Should you move more to lose weight? Should you even invest in a smart watch that can track how much you exercise – would that help you lose a few more pounds?
It sounds like a reasonable idea. But many studies have questioned how effective exercise really is for weight loss. So how about actually testing if it works?
In a new study, people in a weight-loss program were divided into two groups. One group was the control group. The other group was identical, with one addition: they got to use a wearable fitness tracker. This was to be worn on the wrist to help them track their exercise and hopefully lose more weight.
Unfortunately it did not work… instead it backfired in a spectacular way. Not only did the wearable fitness-tracker group fail to lose extra weight. While wearing it they actually GAINED about 5 additional pounds (2 kg) compared to the control group.
The negative effect of the fitness trackers on body weight was statistically highly significant.
- Science Daily: Activity trackers are ineffective at sustaining weight loss
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Effect of Wearable Technology Combined With a Lifestyle Intervention on Long-term Weight Loss
How is this possible? These trackers measure movement and can adjust one’s “allowed caloric intake” accordingly. Thus many people may feel they are allowed to eat more bad foods if they have exercised. This could possibly result in weight gain – given that exercise is not very effective for weight loss in the first place.
These fitness-tracker measurements may become a distraction to what’s really important: what you eat. Getting distracted from the most important thing sets people up to fail.
Are there smarter ways to lose weight? Most likely yes. Eat real low-carb foods, maybe do some intermittent fasting. While you’re doing that, feel free to exercise for health, fitness and wellness reasons – that’s great.
Just don’t believe that exercise will help you lose a major amount of weight.