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TOPIC: Eating into Fitbit Calories

 
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December 6, 2012 7:42 AM
I've noticed that with my FitBit it gives me an extra 1,000 plus calories each day. I do log my exercise with the start and end times. Just wondering if any of you eat into your FitBit extra calories or not. I haven't been. If I jog or walk I sometimes eat into those calories but rarely over those.
December 6, 2012 9:09 AM
I noticed the same, I lost ~15 lb's just using my fitness pal in a month and then when my fitbit one arrived went to that... Well I haven't gone anywhere, maybe lost 1 pound or so and I'm on their "harder" deficit of 1,000 calories. I now linked it up to My Fitness Pal and realize they were giving me an extra 500-1000 calories depending on the day. Odd right? I wouldn't get ANYWHERE with fitbit. Just want to get from 165 to 145, so I'll head back to My Fitness Pal...!
December 6, 2012 9:40 AM
If you are seeing the extra consistently, there are a few things. One is your fitbit adjustment comes from mfp using a formula that compares your total fitbit calorie burn to what mfp estimated your TDEE as plus your mfp logged exercise. The mfp TDEE is based on your height, weight, age, and gender and the activity level you chose. So if you chose a sedentary level, you should see a lower adjustment if you increase your activity level.

The other thing is to make sure your fitbit settings are up to date (including your weight as that would increase your calorie burn if it lists you as a higher weight). Also, that your mfp time zone matches fitibt as that can divide your day in weird places and result in high fitbit burns. You might try turning "calorie estimation" off in your fitbit settings though it shouldn't make that big a difference in some cases it adds calories. Then the last thing is to see if there are activities that the fitbit has been over crediting. Specific calorie burn, even from activity, is largely based on height, weight age, and gender so it is really hard to judge that for other people. But you can get a good idea if you look at your calorie burn per five minute graph on the fitbit dashboard. Not so much for the calorie burn, but for the colored spikes. The spikes represent which of four activity levels that five minutes was--gray for sedentary, teal for lightly active, yellow for fairly active and red for very active. If you look at that for a day or few and think of what you were doing at that time, you might find if there is something adding false activity. The main things seem to be driving or riding in a car or bus on a bumpy route, motorcycling, golf carts, riding mowers, operating vibrational machinery, etc. THere are ways to correct this by logging the activity in your fitbit activity database (there are many sedentary, transportation, and occupational activities included. If the issue is transportation related, if you choose one of the options under transportation it should correct your steps on your dash as well as calorie burn).

