Is Fitbit Calories Burned Accurate? [Explained!]
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When you invest your hard-earned money in a Fitbit, you want to know that its key features – such as the calorie counter – are, in fact, accurate. This question has been on the minds of buyers since the Fitbit debuted all the way back in September of 2009. At the time, the Fitbit was the leading pioneer in this type of technology, achieving success within its first few years.
Table of Contents
- Is Fitbit Calories Burned Accurate? [Explained!]
- Are Fitbit calories accurate when it comes to burning them?
- Are some Fitbit models more accurate than others?
- Fitness Trackers: An Imperfect Science
- How does the Fitbit track calories burned?
- Do other brands track calories burned better than Fitbit?
- Is it even worth it to use a Fitbit?
- Closing Thoughts
Is Fitbit Calories Burned Accurate? [Explained!]
No fitness tracker is precise in its tracking of calories burned, but the Fitbit is probably one of the better in terms of accuracy. Fitbits only underestimated calorie burning by 4 percent but overestimated calories burned by 50 percent.
Therefore, it depends on activities performed as well as which Fitbit model you are using to track calories burned.
While no fitness tracker is 100 percent accurate when it comes to counting calories, it is probably just as good as everything else on the market these days, if not better due to how long Fitbit has had to perfect its calorie counting technology.
As it turns out, the calories burned tracker has been scientifically studied for its degree of accuracy.
What exactly did those researchers discover in their endeavors? And might some Fitbit models actually be more accurate than others? I was curious about this when I was in the market for a Fitbit, so I started digging into the research that has been done on the Fitbit as well as some of its top competitors.
Let me share with you what I discovered about the Fitbit’s accuracy when it comes to counting all those calories you burn.
Are Fitbit calories accurate when it comes to burning them?
When the Fitbit Charge 2 was studied, it showed that activities matter in terms of accuracy.
Calories burned while running were much more accurate than those burned while walking.
This study also assessed some of the cheaper fitness trackers that were on the market and found that those results were actually reversed.
So, as it stands, the Fitbit is just about as accurate as anything else out there right now.
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Are some Fitbit models more accurate than others?
The Fitbit Surge has an error rate of about 25 percent, which makes it one of the most accurate fitness trackers out there.
Other Fitbits do a little worse, and other fitness trackers can be off by up to 93 percent.
Some of the Apple Watches come close to matching the Fitbit Surge, but they too have their issues with not correctly assessing calorie burning.
As it turns out, this is an imperfect science.
Let me explain why.
Fitness Trackers: An Imperfect Science
If fitness trackers are so expensive to buy, why aren’t they a lot more accurate when it comes to things like counting calories burned? Well, these trackers can only give you an estimate of how many calories you are burning while doing a certain activity.
Every single one of these devices is built with its own algorithm that factors in a lot of different things that impact calorie burning.
Based on these factors, the fitness tracker can only give you an estimate of how many calories you are able to burn while exercising.
They cannot give you a definitive, error-free count – and not even the treadmill at your gym can do that.
There is always margin for error.
How does the Fitbit track calories burned?
The Fitbit looks at multiple factors when it tracks your burned calories.
From your basal metabolic rate to your heart rate while performing an activity, there are multiple components that get taken into consideration.
Your Body’s Basal Metabolic Rate
How many calories are you burning to maintain your body’s most basic functions? This is referred to as your basal metabolic rate.
It is different for everyone and takes into account age, biological sex, height, and weight.
Since our BSRs are all a bit different, this can skew the way fitness trackers track calories burned.
We don’t all burn calories the same way and all have different fitness levels.
Some of us even have fitness levels that vary by the day!
Heart Rate, Exercise, and Movement
Tracking your body’s motion is also not a perfect science, which contributes to the degree of error.
For example, if you’re pushing your shopping cart through the store, the Fitbit might not even register that as walking although you are clearly taking steps and burning some calories.
However, when you even slightly adjust your watch, the Fitbit might interpret this motion as a full body movement and miscalculate.
Do other brands track calories burned better than Fitbit?
A lot of the cheaper fitness trackers on the market do not seem to do as well as the Fitbit at tracking burned calories from running.
But the fact that they handle walking much better indicates that you don’t necessarily have to spend more to get more.
However, the Fitbit is known for being more durable, plus it equips more functions and features than these cheaper models.
Is it even worth it to use a Fitbit?
If you don’t have much room in your budget, consider getting a slightly older Fitbit.
Fitbits are pretty good on the whole, and you can find ways to save money on getting one.
Having any fitness tracker can be helpful for tracking core components of your workout, so don’t toss out the idea of having a Fitbit just yet.
Fitbits aren’t foolproof, and they do have some errors in accurately tracking calories you burn.
There are cheaper models that might do a better job but don’t really offer as many other features or are as sturdy.
Calorie burn counting isn’t an exact science on any device, but the Fitbit probably comes about as close as you can get as far as fitness trackers are concerned.