Let’s talk calorie trackers and fitness apps

I have spoken about these before and addressed the issue a few times on our pod cast.

We can now be found on Spotify under @busyladiescoach!

Which is pretty cool.

Before we kick off I would just like to say thank you, for the opportunity to help you all on your journey, and bring you my take on stuff as it happens and the fitness industry in general and hopefully cut through some of the bull shit that goes on and get you to where you need to get to.

The tech we have nowadays is awesome

The number of people using Fitwatched and calorie tracking applications has certainly gone through a huge boom in popularity

The number of people using Fitwatched and calorie tracking applications has certainly gone through a huge boom in popularity

So… here we go…. The tech we have nowadays is awesome, even though I am a little bit of a fuckming technophobe. I can text and email and do the odd fb post but generally I don’t use a calorie tracker or a Fitbit or Apple watch at all.

This is just personal preference and as you get to know me more you will know how accident prone I am and how a Fit watch would last about 7 seconds before I managed to accidentally smash it in to pieces… or wait until the very second the warranty ran out ha-ha!

The number of people using Fitwatched and calorie tracking applications has certainly gone through a huge boom in popularity and I suppose a massive part of this is the new fitness boom and the practicality of the watches themselves.

You can track everything from heart rate to sleep and set reminders when you have been inactive for a set period of time… yes, it is cool, but we survived before them!

So what's the problem?

I think problems with these types of technology do exist, and yes nothing is perfect but the effect these can have on the results you wish to get need to be addressed non the less.

This was a point that was raised by our other coach Helen in Bootcamp and quite rightly so:

The calories burnt on machines in the gym might not be accurate and you could be entering the wrong amount of calorie expenditure into said calorie tracking app.

I know this all sounds very doom and gloom and yes well done at the first point for getting off your fuckin ass and doing something. I have nothing but absolute respect for anybody that has the will and drive to train and exercise! KEEP GOING

This is for those out there that aren’t getting the results that they want and a possible reason why and things for you to watch out for as they are commonly done.

I Call Bullshit!

Again if you know anything about me you’ll also know I love calling out slimming clubs on their bullshit and slimming companies that rip hard working folk like me n thee off!

If you’re reading this thinking of trying to get me involved in some skinny tea pyramid selling franchise… save yourself the time and go and dive into an empty swimming pool.

Your ethics are shite and your robbing people!!!!!

The issue with this relates to food tracking apps as well.

Lots of inaccuracies in tracking

Anyway ... my fitness pal is probably the number 1 programme for calorie and meal tracking ... but has been proven to have lots of inaccuracies in the tracking.

Here is where my issue lies ...

It has been found that MFP can be inaccurate by as much as 40% and that heart rate monitors and machines at the gym can be inaccurate as well sometimes by nearly 30% in total.

I know, there is no exact science involved in the racking that you thought was really accurate and in most cases we blame ourselves… putting more pressure into the equation and making something that we might of enjoyed become a chore and something that we dread as we feel we just cannot get it right.

Another factor to add to this again I have mentioned this time and time again in my podcast that food nutrition labels can be incorrect by up to 20% as well.

Some important statistics for you

These statistics show just how far out your fitness app could be out by!

These statistics show just how far out your fitness app could be out by!

So, some stats for you to start with ...

These stats are just rough guides for the ease of understanding to show the possible issues.

Let’s use a round 2000 calories as an example

Daily energy needs for maintenance of body weight 2000 calories to be consumed in food

And let’s say there is 2000 calories of food eaten ( or so we think )

And we have exercised and burnt a modest 300 calories ... (according to the machine at the gym)

And let’s say just for arguments sake that MFP is off by 25% in excess - 200 calories
The total calories consumed has been off by 10% in excess-200 calories
And you haven’t burnt as many calories as you had thought by 25% - 75 calories

That’s nearly 500 calories that have been accounted for incorrectly !!

Now I agree that you can only use the tools at hand, and we will never get a 100% accurate system, but there is an extension to this problem that I wanted to ad and discuss.

Then ... food tracking systems such as MFP are allowing and promoting being able to eat back the calories that you have burnt!

So ... You could be already in a surplus of calories ... Then are being told to eat away as you have earnt the right to eat back the calories you have just been busting your ass working off.

Can you see the flaw?

There is no way on gods green earth, unless you are doing a high endurance event that is literally burning and absolute tonne of calories, that you can eat back the calories that you have been burning without maintaining or struggling to keep the weight off.

As if you were to add these amounts up over a week ... you would be eating an extra say per weeks’ worth of food !

In 2017, researchers from Stanford University investigated the accuracy of several commercially available wrist-worn devices, including the Apple Watch, Basis Peak, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, PulseOn and the Samsung Gear S2.

Even the most accurate device was off by an average of 27 percent. And the least accurate was off by 93 percent.

But in summary

As I said it will be forever slightly inaccurate and near impossible to have a 100% accurate system for meal tracking and energy expenditure but, even if we remove the tracking devices and just look at eating back the calories we have burnt through movement and exercise and don’t think about the other health benefits, when we are talking about fat loss it makes it like trying to hammer square pegs into round holes !