Thephilz, it is up to you, but it sounds like your rate of loss is higher than what mfp recommends. The highest option is to lose 2 pounds a week with the 1000 calorie deficit so that should be an 8 pound a month lose. You lose nearly twice that, if it was your first month and you have a lot to lose it may be fine. So you are burning more calories than mfp predicts. It is your choice, of course, just pointing that out. Most dietitions and plans that are not medically supervised suggest losing 2 pounds a week or less for a number of reasons including decreasing loss of lean tissue like muscle tissue and bone density and to minimize the metabolism slowing that happens when people under eat (which is what dieting is). Generally, people lose a little extra at first as their naturally tends to be some released fluid retention from cutting sodium and carbs in addition to any fat loss. In that case the weekly loss will slow down after shedding the extra retained fluids. Are you on the same deficit on mfp? You would want your mfp deficit to match your fitbit deficit as the fitbit deficit has nothing to do with your fitbit adjustment. It is comparing your fitbit calorie burn to what mfp expects for the activity level you choose and deducting your mfp deficit from that number. You can change your fitbit adjsutment (in the future) by raising your mfp activity level, and you can lower your allowance by increasing the weekly loss (though the 2 pounds or 1000 calories is the maximum of the standard options.)
December 6, 2012 9:42 AM
I net about 6-700 calories a day using Fitbit and I don't eat those calories back unless I'm just famished (and then I only eat a portion of them back and make sure I'm eating healthy foods). I do have a lot of weight to lose, though, so it's less vital for me to eat back my calorie deficit - I'm already carry around plenty of fuel with me!
  24009279
December 6, 2012 10:40 AM
My settings are correct with Fitbit. And tying the two (MFP & Fitbit) started to confuse me at first. I do the standard MFP calories for sedentary, my weight, and my age and all that. The Fitbit and MFP don't seem to be on the same page but I bought the Fitbit to keep me motivated to do more (it has done that). But I will find out on my monthly weigh in if it helped or hurt me. But I have yet to eat into my Fitbit overage. I have a lot to learn about the data I get from the Fitbit.
December 6, 2012 2:21 PM
I don't usually eat my FitBit calories. I find that it works best for me to ignore the FB calorie adjustment throughout the day and just eat what I planned to (roughly 1500-1700 calories) and at the end of the day, the calorie goal for both FB and MFP balance out to be roughly the same (they might differ by a couple of calories, but nothing major).
  2774004
December 7, 2012 11:48 AM
I usually eat most of my fitbit calories, but maybe it depends on your range to start with. At the lightly active setting and for a one pound a week loss, my allowance is 1200. I don't log exercise to mfp so my adjustment includes my exercise as well as any other extra activity. I seem to do best eating around 1400-1500 (if I exercised) and that is more sustainable for me to stick with and that really ends up being most or all of my adjustment. People with a higher hourly burn rate will be dealing with bigger numbers so it is hard to guess by comparing calorie burn alone. But in terms of activity, at my lightly active setting I often start seeing an adjustment after about 5000-6000 steps. If you are routinely seeing 7000, 8000, 9000, 10000+ steps you are actually more active then sedentary. So you should be seeing adjustments, possibly large ones depending on how high your bmr is. The exception might be if most of those steps come from your workouts and you are logging your workout on mfp (since the activity is then counted in your workout log not fitbit adjustment). You might then be fine eating your allowance + exercise. Depending on whether that allows you enough to eat and how you feel. I personally don't worry that much about the net goal itself but I do generally eat more than my bmr and I tend to eat more if I exercised. There is so much conflicting information from experts though so we all really have to choose what makes the most sense to us and what feels okay.
December 7, 2012 3:29 PM
I usually do not eat back my fitbit calories, unless it's a cardio day. Then I usually eat back around half of the calories I burned doing cardio.
December 8, 2012 2:42 AM
I've been wondering the same thing about this and there seems to be a lot debate about whether you should or shouldn't.

I think where I stand with this at the moment is similar to what sed1217 says that is not to eat into them unless you've had a workout day and then if you're hungry because clearly your body is needing some fuel. I notice even on days when I have not exercised I get some calorie adjustment but I'd rather keep those as a buffer as you can never get your food intake calories 100% accurate so it should all work out in the end.

I'm also trying to pay more attention to my weekly average rather than worry too much about daily because some days are going to be better than others and as long as over the course of the week you're on track it should be all good.
  562987
December 8, 2012 10:07 AM
I bought the fitbit to help track days like today where I've been up and down the stairs, wandering around the shops, up and down the stairs again doing housework...

I'm unlikely to eat back all of what I've "earned" today, but it's nice to know I have a bit of a buffer if I'm peckish later (and I will be, because today I have eaten CRAP).
  31495889
December 10, 2012 11:43 AM
I don't have a lot to loose, It's just I'm also a avid cyclist, so loosing weight is pretty easy (even when I eat back all the calories). Fitbit stagnated, but MFP even with the fitbit adjustment is still consistently less (at the 2 pounds a week level) calories. 2x4 =8 a month and thats about spot on to what I've done. I have to eat what is suggested otherwise on my hour + / 20+ mi rides I'll feel famished and muscles not happy.

It's just fitbit with it's own food tracker + adjustment based on calories it'll have me eat 2100 calories on a day I ride, MFP with same calories for food and also linked with the FB is only at 1700. 400 calories is a LOT to be different on. Thats all I was saying.

Theoretically too if you dont do a lot of excersize but have a large fitbit gain your actually eating under what dietitians/MFP recommends. Not good.

It's all an easy numbers game :)
December 10, 2012 1:36 PM
I eat them back. I think the highest I have ever got is about 600 adjustment and I work out quite a bit lol. I only have about another 20 pounds to lose so I think for me its prolly adviseable.
December 10, 2012 1:42 PM
I set up MFP for me to lose 1 pound a week with a lightly active status. This gets my caloric goal at 1920 which is above my BMR. I get a fitbit adjustment every day because I also work out and add that time in too. I don't usually eat "those" cals back. I'm pretty satiated with the 1920.
December 12, 2012 3:05 AM
I'm trying a different approach that I hope will help me keep track of things better. I set my calorie goal to my BMR based on the Katch Mcardle equation, which takes into account lean body mass (unlike MFP's calculation). I have my activity level set as sedentary, and my Fitbit account updates my calorie goal based on my actual activity level on any given day. I use a HRM when I work out, and I have my Digifit account synced with Fitbit, so all that data gets taken into account for my Fitbit adjustment.

