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Further to the announcement below, all members can now switch between either calorie calculation option at any time using your Account Preferences page. Here is a link that will help you determine which option is right for you and how to tell which setting is currently active for you.
Moving More! Eating Less!
Motivation gets you started, habit keeps you going!
SP has announced that tomorrow morning, they will be launching a much-requested change to their Fitness and Nutrition Trackers that may interest a large percentage of members, especially those with active jobs or lifestyles—and people currently in weight-maintenance mode. Here's the announcement found at
"Until now, our Fitness and Nutrition Trackers didn't really communicate with each other. Your daily calorie range assumed you were generally sedentary, and even if you tracked exercise, your calorie range didn't take all of those calories burned into account. Now we have updated how the Trackers "talk" to one another so that your calorie range will automatically adjust (increase) on the days that you track exercise (calories burned)—IF you adjust your settings to allow for this communication. If you don't want this change, there's nothing you need to do. If you are interested in learning more or putting this new feature into action, keep reading. (Note that all new members who create SparkPeople accounts after today (7/9/13) will be in this program by default and cannot switch out of it.
For existing members, switching to this new method of tracking is completely optional. However, if you do make the switch, you will not be able to switch back later. Here's how to do it. (We suggest that you read through this post thoroughly to understand how it works before editing your settings.)
From your Start Page, click on the "Account/Email Preferences" link in the top left corner.
Scroll midway down the page until you see the box labeled "Make Your Calorie Goal Based On Fitness Tracking." Click the orange button that says "Switch to Our New Calorie Calculation."
When the page asks you if you are sure, click "Yes I Am Sure."
The next page asks you to tell us what your daily activity level is like. Please note that this is NOT asking whether or how much you exercise, but how you spend the bulk of your workdays. This is so that your daily calorie range is more accurate. In the current/previous program, we assume everyone has a sedentary job. For people who have "active" jobs that involve standing and moving all day, this will help your daily calorie range to be more accurate to you.
If you have an activity tracking device (such as the Fitbit or the BodyMedia armband) synced with your SparkPeople account, select that option for optimal accuracy. Note: While these devices track calories burned that include your basal metabolic rate (the calories you burn even while sitting still), they only report activity-related calories burned (walking, exercising, etc.) to SparkPeople.
Click "Save Your Changes."
This will return you to your Start Page, and you may notice that your daily calorie goal has changed. For some people, the calorie goal will be lower than normal since it's no longer assuming that you exercise. For others, the calorie range may be higher, especially if you selected that you have a very active job.
Now, when you track your fitness (or sync your fitness device), you'll see your calorie range change to compensate for the calories you have burned. It will increase as you burn additional calories by working out. If you don't work out, then simply eat within this calorie range, which should be more accurate for you. Note that if your workouts vary day to day, your calorie range will vary along with them. The program is set up to allow you to eat more on days that you exercise but still reach your weight-loss or weight-management goals.
The Positives of Using This Approach
• This approach should provide a more accurate calorie range for people who are completely sedentary (and do not exercise at all), people who have very active jobs, people who are in "weight maintenance" mode, and people who exercise at high levels.
• This approach should give a very accurate calorie range for people using fitness tracking devices that are synced with SparkPeople.
• You'll know exactly how much you can eat on days that you exercise and on days that you don't—no more guessing. This is especially true for people who have occasional "very active" days, such as endurance athletes who do one very long workout session per week.
• Some people may find this to be motivational—a reason to commit to exercise and to track your workouts on the Fitness Tracker.
The Negatives of Using This Approach
• This approach could be "triggering" for anyone struggling with disordered eating or exercise tendencies. For those people, we do not recommend this approach (nor do we advocate tracking calories eaten or burned).
• This approach means your calorie range will change somewhat (or substantially) day to day or throughout the day based on how much you exercised and when you tracked it. You will not know how many calories you could eat each day until you track your fitness for that day.
• This approach will affect both the lower and upper end of your daily calorie range. Before exercise, for example, your range may be 1,200-1,500 calories for the day. After working out and burning 300 calories, both numbers would increase to 1,500-1,800 calories. If you ate at what was previously the lower end of your range, your tracker and nutrition reports will show that you actually "under-ate" calories for the day.
• For many people, exercise is an opportunity to increase your daily caloric deficit (calories in vs. calories out) for better weight-loss. Eating back all of the calories you burn could affect your results. You may need to experiment a little to find the "sweet spot" in your adjusted range that still works for you. Our experts do not necessarily advocate the approach or philosophy of eating back the calories you burn; eating in the middle of your exercise-adjusted range, however, is still a good, balanced approach.
TIPS for People Considering or Switching to This Approach
• Pre-Plan. You may want to log your planned exercise earlier in the day to better know what your daily calorie range will be—even if you don't plan to work out until later in the day. If you normally log your food and fitness for previous days, that tactic will not work as well with this new approach and may end up showing that you under-ate.
• Try a Test. Once you switch to the new approach, you cannot switch back. New members (after 7/9/13) will not have an option to use the old method. If you're simply curious about how it works, you could consider opening a new account under a different username just to test it out. If you like it, go back to using your old account and switch your settings using the steps above.
• Syncing Activity Trackers. If you switch to this approach and then later purchase and sync an activity tracker (such as the Fitbit), your program settings will automatically adjust to calculate your daily calorie range based on the reports it receives from your synced device—not from any fitness tracking you do. Related, you should not track additional fitness activities or calories burned if you have a synced fitness device as this will affect your daily calorie range and make it inaccurate.
• Food & Fitness Tracker App Users. If you make the switch to the new system, your app should update as well to reflect this setting.
We realize that some members will be very excited about this change and others may not be interested. That's why it's optional for all of our existing members to choose the approach that is right for them.
We welcome your feedback and questions in the comments below and will do our best to update this post to answer additional questions as they arise."
If you would like to comment, please do so at
Moving More! Eating Less!
Motivation gets you started, habit keeps you going!