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Fitness Trackers and Calories Burnt

Dr. aakash bansal
Dr. aakash bansal
Chhote Sharma Ji is so smart, he tracks all his movements with his new Smart Watch ⌚😎
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How many of you have invested money in a fitness tracker?
What do you think, is it just a fancy machine or hold any relevance?
How many of you use it to track your calorie expenditure?
Do you believe the fancy numbers that appear on your tracker?

In the last 4 days, 3 of my friends have argued with me on the relevance of fitness trackers and how these devices help them to track the sleep and steps and more specifically Calories. So according to them, manually counting calories are fine but tracking the entire day calorie expenditure is equally important, otherwise, how will they get to know that they are in a calorie deficit or not?

First of all, let's understand the variables a fit band can track:

1. Steps - depends on your body movement and more specifically wrist. Varies from 5-10% of the total number of steps but give an approximate idea. So can be used to measure daily steps.

2. Heart Rate - trackers measure it with your pulse rate, so more or less the numbers are correct. Can be used for this purpose.

3. Sleep - even if I am not moving and remain stationary for some time without any wrist movement, a fitness tracker will consider it as a sleep cycle. But your deep sleep can be tracked based on your brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing and your bodily movements, do you think a fitness tracker can track these multiple variables and show you an analysis which is even close to accurate? You know the obvious answer now.

4. Calories - I am sorry for this but you wasted your money if you bought your tracker for this only. The way a fit band tracks your calories is no way close to the actual number. As per the studies, the variance is as huge as 94%.

How does it track calories and why it is so wrong?

Trackers are basically calibrated with a set algorithm that takes into consideration the Metabolic Equivalent* of certain physical activity.

*Metabolic Equivalent (MET) - the ratio of a person's working metabolic rate relative to their resting metabolic rate.
So if a person is sitting stationary without any activity, the working rate will be equal to the resting rate and the MET will be 1Kcal/Kg/hour.

These numbers are already set in the tracker. If you are doing a moderate-intensity workout like Brisk walking, your metabolic equivalent will be equal to 3-6. It means you will be burning 3 to 6 more calories than on a resting stage.

Now what your tracker does, it just multiplies this pre-entered algorithm with your body weight and gives you an estimate of your calories expenditure during that particular activity. So basically METs are just reference numbers and not an accurate value.

We all know that calorie expenditure is based on various factors - age, height, weight, gender, BodyFat%, physical activity, years of training, hormones, medical conditions and many others. Does this fitness tracker take all this into consideration while calculating the calories? Obviously, it's not possible, so how can it show us the number of calories we have burnt during the day? Do you think the number will be even close to what it is actually? Now, do you think that buying an expensive gadget was worth it?

My only advice is that stick to the basics. Don't make fitness very complicated. Follow some simple rules and you are done. Track your calorie intake efficiently and focus on your training and then track your progress with physical changes in the body rather than with a fitness band or any BCA machine that will give you some unrelated figures which are of no relevance.

Always remember that a Fit Lifestyle is not at all expensive as people assume, it's you who make it expensive by adding unnecessary things. Keep it simple and enjoy the process, because

Every Decision Matters!!

Have a safe Workout!!

- Dr. Aakash Bansal

#SharmaJiKaBeta #Fittr #Bettr #Smarttr

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5920198/