I'm going to try to end each day with MFP telling me I have 1000 calories remaining. That way I'm eating to a specific level of calorie deficit that should result in a 2 lb. loss per week, and I'll only eat exercise calories back if I can do so while still having that deficit. It seems a simpler way -- in my head at least -- of deciding whether to eat those calories back or not on any given day. It should also help prompt me to get more activity if I need to in order to make sure I eat at least 1200 calories while maintaining the deficit, instead of eating into the deficit to consume a healthy amount.

We'll see how it goes!
  18209879
December 12, 2012 11:49 AM
QUOTE:

I'm trying a different approach that I hope will help me keep track of things better. I set my calorie goal to my BMR based on the Katch Mcardle equation, which takes into account lean body mass (unlike MFP's calculation). I have my activity level set as sedentary, and my Fitbit account updates my calorie goal based on my actual activity level on any given day. I use a HRM when I work out, and I have my Digifit account synced with Fitbit, so all that data gets taken into account for my Fitbit adjustment.

I'm going to try to end each day with MFP telling me I have 1000 calories remaining. That way I'm eating to a specific level of calorie deficit that should result in a 2 lb. loss per week, and I'll only eat exercise calories back if I can do so while still having that deficit. It seems a simpler way -- in my head at least -- of deciding whether to eat those calories back or not on any given day. It should also help prompt me to get more activity if I need to in order to make sure I eat at least 1200 calories while maintaining the deficit, instead of eating into the deficit to consume a healthy amount.

We'll see how it goes!


That sounds really interesting! I do kind of wish fitbit and mfp used something more like K-M to calculate bmr, but that really depends on have a good bodyfat percent estimate and there is quite a big margin of error with most methods of figuring this. Actually, I don't know what method fitbit uses, the fitbit bmr is a bit of a mystery. It would be great if they let people choose their bmr calculation method (or even know what they use) because then it would be like a custom multiplier every day. But I suppose that might complicate their formulas too much. I have a Polar F11 and the Polar H7 bluetooth hrm strap and use Digifit. I notice that my F11 and Digifit give different calorie burns for the same data (my strap works with both). My F11 tends to match my fitbit more for calorie burn from step bases aerobic exercise and my digifit is lower for these activities. I tweaked all the settings so they match--Vo2Max, maximum heart rate, resting heart rate, as well as the profile stats and they are closer, but digift is always lower. I suspect Digifit may be excluding bmr (just because the difference is often something like 60 calories an hour). I do use it because it is adding a more conservative amount or in some cases taking calories burned away.

So is your mfp goal set to maintain? I use to do that and actually I liked it because it shows what your actual deficit was and I could more clearly see the calorie burn between fitbit and mfp were not that different for me. I personally feel the net goal complicates things a little in an unnecessary way so I don't really worry to much as long as I am eating enough. I switched back to a loss goal because I wanted to see how my allowance compared between the two, and it sort of messes up the nutrition goals as those are based on the calories consumed goal so if you are 500 or 1000 calories under you may end up under on protein, etc unless you plan very carefully or adjust those goals too.

I'll be interested in learning how your method works for you!
December 12, 2012 11:58 AM
QUOTE:

I don't have a lot to loose, It's just I'm also a avid cyclist, so loosing weight is pretty easy (even when I eat back all the calories). Fitbit stagnated, but MFP even with the fitbit adjustment is still consistently less (at the 2 pounds a week level) calories. 2x4 =8 a month and thats about spot on to what I've done. I have to eat what is suggested otherwise on my hour + / 20+ mi rides I'll feel famished and muscles not happy.

It's just fitbit with it's own food tracker + adjustment based on calories it'll have me eat 2100 calories on a day I ride, MFP with same calories for food and also linked with the FB is only at 1700. 400 calories is a LOT to be different on. Thats all I was saying.

Theoretically too if you dont do a lot of excersize but have a large fitbit gain your actually eating under what dietitians/MFP recommends. Not good.

