Best Pedometers for Dieters

Weight loss depends on eating fewer calories than you burn off each day. Activity monitor pedometers can help you determine how much you are burning. But you will need to track what you eat to balance with what you burn so you can lose weight. Here is what I look for in a diet-supporting activity monitor:

  • Convenience - does it have an app or mobile-friendly site for food logging throughout the day?
  • Tracking of calories burned to calories eaten.
  • Nutritional analysis, goals and coaching.
  • A way to log activities that the monitor doesn't record (such as swimming, stationary cycling) or that you did when you forgot to wear the monitor.

1
Fitbit

Fitbit Zip - One- Flex - Charge - Aria - Charge HR - Surge
Fitbit Zip - One- Flex - Charge - Aria - Charge HR - Surge. Fitbit

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The Fitbit family of fitness trackers have always integrated with a personal online dashboard and app that let you log the food you eat to balance against the calories you are burning. Fitbit models include the Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip worn on your waistband and the wristband Fitbit Flex, Fitbit Charge and the Fitbit Surge watch

  • Calories Burned: Fitbit displays a running total of all-day calorie burn, which includes your basal metabolic rate, so you can balance calories-in, calories-out. If you do exercise that isn't recorded by the Fitbit, you can log it manually online or on the app to add those calories to your total.
  • Food Logging: Log via app or online dashboard. You can enter favorite foods and meals to re-use. See daily totals for nutrients such as fiber, protein, fat.If you prefer other apps to track your diet, Fitbit will exchange its activity data with LoseIt, MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople, Walgreens Balance Rewards, digifit and Microsoft Health Vault.
  • Weight Logging: either with manual entry or with their Aria WiFi scale, which tracks weight, body fat percentage and BMI.
  • Goals and Coaching: Set your weight goal and see your food plan for your calorie goal each day.
  • What else Fitbit tracks: Sleep quality, steps, distance, active minutes.
  • Requirements: Both iOS and Android apps, and/or wireless USB syncing with both PC and Mac.
  • Costs: No subscription charges, unless you choose the Premium service for personalized coaching.
  • Review: Fitbit

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2
Jawbone UP

Jawbone UP Family of Fitness Trackers - UP24, UP MOVE with clip and wristband, UP3
Jawbone UP Family of Fitness Trackers - UP24, UP MOVE with clip and wristband, UP3. Jawbone

The UP is purely mobile, syncing with your mobile app UP 2, UP3 and UP MOVE versions.

  • Calories Burned: You see all-day calories, activity calories and resting calories burned. You can log activities it missed or you did while not wearing the band, and time them with its timer function.
  • Food Logging: You can log your food online or with their app or compatible apps, including barcode scanning, selecting from their extensive food database, or taking a photo. As you log food items, your daily intake gets color coded from green to red for calories, fiber, unsaturated and unsaturated fat, carbs, sugar, protein, sodium and cholesterol.
  • Goals and Coaching: The UP app is social and motivational, giving you prompts to improve all aspects of your life.
  • What else it tracks: Steps, calories burned, active time with intensity-coded color graphs, longest time active, longest time idle. You can set Idle Alerts and the band will vibrate when you've been inactive. Their sleep tracking is highly detailed for deep and light sleep and interruptions, and includes a smart alarm to wake you at the best time in your sleep cycle.
  • Requirements: iOS or Android app and phones or mobile devices that use Bluetooth.
  • Costs: No ongoing subscription cost.
  • Review: Jawbone UP

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3
iFit Active

iFit Active
iFit Active. iFit

The IFit Active can be worn as a fitness band or on a belt clip, the sensor is easily switched between the two. The iFit makes it easy to track the calories you eat as well as the calories you burn. You can use the buttons on the sensor to record the calories you eat in 50-calorie increments. The app allows more detailed food logging and nutrition tracking, and gives you a great display of how you are balancing calories eaten vs. calories burned.

  • Display: Press a button to see the time, steps, distance, calories in, calories out.
  • What it Tracks: Steps, distance, all-day calories burned, calories eaten, workout time. It tracks sleep.
  • Calories Eaten: You can add calories eaten to your daily total using the buttons on the sensor to add 50 calories at a time. This is great for on-the-go. In the app you can add foods from a large database for further diet tracking and analysis.
  • Inactivity Alerts: You can receive vibration alerts after sitting for a chosen interval.
  • Workouts: You can start and stop a workout tracker from the sensor.
  • Sleep: You can set it to track sleep automatically in a time frame or start and stop sleep periods. It tracks deep sleep, light sleep, time awake, number of times awake. It will vibrate to wake you at a chosen time.
  • App: Syncs via Bluetooth to iFit app, with data added to iFit account.
  • Power: It recharges with a custom USB cradle, a charge lasts several days.

