With over 25 million active users and owning a sizeable share of the wearable tech market, Fitbits are extremely trendy and popular fitness trackers. But will wearing a Fitbit really help you lose weight, or is it just a gimmick?
Personally, I’m really into the whole fitness tracker thing, particularly the Fitbit brand. I’ve owned several over the past 10 years. I once tried a Polar brand one, but I it just wasn’t cutting it for me and I ended up going back to the Fitbit. This is partly because I think their software is well designed, and I like that you can enter challenges with your other Fitbit friends. And since it’s so popular, you probably already have quite a few friends that already have one.
Their activity trackers have also evolved a lot over the past 10 years – the first one I got was pretty much just a fancy pedometer I had to wear on my bra (or in my pocket). Now they can track your heart rate, sleep patterns, flights of stairs you climb, let you set daily goals for yourself and a lot more. It varies slightly depending on what model you have, but they’re all pretty much the same at this point.
So will the Fitbit help you get some weight off?
The Fitbit obviously isn’t a magic bullet – it’s just a tool for weight loss. But it’s a really useful tool that can help a lot of people get more active in their everyday lives. It’s ideal if you’re getting the majority of exercise by walking or running because other activities tend to not register with it or be as accurate.
It’s nice to be able to get a better idea as to how active you are and see how many calories you are burning each day. You can track your food intake to make sure you are in a calorie deficit, and with the Fitbit, you will get a better picture as to how many calories you’re actually burning vs. how many you are eating.
No matter how active you are, you still have to be eating fewer calories than you burn to lose weight!
It estimates your calorie burn based on a lot of different factors like your weight, sex, age, and activity level. Some people say the calorie burn is way off, but personally, I find it to be relatively accurate. (I fully intend to do a more in-depth analysis of the accuracy of the calorie burn, but I need more data)
Here’s the thing – obviously you’re going to burn the same calories doing the same amount of activity whether you’re wearing an activity band or not, but there’s just something about seeing the actual data (daily steps, heart rate, activity minutes and calories burned) that makes it much more motivating and encourages you to not only move more each day but to keep going. I love being able to see my progress and long-term trends.
If you’re the type of person that needs extra motivation to get moving and keep at it, having a Fitbit may help you. (You can check current prices here)
All that being said, you also need to be willing to adjust your diet according to your calorie needs and the amount of weight you want to lose, and that is something the Fitbit might have a harder time helping you with.
There are some really great aspects to Fitbit’s software and I want to talk a little about the parts I like.
Setting daily step + activity minute goals
Wearing one will give you an idea of how active you are, and let you set goals for yourself based on how active you want to be. You can set goals for daily step count, as well as your daily active minutes. According to Fitbit, “active minutes” are periods of time where you’re active for longer than 10 minutes doing a moderate-intense activity (walking counts!). Fitbit will set goals by default (10,000 steps per day) but you can adjust it to your fitness level.
The CDC recommends a bare minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to intense activity for adults each week, spread out throughout the week. Walking is an easy way for most people to get in their actions if they aren’t already. The Fitbit can help you achieve this goal, as well as try to increase it. Even just doing 10-minute bursts of walking or activity here and there throughout the week can add up and make a big difference, and help you meet the minimum 150 minutes/week recommendation.
Source: View full activity guidelines from the CDC
Being active is very important for health, any activity at all is better than being sedentary. And when it comes to losing weight, the more you move your body, the more calories you burn. The more calories you burn, the easier it is to lose weight (assuming you reduce your calorie intake!)
If getting a Fitbit can help encourage you to move more and be active, it is totally worth it.
Hourly step reminders
It’s best to stay active throughout the day, rather than being sedentary for a really long period of time. The Fitbit makes sure you get at least 250 steps an hour, so when each hour is almost up you’ll get reminded to take those steps if you’ve been inactive. It’s so easy to forget to move, especially if you have a desk type job and sit all day long. It’s just nice having that reminder to do it. 250 steps is not a lot, so just getting up and walking around for a minute can easily accomplish this.
Challenging yourself with friends
This is one of the parts of Fitbit I like a lot, and that is that you can add friends to your account, and enter in challenges together. If you don’t have any friends with Fitbit, you can find people in Fitbit groups (within their app/website) you also are looking for new friends and add them there. It’s best if you find people with goals similar to your own.
Knowing that other people are “watching” you and challenging yourself with them is even more motivating than simply setting your own daily goals for yourself. It adds another level of accountability because you aren’t the only one who is going to see how many steps you are getting.
Is the Fitbit really accurate at counting steps and calories?
I find for steps, it’s actually pretty accurate. It doesn’t count extra steps when I move my hands around, I really do have to take an actual step in order for it to register. I’ve tested this numerous times while working with my hands. I have to physically move my body for it to count the steps.
It does not seem to count steps very well if you’re holding on to something – like a shopping cart or the handles of a treadmill. But for me, it overcounts when I mow the lawn.
I have calculated the distance of my walks either with my car odometer or mapmywalk, and compared it to the distance my Fitbit says I walked and it always matches up!
As for calories, it seems to get within ballpark range but I’m still trying to calculate exactly how accurate it is. I will have to collect some more data and do more in-depth calculations and get back with you.
Fitbit won’t lose weight for you, but it sure can help
Being active is very important for weight loss and the key to keeping it off long term. Remember, moderate activity can be as simple as going for a walk – it doesn’t have to be anything hard or include going to a gym.
While the Fitbit isn’t going to magically make you lose weight, it sure can help keep you motivated to stick with goals and stay active on a day to day basis. It definitely keeps me accountable and less sedentary. I still have a long way to go to lose all the weight I want, but I’m confident I can get to my goal and my Fitbit will help!
If you have any questions about Fitbits or whether they may be right for you, drop me a comment down below.