Does dieting or fitness trackers work better for weight loss

It’s a growing trend in weight loss to give up monitoring food and counting calories in favor of technology. Wearable devices that track physical activity, heart rate, sleep patterns and more are used to lose weight. The question is, “does it work?”

In a one word answer – No.

Tracking food on paper or digitally is the most effective way to monitor food to achieve weight loss.

One word answers, however, overlook the exceptions. In most cases an activity tracker doesn’t deliver weight loss results to the same degree you’ll get from monitoring what you eat. It won’t for most of us; it does for a few. Sometimes people gain weight because they all of the activity makes it feel okay to eat mindlessly.

Oh, they’re burning a lot of calories, all right, but they’re sadly underestimating how many calories they’re eating. The end result is not the calories deficit necessary to lose weight, but rather a calorie excess that adds more pounds.

Am I saying there is nothing useful about activity trackers and that people shouldn’t waste their money on them? Heck no. They are a wise investment and a useful tool for weight loss, but their bigger value is as a tool for weight maintenance.

Weight loss is difficult for a lot of us. The more tools we have to help us, the more likely we will reach our goal. Tracking food remains the single, most important thing for successful weight loss. Weight loss is achieved by creating a calorie deficit, so anything that helps us with that is a useful tool. Activity burns calories and that supports the goal of a calorie deficit while allowing us to eat enough to stay satisfied.

Activity trackers fulfill another useful role. They provide visual proof that you are actively pursuing weight loss. That visual then boosts your confidence in your ability to succeed and further enhances your determination to stay on track with food monitoring. The confidence can get you through challenges that may otherwise make you give up on your goals.

I reached my goal in 1991 and have practiced maintenance ever since. I learned that if I make a point of staying active I can relax a bit with monitoring and tracking what I eat. An activity tracking device makes it easier to slip a lot more activity into my day.

I would go so far to say that monitoring food is the most important strategy to lose weight, and monitoring activity is the most important strategy for maintaining a lower weight. The research conducted by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) seems to support my personal theory.

I use my iPhone to track my activity. It’s not a great solution. A lot of the time I don’t have it in my hand or pocket so any activity I get during those times isn’t tracked.

A favorite way of mine to get exercise is by rowing. I don’t want to tell you how many of my phones have taken a plunge into salt water. Sometimes they survive the immersion and sometimes they don’t.

I stay active by engaging in activities I really enjoy. I often combine several favorite forms of exercise. I build and maintain muscle by rowing and burn calories by chasing my four-legged, living exercise machine (upper left)

I’m going to get a wearable, but there are so many available that I want some help finding the one that is right for me. It definitely needs to be water-resistant and I have a few other requirements. If you’re considering getting a fitness tracker and want to get the best fit for your needs and more for your money visit to find the best fitness tracker. 

My suggestion for best weight loss results is use your iPhone to track your food, and a fitness tracker to track your activity.



Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.