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Fitbit calorie tracking help?



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SLYSAM
SparkPoints: (37,249)
Fitness Minutes: (91,839)
Posts: 1,455
3/18/13 1:02 P

Sorry I didn't see this. Redd, it takes a few days for personalized to get a good number, but it is unlikely that sedentary would give you a higher allowance than personalized. Personalized takes your average fitbit estimated calorie burn for the past few days as your starting point then subtracts whatever deficit you asked for in your settings. My fitbit allowance usually starts between 1200-1500 depending how active I was the previous few days. This is pretty in line with my Spark allowance.

With either the sedentary or personalized setting, the calorie allowance should update throughout the day according to your actual activity level. The sedentary starts very low for me so I don't use it, that is because it is subtracting 500 calories from what I would burn if I were completely sedentary--and that would be too low an allowance at my stats. If you have been using fitbit for a while and are getting such low allowances on personalized, it sounds like you are set for too fast a rate of loss for your body. The options are .5 pound a week, 1 pound a week, 1.5 pounds a week and 2 pounds a week. A lot of people will set theirs for a 2 pound a week loss then post how they have a very low allowance. This would not work unless you burn at least an estimated 2200 calories a day so you can subtract the 1000 calories then have 1200 left over for you to eat. In my case, if I am less active and want an allowance of at least 1200, the half pound loss is the appropriate amount to enter in my goals.

Sometimes people point out that other diet sites give them a decent allowance for the same goal. That is most likely because the other sites are using a minimum allowance and will not give you a lower one so you really are not set for the same rate of loss. Fitbit will just do the math and let you have what you ask for. I personally think they should at least warn people, I realize doctors put some people on very low calorie diets, but for the average person not under a medically supervised diet...



UNIDENT
Posts: 33,498
3/11/13 11:28 P

FitBit is advising a dangerously low level of intake. Absolutely do not pay it any attention.

I am a bit concerned about that, if it's not simply a user error in some way. That's pretty scary that they would make a recommendation like that. Imagine if people followed it, not knowing anyone else to ask "is this okay?"!



URBANK9
Posts: 894
3/11/13 8:21 P

It was giving me the personalized plan. I switched to a lower intensity plan but it's still telling me I should eat 800-900 calories? So it always tells me I'm over my calories.
I put a similar goal weight and time frame into Sparkpeople as i did in Fitbit, and it didn't tell me that it is too high or anything...



SLYSAM
SparkPoints: (37,249)
Fitness Minutes: (91,839)
Posts: 1,455
3/6/13 1:21 P

Reddwolf, ignore the fitbit plan for now. If you are set to "sedentary" it will take an estimate of what you might burn sedentary all day then subtract your requested deficit from that number. It doesn't have a minimum allowance and doesn't warn you if you picked too aggressive a goal. It will change your allowance as the day goes on according to your actual activity. So if this is your setting on the food plan, I would suggest do doing what you are doing (especially since it is working) and then looking at the previous completed day to see how it compares with where your fitbit allowance ends up. I actually have pretty good success if I follow my fitbit allowance, but when I joined it didn't calculate it in the same way and when it introduced this I already had enough of a history that it gave me a more reasonable allowance.

The other option for the fitbit food plan option is called "personalized", this is the one I use. With this method, it takes your "average fitbit calorie burn" for the past several days and then subtracts your requested deficit. It adjusts up or down if you are more or less active that day. My allowance with the personalized setting seems like a good allowance for my goals--not too much not too little. But it takes a few days for it to get a good average--I assume it starts out the same as sedentary for a new user since it just does not have the history or your activity. I would personally suggest trying the personalized setting, but just observing it for a week and in that time just continue doing what you are already doing.



URBANK9
Posts: 894
3/5/13 2:18 A

Well I had been eating about 1250-1450 calories per day, my exercise goal from spark was to burn 1200 calories a week in exercise but I wasn't doing a lot of exercise lately, but until the last few weeks, I had been losing 1-2 pounds a week using Spark's plan.

The fitbit tracker I think when it told me I burned more, it was estimating, so I turned off the thing where it estimates how many calories you burned and that changed the number that looked higher.

Now the thing is, I just tried making a nutrition plan on the fitbit site, and it told me I should have only eaten 590 calories today!?