It's all an easy numbers game :)


Is your fitbit food plan set for a 2 pound a week loss too? My calorie burn total between the two sites are within 2 calories of each other. And both want me to eat 500 calories less than I burn each day (including the adjustment here). I don't log exercise through mfp, when I did there was a greater calorie burn difference but not sure how it would balance now with the negative adjustments. My mfp burn including the logged exercise and adjustment was always higher than my fitbit burn. But when I do not log, or log the activity directly to fitbit (easier for me as the heart rate monitor apps I use can log to fitbit but not mfp), the difference has been 2 calories on the days I compared. When I weighed a little more ti was a 4 calorie difference. The difference in my goals is my mfp allowance is a little higher than fitbit since my goal would put me below 1200 calories pre exercise. But if you numbers are working with what is predicted, that is great and you found what works for you. I just find it interesting that your fitbit allowance is so much higher, when I found opposite when my goals on each site match each other.
December 17, 2012 4:24 AM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

I'm trying a different approach that I hope will help me keep track of things better. I set my calorie goal to my BMR based on the Katch Mcardle equation, which takes into account lean body mass (unlike MFP's calculation). I have my activity level set as sedentary, and my Fitbit account updates my calorie goal based on my actual activity level on any given day. I use a HRM when I work out, and I have my Digifit account synced with Fitbit, so all that data gets taken into account for my Fitbit adjustment.

I'm going to try to end each day with MFP telling me I have 1000 calories remaining. That way I'm eating to a specific level of calorie deficit that should result in a 2 lb. loss per week, and I'll only eat exercise calories back if I can do so while still having that deficit. It seems a simpler way -- in my head at least -- of deciding whether to eat those calories back or not on any given day. It should also help prompt me to get more activity if I need to in order to make sure I eat at least 1200 calories while maintaining the deficit, instead of eating into the deficit to consume a healthy amount.

We'll see how it goes!


(snipped)

So is your mfp goal set to maintain? I use to do that and actually I liked it because it shows what your actual deficit was and I could more clearly see the calorie burn between fitbit and mfp were not that different for me. I personally feel the net goal complicates things a little in an unnecessary way so I don't really worry to much as long as I am eating enough. I switched back to a loss goal because I wanted to see how my allowance compared between the two, and it sort of messes up the nutrition goals as those are based on the calories consumed goal so if you are 500 or 1000 calories under you may end up under on protein, etc unless you plan very carefully or adjust those goals too.

I'll be interested in learning how your method works for you!


Well, depends on what you mean by having my goal set to maintain -- whether you're talking about maintenance level for goal weight, or current weight. I have it set to my BMR for my current weight with my activity level set to sedentary, so that my fitbit/Digifit adjustments reflect my actual TDEE for the day.

I'd say it's working well for me, because it's really helped me see that if I want to have that 1000/day calorie deficit and still be able to eat 1300-1500 calories, I need to add exercise enough to burn an additional 200-400 calories every single day. Before, I was just happy that I was exercising more than I used to, so my average calorie deficit wasn't quite where I was aiming for. Now, any day that I'm not running I hop on my stationary bike while watching TV and stay on it for at least an hour. I don't try to make it into cardio on days where my legs need rest, just very light cycling to get some more calorie burn in, and I wear my HRM to get a good estimate.

After having stalled for about a month, the scale's finally moving again! Only 10.7 more lbs. till I hit ONEderland!
  18209879
December 17, 2012 6:19 PM
I think it is important to point out, when the FB site give you the "great, you've met your calorie goals" message, it is within a range. You can be plus or minus 50 calories and it still gives you a thumbs up. That might account for the calorie difference between the two sites. That being said, I have my MFP set at 2 pounds a week, and sedentary/no work outs per week. I let the FB sync and I eat back the calories MFP gives me. I too have to get above 5000 steps before I start to see a big adjustment.
  13306345
December 17, 2012 9:19 PM
You have to be careful as it will be almost the same when they arent linked and/or you have endomodo syncing. What I also found is 'now' in recent weeks it keeps the same amount between the two. BUT if you unlink mfp it goes up a lot on fitbit. for me it's a 1000 calorie reduction for the 2 pounds a week. I'm looking at 1220 calories without exercise/adjustments.

Now things I've noticed that can mess things up, putting food into both, putting exercise into both, having both endomodo synced to mfp and fitbit (will translate the walking from the fitbit into a gain on mfp, in addition to it's adjustment. So you might have -40 from mfp and +60 from endomondo = +20 that really should be -40.)

Big thing is 5,000 steps on fitbit and 10 floors would have me at a net + of ~450 calories. On mfp it's only a 118 bonus. It gets exponentially worse, if I walk near 8-10K steps and over 20 floors forget it. It wants me eating over 2000 calories.