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4
Garmin vivofit and vivofit 2

Garmin vivofit 2
Garmin vivofit 2. Garmin

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The vivofit and the updated vivofit 2 are very good fitness bands that give Fitbits a run for their money. A huge advantage is that the battery lasts for a year and the display is always on to show your data. Like Fitbit, it syncs with either a wireless USB computer dongle or a Bluetooth app.

  • Calories Burned: The band displays the all-day calories you have burned so far. The app/dashboard shows how that compares to your daily calorie goal.
  • Food Logging: Garmin links to MyFitnessPal for food logging, and exchanges the calorie data with that app/program. This is what enables the display of calories consumed vs. burned.
  • Weight Logging: Manually enter your weight and it is tracked on a graph.
  • Goals and Coaching: You can set a weight goal in MyFitnessPal and receive a calorie level target.
  • What else Garmin vivofit tracks: Steps, distance, inactive time with move alerts, sleep quality, links to ANT chest strap heart rate monitors.
  • Requirements: Both iOS and Android apps, and/or wireless USB syncing with both PC and Mac.
  • Costs: No subscription charges.
  • Review: Garmin vivofit

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5
Spark

Spark Tracker
Spark Tracker. Courtesy of Amazon.com

The popular SparkPeople diet and fitness tracking site debuted this activity monitor in 2013. You can carry it in a pocket or wear it on your waistband, neckline or shoe. It syncs data via a USB stick.

  • Calories Burned: Fitness calorie burn is measured by the Spark sensor. You can also manually log other activities to add to the calorie total.
  • Food Logging: Log food with the online dashboard or apps (both iOS or Android). They have both free and paid apps. The SparkPeople app includes a barcode scanner which can make diet logging easier for prepared foods.
  • Goals and Coaching:The SparkPeople.com web site is a highly social site where you can find recipes, track healthy habits and earn badges and trophies for your fitness and diet efforts.
  • What else Spark tracks: steps, distance, calories burned, automatic workout detection. It has no readout other than 12 lights which light up as you achieve each 1/12th of your daily step goal. But you see full information on activity when you sync it to your online dashboard.
  • Requirements: PC (Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8) or Mac (OSX 10.6-10.8) required for the USB receiver. Apps are available for both iOS and Android, but you need a computer to transfer the data.
  • Costs: No subscription charges.
  • Review: Spark Activity Tracker

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6
Withings Pulse O2 Pedometer

Withings Pulse O2
Withings Pulse O2. Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Withings Pulse is app-based for Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices. It aims to balance your life in four areas -- Weight, Activity, Sleep and Heart. You can track your weight manually or use the Withings WiFi scale. The Pulse will allow you to track activity, sleep and your heart rate with a pulse reader.

  • Calories Burned: The Pulse gives you only your exercise calories burned rather than all-day calories, which can make it more difficult to balance with your food intake. You can't log exercise that wasn't recorded by the Pulse, so if you forget to wear it or do a workout of a type it doesn't record, you can't add that to your total.
  • Food logging: The app and web site can be linked with a free MyFitnessPal account for food logging.
  • Weight Logging: You can link it with a Withings WiFi Scale to integrate your weight or enter your weight manually. You can set and track a weight goal.
  • Goals and Coaching: You can set goals for weight, and it also coaches you to improve your activity, sleep and heart rate.
  • What else it tracks: Steps, calories burned, activity graphs color-coded for easy, moderate and vigorous activity, automatic detection of running workouts, sleep, take your pulse on demand, oxygen saturation.
  • Requirements: Bluetooth on your iOS or Android mobile device. There is a beta web dashboard, but syncing is done through the mobile apps.
  • Costs: No subscription charge.
  • Review: Withings Pulse

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7
Weight Watchers ActiveLink Activity Monitor 2.0

ActiveLink 2.0
ActiveLink 2.0. Wendy Bumgardner ©

The ActiveLink works with the Weight Watchers system to record your activity within their PointsPlus system. You can see your progress towards a daily activity goal with the lightbar on the ActiveLink.

  • Calories Burned: You don't see a calorie number. At the end of the day, any calories burned in fitness activities are converted to Points and added to your allowance for the next day. See your moderate and vigorous intensity activity each day. You can adjust or add activities by labeling time periods after the end of the day.
  • Goals and Coaching: Activity goals increase each week.
  • Food Logging: Log your diet via the Weight Watchers site or app to balance with your PointsPlus daily allowance.
  • What else it tracks: That's it, you don't even get a step count.
  • Subscription fee: In addition to the cost of the Weight Watchers program, there is an additional monthly fee to use the ActiveLink to track your PointsPlus exercise activity.
  • Review: Weight Watchers ActiveLink

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