Is a Fitbit Really Worth It?

  • By Dr. Anand Thakkar
  • 16 Mar, 2016
Every week, another diet, gadget, or app appears that professes to help users lose weight in record time. Most people skim the information and move on, never thinking about the fad again. However, some weight loss fads, like the Fitbit and other fitness gadgets, gain traction. You probably know several people who own a Fitbit.

As you've watched your friends or family members use their Fitbit or other gadget, you've likely wondered if you should purchase one as well. But do these gadgets actually help you lose weight? And do they make enough of a difference to merit their price?

The answer? It depends.

The Pros and Cons of Fitness Gadgets

The Fitbit and other related devices can help you lose weight if numbers, lists, and schedules motivate you. For example, the Fitbit Charge and Surge offer the following trackers:

Steps, distance, and floors climbed
Minutes doing active exercise
Heart rate
Calories
Hours slept
The Surge also offers other perks, like texting, caller ID, music, and GPS tracking. So if you like numbers, Fitbits and other gadgets may help you lose weight. These devices also show you how much time you spend sitting and eating unhealthy foods, so that information may reveal bad habits you didn't know you had. Sometimes these realizations give you the motivation to stop sitting and get moving.

However, fitness devices do have their disadvantages:

Fitbits and other fitness technology often cost $100 or more.
If you don't have a smartphone, your fitness device has nothing to sync to. You'll have to buy a smartphone in addition to your gadget, making you spend hundreds of dollars more. However, because most Americans have smartphones, they won't have this problem.
If numbers don't motivate you, the device may irritate or discourage you instead. You may feel more motivated when you feel your body become stronger or see your waistline shrink.
Some devices, especially the ones you wear on your wrist, don't calculate your steps or distance correctly, so they can't accurately track the calories you've burned. Devices worn around the waist tend to track steps and distance better. Smartphone apps rank a close second.
If you don't care about exact accuracy and you have a little extra spending money, a Fitbit could help you lose weight. However, before you purchase this device, consider using other trackers. You might not have to spend money at all if you download some cheap (or even free) apps instead.

The Pros and Cons of Fitness Apps

Some apps track just as accurately as or more accurately than fitness devices. You won't have to buy or wear an additional gadget, and you'll still get all the same weight loss benefits. Again, these apps will only help you if numbers keep you motivated. Check out some of 2015's best weight loss apps below.

1. Lose It!

This app comes free with in-app purchases. It allows you to set a goal weight, and it gives you access to a food database that keeps track of your calories. It also connects to other apps like RunKeeper so you can keep track of all your fitness data. You can also use it to make goals with friends and create challenges and contests if competition motivates you more than numbers.

2. Pact

Does money motivate you? This free app may cost you money in the long run if you don't keep up with your weight loss goals. When you use this app, you create an agreement or "pact" that you will run so many miles, eat so many veggies, etc. You set a price on the pact between 30 cents and five dollars, and you have to meet your goal, or the app will pull the price you set from your bank account.

3. Nike+ Training Club

Maybe schedules and programs motivate you. This app allows you to choose a workout or month-long program to help you reach your goal weight. This app transfers to your tablet and your TV as well, so you can use a larger screen to follow exercise routines. You won't have to pay any money to purchase this app either.

4. iPhone Health App

If your device supports iOS 8, then it can have this free health app. The app tracks your weight loss progress and activity levels through a step tracker, stair tracker, heart rate monitor, and more. Essentially, this app does almost everything a Fitbit does, and you won't have to pay any money to use it.

A Fitbit can help you lose weight depending on your personality and your motivation. However, some people may find that an app or even a written tracker motivates them better. Find the option that works best for you. And if you have any further questions about diet, exercise, and other medical considerations, check out the rest of our blog or contact a weight loss specialist in your area.
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