Is your fitness tracker hurting your diet?

Is your fitness tracker hurting your diet?

Fitness trackers are everywhere, and many tout their ability to track almost anything from your physical activity, to your allergies, to the quality and quantity of your sleep every night. But do fitness trackers help you stay healthy and lose weight? A recent study discovered that dieters who wore activity trackers actually lost less weight than those who didn’t.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. While the author, John Jakicic, hypothesized technology would be a diet aid, he discovered the opposite.

Researchers separated participants into two sets of groups for a two year weight loss study. As part of the experiment, all members received tips about nutrition and physical activity: the basics of healthy eating and exercise.

They found that the change in weight at the two year mark fluctuated “significantly.” The group wearing the activity trackers lost, on average, 7.7 pounds, compared to those who didn’t have the trackers, who lost, on average, 13 pounds. The researchers did find that both groups showed progress in body composition, fitness, physical activity and nutrition.

“The cause of why the group that didn’t wear the fitness tracker lost more weight compared to the group that did wear the fitness tracker is still unknown and needs to be researched further,” says David Yonco, a fitness team lead at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital Health and Fitness Center in Barrington, Ill. “Many people use their fitness trackers for counting steps, calories burned and tracking heart rate. Although these things help with weight loss, the trackers cannot be what you rely on to lose weight. You should be focusing more on your weight-reducing diet over your fitness tracker.”

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  1. Michael Heidkamp October 12, 2016 at 2:22 pm · Reply

    The biggest draw back to an activity tracker is that it over estimates the calories expended throughout the day. Then while syncing daily activity with their food journal it tells users that they should eat more food. The best way to lose weight is to focus on creating a balance meal plan and sticking to it. Any calories expended throughout the day should be considered a bonus. This method does have its exceptions for athletes and those following an high intensity exercise routine, but can be apply to most people following a moderate intensity exercise routine on most days of the week. If you have questions or need help please reach out to a qualified health professional to set up a meal plan and safe exercise routine.

  2. My tracker has pushed me more then ever. If I haven’t met my 10,000 steps I will go out at night to reach the goal. I haven’t lost pounds, but many inches. My clothes fit better and not more belly fat. Maybe the research should have measured inches instead of pounds.

    • Jane – I agree with your comment. If I’ve not reached my 10,000 steps by evening I’ll get out and walk the dogs, run the steps in my house, etc. If I didn’t track them, I might well be on the sofa watching TV. While I’ve lost about 20 pounds, its the inches that I’ve lost that are more noticeable. I love that my FitBit is reminding me to get up and move — especially while at work and sitting most of the day — I’ll get up and take a quick lap on the floor.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.