In the fall of 2018, I came across an Indigogo campaign for a product called Lumen. It purported to be a device that, with a single breath, could tell you your daily resting/basil metabolic rate. The campaign also said that with this information, as well as determining the levels of CO2 in your exhalation, the Lumen could tell you if your body was in carb-burning or fat-burning mode, so that you could adjust your nutrition accordingly day by day. Originally, the product was supposed to release and ship in May 2019. I bought into the pre-sales for the campaign.
I’ve long been interested in my RMR, and various tests (electric-pulse tests and water-weigh tests) show mine to be anywhere from about 1450 to 1650. I thought the Lumen could help me see what the variance was day to day, especially as I was still trying to figure out why I sometimes had excruciatingly hungry days in the 24 hours after certain exercises. Of course, eventually I figured my situation out on my own. I learned that eating low carb is very hard on my body, and causes all sorts of metabolic problems – high insulin, high glucose, wildly fluctuating blood sugar, and the problems that come along with depletion of muscle glycogen stores. Those problems went away when I began eating a higher carb diet again about a year ago. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that my Lumen would tell me that my body stayed on the carb-burning side. So that part of the product didn’t interest me. I just wanted the RMR data.
May 2019 came and went. No Lumen. Indigogo emails talked about delays and science-y stuff. New delivery was expected in July, then “late summer,” then “sometime in autumn,” and then FINALLY in late January, my Lumen shipped out. I was so eager to do my first day, calibration day, where you eat high carb all day and take multiple breaths to calibrate the device. After each set of breaths, the device would give me a number, one through five, with one being mostly fat-burning and five being mostly carb-burning. In all of my breaths, I sat squarely in the middle at three (equally burning both).
The next day, I took my fasting morning breath, and to my consternation, all I received was another number on that same scale (still a three), no resting metabolic rate. The app calculated my daily plan, and told me to eat low-carb that day, with 5 of their servings of carbs. It also gave me a general number of calories to eat, and an impossible-to-use meal plan that had really bizarre foods on it and no recipes. I spent some time playing with the app and trying to find out when/where to get my RMR. The only thing I could find was that after four weeks of daily morning breaths, I’d get a number to represent my metabolic flexibility (on a scale of one to twenty-one).
Even knowing that eating low-carb is bad for me, I tried to follow the recommendations (if not the meal plan) for the first day. I ended up having more like seven servings of carbs instead of five, but I figured that was okay. Didn’t feel great, but one day wasn’t going to hurt too much. But then the next day asked me to do the same low-carb plan. I tried, until mid-afternoon when my blood sugar crashed and I had a severe hypoglycemic episode. At that point, I wrote in to the manufacturers and asked about my particular situation. I was told that 1) the Lumen would not be giving any kind of metabolic rate because “people don’t understand the science behind it and prefer a simplified method of following a plan,” and 2) the goal of the Lumen was to use low-carb days to kick your body into fat-burning mode, then to switch up the number of carbs each day to increase metabolic flexibility. In “simplified” terms, they were another low-carb-high-fat diet combined with a carb-cycling regimen and intermittent fasting.
I didn’t buy this product to be given another version of the latest fad craze. For a few weeks, I kept using it, to see if my numbers would change. Sometimes I’d lie and say I followed the plan. Other times I’d put my carb servings up at 12, the highest it would let me, even though I eat more like 15-20 daily. I checked to see if my daily recommended calories changed from day to day (a possible indicator of RMR), or if they changed based on how much exercise I said I’d be doing (nope). Each week, the Lumen would ask me for feedback, and I’d say that I was highly dissatisfied with the plan and wouldn’t follow it. Then it would “recalculate” my plan…only to give me the exact same thing. After four weeks, I never had a day where I was told to eat more than five servings of carbs. And the only time I’ve blown a number less than three on their little scale was when I had the hypoglycemia attack, when I blew a two. Imagine what a one would do to me!
So the device didn’t do what it promised, and no one was paying any attention to my personal feedback or needs, despite supposedly doing so. There was really no point of me keeping it, and I paid several hundred dollars for the stupid thing, so hell yeah I was going to get a refund! Thankfully, it seems that the company kinda knew their product didn’t go over so well. I’d heard other folks say they had a tough time getting refunds, but the company didn’t even bother to try to convince me to stay. I just sent in the device and the money was returned promptly. So at least there’s that. That’s the best thing I can say about this entire situation.
And I need to note one more thing that has nothing to do with my experience with the device, but instead to do with the company and their hype about the Lumen. This morning, I received an email from the developers regarding the Lumen and COVID-19. I appreciated the bits about their workers moving to work-from-home etc, but then they said this (copy/pasted from their email):
Lumen’s method of promoting a flexible metabolism can definitely assist in the journey to building a stronger immune system. Studies have shown that tools Lumen utilizes such as intermittent fasting, can assist in building a healthier immune system by more efficiently ridding the body of pathogens, as well as improving white blood cells in the body.
Imagine making the claim that using their product can help you avoid or lessen the effects of COVID-19. What a bad taste that left in my mouth. If I hadn’t already gone through the refund process, that BS would have sent me straight to it. I could rant on this subject for another full blog, but this is already long enough so I’ll sign off. Final thoughts:
A disappointing product that fails to do what it originally claimed and provides no value that you can’t get from any keto/fasting/carb-cycling regimen on your own.