress towards their goals. UFC athletes are the perfect example of being performance and goal oriented since they need to make weight before big fights and have a specific time frame to do so. We help the UFC® PI training staff to monitor the progress and impact of their athlete’s training. So, post-workout insights that indicate if the athlete is in fat burn with meal plans that fit their training and lifestyle.”
Q: How can Lumen help people focus on preventative measures that they should possibly be taking?
A: “Prevention is a major part of the wellness industry today, especially remote wellness. Over 88% of the U.S population is metabolically unhealthy, meaning suffering from heart disease, obesity, and high blood sugar levels. These can all be prevented with healthy nutrition. We’re not just talking about a quick fix. We need to think of our health as a holistic lifestyle. It’s not just about, ‘I’m on a diet because of weight loss,’ but rather moving away from diabetes.
The wellness industry as a whole is therefore transforming into something essential as corporate wellness and taking care of your health remotely is a trend that’s gaining major momentum.”
Q: What has the journey been like for you and your team from creating an entirely new product category to now having analyzed over 1,000,000 breaths worldwide?
A: “It’s been a journey of opportunity driven by challenges and persistence. We identified a problem within an industry that sends so many mixed messages about our health and nutrition, and we wanted to be the first ones to take the guesswork away and focus on a data point that gives you real feedback into what happens with your body in real-time.
In 2014, we started with our first prototypes and were faced with the challenge of making a science and research backed product accessible to anyone that wanted to take care of their health in an optimized state of mind. We had to take a 45-minute RER test, which is the traditional way of measuring metabolism, and turn it into a process which is based on a breath or two in a minute.
Our goal today is to make this science-based device into something accessible and usable in the real world. By scaling and understanding the real pain points of our users – people who have tried every diet and trend out there –that’s how we steadily created a product that helps them reach their goals on a daily basis. We give them insight into how their body responds to food and exercise.
Creating behavioral change has been an opportunity that we have leveraged, and getting our users to use Lumen every day and seeing the value of real-time feedback is how we got to those 1,000,000 breaths worldwide.”
Q: As the Chief Growth Officer at Lumen, what are some challenges that you face in regard to educating people about this technology that can almost seem too good to be true?
A: “Well it’s not magic, it’s science. We are first and foremost a research and science-backed company with a goal to put some real insights behind our nutrition. Regardless of how much you work out, nutrition is still responsible for fueling your body and how you process the food you eat. If we look at the calories in and out model, you won’t be able to work off everything you eat. So, we’re offering you the opportunity to eat what your body really needs to feel satiated and energized without overdoing it, especially before and after workouts.
Educating people about the benefits of tracking your metabolism and improving the flexibility of your metabolism has been a positive challenge because once people realize that you can actually get insights when you need them throughout the day to make better decisions about what and when you should eat – it’s life changing. We’re answering the question – What should I eat for lunch based on what my body is burning? Should I fuel up before my workout or does my body already have enough fuel to get through it?”
Q: How does Lumen select the companies and individuals that it partners with?
A: “We view our partnerships as an extension of our brand in the sense that they share our values of making people healthier or embodying that with a data-driven impact.”
Q: What should we expect from Lumen in the future?
A: “Lumen will always strive to be at the forefront of health and wellness. In the future, we aim to impact other industries and integrate into the existing ecosystem of fitness and health tracking.
Wellness is bigger than health – it will be defined by all the health pillars – physical activity, mental health. What Lumen does is collect all that wellness data we already have – our sleep, resting heart rate for example, along with metabolic data while placing it in the context of ‘how healthy my metabolism is.’
Lumen will continue to promote metabolic health, which will be the compass that guides all of our health data and drives our daily exercise and nutritional decisions. We hope to positively impact the wellness and preventative health spheres with an innovative approach to empower consumers to lead sustainable and healthy lifestyles.
An emerging trend that will grow is remote and professional wellness. Just like employers invest in sending yoga mats to employees working from home, offices and universities will invest in wellness within a remote scope. The pandemic has revealed that investing in wellness and in the individual is a key part of making organizations work holistically.
The healthcare sphere is another industry that will be impacted by wellness. Insurance policies only cover people who cross the chronic conditions or diseases line. Public health only treats you once you are diagnosed, which is a small percentage of their patients. A whole chunk of patients meanwhile are about to become seriously ill.
Our integrations are the key to making real behavioral change with health data. We’ve integrated with Garmin® – and we see a huge impact on users that measure their metabolism with Lumen and get data pulled from Garmin. The more the user has a clear picture of themselves from the different health pillars, the better they can make sense of this data. There’s a compounded value. Garmin® users take more steps, they wake up in fat burn more, they sleep more, they have a more flexible metabolism, and are generally hitting their personal performance goals more consistently.
Lumen will be integrated into every at-home fitness screen, whether that’s choosing a workout according to how you wake up today in carb or fat burn, or choosing a HIIT workout over a yoga class. We need to make decisions over the fuel we’re burning now, and that’s what personalized fitness is.”
Q: Where can the MuscleTech® community find out more information about Lumen?
A: “Feel free to visit www.lumen.me or our Instagram @lumen.me to get more insights into how you can measure your metabolism and why you should start. Feel free to also join the Lumen® community to get more insights.”