You really have to have it all setup right, and I think that is something that mfp is skipping out on telling people. Not to mention simple things like ignoring walking from endomondo would allow it to be used to auto add other exercises, like me doing 14 mi in 1 hour on my trainer for winter cycling training.
December 17, 2012 9:23 PM
Sidenote: Heart rate monitors are not a good inclination of how much your burning, depends on what you are doing and the algorithms used in the software. Like for cyclists endomodo will have me 700+ with just HRM and Strava will have me at 450-500 for the same exercise but I know for a fact (as I also have a power meter) that it's within 475-525. So strava wins.

Just food for thought, I always err on the pessimistic side as thats normally what is closer rather than just "fluff" for peoples minds.
December 17, 2012 9:30 PM
QUOTE:

Well, depends on what you mean by having my goal set to maintain -- whether you're talking about maintenance level for goal weight, or current weight. I have it set to my BMR for my current weight with my activity level set to sedentary, so that my fitbit/Digifit adjustments reflect my actual TDEE for the day.

I'd say it's working well for me, because it's really helped me see that if I want to have that 1000/day calorie deficit and still be able to eat 1300-1500 calories, I need to add exercise enough to burn an additional 200-400 calories every single day. Before, I was just happy that I was exercising more than I used to, so my average calorie deficit wasn't quite where I was aiming for. Now, any day that I'm not running I hop on my stationary bike while watching TV and stay on it for at least an hour. I don't try to make it into cardio on days where my legs need rest, just very light cycling to get some more calorie burn in, and I wear my HRM to get a good estimate.

After having stalled for about a month, the scale's finally moving again! Only 10.7 more lbs. till I hit ONEderland!


I'm glad that is working for you. One thing, your fitbit adjustment comes from mfp comparing your fitbit burn to your mfp "calories burned from normal activity". If you are set for sedentary, it is basically multiplying your bmr by 1.25 so it does include some activity not just your bmr and it would be using that number not your custom allowance to determine your adjustment. So, if you are considering your tdee to be your allowance + adjustment, that is actually a little lower than your sedentary burn + adjustment. But if it is working for you that is great. I hope it keeps working.
December 17, 2012 9:43 PM
This is something thats puzzled me for a while....do most have their calorie deficit set to 500 cals daily or 1000 cals daily? I have it set to 500 cals on MFP and fitbit with sedentry on MFP and personalised on fitbit...but im always a bit unsure if that will work so i never end up fully trusting fitbit (i prolly should just trial it for a few weeks eating the exercise calories and then see from there what results i get but id LOVE to know how others utilise it for results)
December 18, 2012 11:24 AM
QUOTE:

This is something thats puzzled me for a while....do most have their calorie deficit set to 500 cals daily or 1000 cals daily? I have it set to 500 cals on MFP and fitbit with sedentry on MFP and personalised on fitbit...but im always a bit unsure if that will work so i never end up fully trusting fitbit (i prolly should just trial it for a few weeks eating the exercise calories and then see from there what results i get but id LOVE to know how others utilise it for results)


I think it depends on how much weight you have to lose right now and how many calories you burn. A thousand calorie deficit a day would not allow me enough to eat so it isn't really an option for me. The more common 500 calorie deficit also puts me a little below the mfp minimum of 1200 but I think it is still an okay deficit for me most days. I don't think there is a one size fits all and it changes.

If you don't like to eat your exercise calories, I would think you should choose a smaller deficit as long as it allows you enough to eat. Then you could count your exercise as "bonus". If you want to do it that way, then I guess I would say a 250 calorie deficit or a 500 calorie deficit depending on how much you have to lose. MFP takes the deficit off your pre-exercise activity level (in your case listed as sedentary). So as long as that number is above 1200. That may be fine for some people but may be unhealthy for others, so I suppose pay attention to your body and how it responds. If you do a lot of exercise it might not work, but if it is a few moderate workouts a week it can work out to be the same as if you were set for a higher deficit. For example, if someone is set for a 250 calorie deficit, then they also burn 300 calories from exercise but choose not to eat those calories... Then they on paper have a 550 calorie deficit for the day. That is within the up to 1000 guideline, so if the 550 deficit allows them enough calories to take in their nutrition they are probably fine. But if you burn 1000 calories in exercise and then it would be a 1250 deficit--that is a little high.

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