SLYSAM
SparkPoints: (37,249)
Fitness Minutes: (91,839)
Posts: 1,455
3/4/13 1:13 P

Reddwolf re"I noticed yesterday I did less activity (and wore it less) and it said I burned more calories. The only difference between the two days was today I added an exercise into the fitbit tracker app activity tracker thing, half an hour video game dancing, while yesterday I didn't do that because all I did yesterday was walked and I couldn't find walking listed in the fitbit app activity list."

As you may have noticed, the fitbit calorie burn is your estimated BMR + either what you log or the movement the fitbit picks up. The fitbit estimated activity calories have to do with how much and *how fast* you move each minute, I think impact of the movement is a factor too and maybe how large the movements are. It does measure movement in 3 directions, I think forward and back, side to side and up and down. So it is possible to have a higher estimated calorie burn with a relatively smaller step count if the steps you took were bigger, faster, etc than if you took a lot of smaller, slow steps. It just depends how the minutes of the day add up.

One thing I noticed, the day you feel you did less but had a higher calorie burn estimate... Was that your first day using the fitbit? If so, I would really just mentally disregard that day. One of the default settings on the fitbit is called "calorie estimation" and it is meant to give you an activity calorie burn on days where you don't wear the fitbit for all or a big enough part of the day. Most likely this is why you had a higher calorie burn that day (you mention you didn't wear it all day). I thing the amount it adds actually reflects a pretty high activity level, I actually turned it off in my settings because of this. It is intended so people who do food tracking on fitbit still have an allowance on days that they leave their fitbit at home since the fitbit food allowance is tied to the burn estimate. It isn't as important to have on if you are using Spark and can cause confusing numbers like how you burned more calories on a day where the fitbit was sitting on the desk all day. :-) I'd suggest just ignoring the first day and start looking at your second day and beyond. After a week or so whatever it estimated that first day really won't matter anymore.



SLYSAM
SparkPoints: (37,249)
Fitness Minutes: (91,839)
Posts: 1,455
3/4/13 1:01 P

You don't need to log walking on fitbit. It does help if you make sure your settings are accurate (height, weight, age and gender). If you log an activity that replaces the fitbit estimate with whatever you log. That can increase, decrease or keep your calorie burn the same depending on how what you log compares to what fitbit already estimated based on your movement.So, yes exercise is part of it if the exercise is logged on fitbit. (Spark doesn't send exercise to fitbit, so if it is logged in the Spark tracker but not fitbit than it isn't counted).

It is hard to comment on someone else's total calorie burn estimates as there are so many factors. It doesn't sound super low to me. I've had less active days where my fitbit calorie burn estimate was 1600 for the day, I think I had about 4,000-5,0000 steps that day and some mild exercise. On a very, very active day my estimated burn can be about 2100 (vigorous workout and 10k-12k or more steps). This is in line with what estimates I get if I use daily burn calculators that involve estimating potential calorie burn for different activity levels. It is hard to say with calorie burn estimates, but in my case it seems pretty close to accurate as when I track my food my weight seems pretty consistent with what I would predict with the fitbit estimates.

It is entirely possible it might be underestimating for the OP though. I guess one test, if the Spark allowance is higher... How was following it working? What kind of results were you seeing? If you are losing weight eating more than fitbit estimated you burned, then you are burning more than that. Sometimes where someone wears it can make a pretty big difference in how much activity is picked up by the device. For example, people wearing the ultra or one on their wrist often have really inflated step counts and activity and people who wear it loose in a pocket can go either way (or it can be fine) depending on whether the device is giggling around loose in a pocket (lighter coin pockets are generally fine).



UNIDENT
Posts: 33,498
3/4/13 4:18 A

Is the 1648 before or after adding the exercise calories?

Is it possible that it's not counting the activity you put into the exercise part of the app, so that when you add them up, then you ARE over yesterday's burn total?



URBANK9
Posts: 894
3/4/13 1:23 A

I recently got a Fitbit activity tracker, and it said I burned 1648 calories today (that is total, including activity and BMR). I am wondering how accurate these things are? Because if that is true, if I'm only burning that much, it means I would only have about a 1000-2800 calorie deficit per week if I ate within my calorie range?
I noticed yesterday I did less activity (and wore it less) and it said I burned more calories. The only difference between the two days was today I added an exercise into the fitbit tracker app activity tracker thing, half an hour video game dancing, while yesterday I didn't do that because all I did yesterday was walked and I couldn't find walking listed in the fitbit app activity list.



 
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