How to Use a Fitbit for Weight Loss

woman doing pushups while wearing fitbit
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Are you thinking about getting a Fitbit to lose weight? Maybe you already own a Fitbit. Weight loss is often easier when you have one of these popular trackers. But it’s not necessarily a slam dunk.  Some Fitbit users complain that they gain weight with the devices when their goal was to slim down. So how do you make sure you lose weight with Fitbit and don’t pack on the pounds instead? There are a few different ways to make sure it happens.

Why Fitbit for Weight Loss?

There are dozens of activity trackers on the market. I've tested and reviewed many different brands. Some are great for tracking your athletic performance. Some are good for promoting good posture or better sleep. But Fitbit is my favorite for weight loss. The tracker provides several features that make it especially good for weight loss. 

First, there is a wide range of styles to choose from. That means you can choose a Fitbit that works with your wardrobe and your lifestyle. When you wear the device more often, you're more likely to get accurate data to help you slim down. 

Next, the Fitbit dashboard is especially well suited for weight loss. Customizable tiles help dieters understand and manage energy balance to lose weight. It doesn't matter which diet you're on, energy balance is the key to weight loss. The dashboard helps you to simply manage calories in and calories out.

Lastly, Fitbit pairs seamlessly with MyFitnessPal to manage your daily food intake. Why does this matter? Fitbit provides its own food journal system and there are many more free apps available online to help you track calories, like CalorieCount or Lose It. But MyFitnessPal has the easiest system to record food intake and also to see important diet information, like calories consumed, macronutrient balance and other important data.

The Best Fitbit for Weight Loss

So which Fitbit is best when you're trying to lose weight? All of them provide access to the Fitbit dashboard, so the one that will work best for you is the one that you will wear most often. So if you are in the market to buy a Fitbit choose the style that fits your budget, your wardrobe and your lifestyle. 

Take these factors into consideration:

  • Is your daily wardrobe sporty? Business casual? Professional? Make sure you get a model that you can wear during both work and play hours. Think about the type of clothing that you wear on the weekends and in the evenings. It's absolutely essential that you gather data during these hours, so don't buy a model that you wouldn't wear to a restaurant, on vacation or out on the town.
  • Do you work on a keyboard all day? If your Fitbit band bangs against your computer keyboard, you'll probably take it off and then you'll lose access to some of the best data and features. So if computer work is a big part of your job, choose a soft band, a band that can be moved higher on the arm, or one of the models that you can clip to your clothing.
  • Is vigorous exercise a part of your weight loss plan? If you sweat hard during workouts, choose a model that can take the heat. Some of the best-looking leather bands aren't likely to hold up to heavy sweat. (Note: if swimming is your exercise of choice, then Fitbit might not be the best brand for you. Fitbits are not waterproof. You can manually enter swim workouts into the Fitbit dashboard, but I recommend fitness trackers made by Polar for exercisers who swim).

There are other features that may help your weight loss program. Heart rate tracking is helpful and GPS is a great feature for runners and cyclists. But if your primary goal is weight loss, the best device for you is the one you wear most often. So choose the best Fitbit for you based on your own personal style and daily habits. 

How to Use the Fitbit Dashboard to Lose Weight

If you can learn to use the dashboard for Fitbit, weight loss is likely to happen faster. Each tile on the dashboard promotes good health, but there are a few that matter more when your primary goal is to slim down. Customize your dashboard to highlight these tiles.

  • Food Plan. Use this tile to set your weight loss goal. You can decide how much weight you want to lose and how hard you are willing to work to reach that goal. Based on your goal, you are assigned a daily calorie deficit. Once this feature is set, you can check this tile throughout the day to find out how much you can eat to maintain your deficit.
  • Calories In vs Out. This is the tile with the meter on the front. It tells you how many calories you have consumed so far in the day compared to the number of calories you've burned. At the end of the day, you want your meter reading to be in the middle green zone. So how do you make that happen? Make sure that you eat fewer calories than you burn. This creates a calorie deficit. When your calorie deficit matches the deficit required for your weight loss goal (set up in your food plan), then you'll end the day in the green zone.
  • Hourly Activity Goal. Use this tile to boost your metabolism. Check it throughout the day to make sure that you are moving around and burning as many calories as possible all day long. Need a reminder to get up and move? Unfortunately, the only Fitbit that provides an inactivity alert is the Alta. So if you have a different model you'll need to set alarms manually. Use the Steps tile to find the times during the day when you are most likely to be inactive and set alarms for those times. 

There are other Fitbit dashboard tiles that can be helpful when you are trying to lose weight. Use the Activity Goals tile and the Recent Exercise tiles to see how close you are to reaching the exercise and movement goals you've set for the day or for the week. The Water tile is very helpful for dieters who tend to eat when they are thirsty. And the Sleep tile is a great tool for dieters who might overeat during the day or skip exercise sessions because they are frequently tired.

You may find other tiles, like Resting Heart Rate, Top Badges, and Friends to be helpful as well. But try not to overwhelm your dashboard with tiles, numbers, and data that you are not likely to use. It makes the important information harder to find.

Avoid Common Fitbit Weight Loss Mistakes

So why are some consumers disappointed when they don't lose weight with Fitbit? It's often because they have unreasonable expectations. The data you collect with your Fitbit can help make your weight loss plan more accurate. But no device can motivate you to exercise when you don't want to or skip a treat when you are convinced that you need it.

Another reason that your Fitbit might fail is inconsistent use. Some dieters only wear their Fitbit on "good" days when their exercise and food habits are worth recording. But if you only wear the device occasionally you lose the opportunity to collect accurate data. Then you can't make changes to improve your body. 

An activity tracker can be a great tool to help you slim down. And your Fitbit weight loss plan can work. But you need to wear your Fitbit regularly, collect the most accurate data and then use the information to make healthy long-term changes to your daily diet and exercise plan.

Product samples were provided by the manufacturer for review purposes.

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