The Survey Says, Track Your Calories

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What's better and more productive for losing weight...tracking calories or exercising?

The Survey Says, Track Your Calories
Sometimes it's a hot debate and sometimes people don't even think about it, but when trying to lose weight is it better to be counting calories or exercising to create a calories deficit? According to The Activity Exchange, it is more productive to count calories than exercise for losing weight. How did they figure that out?

The Activity Exchange examined data from over 185,000 users* on various apps or devices and found it might be a better investment to get a food tracking app, "like MyNetDiary," than a $100 "Fitbit or Jawbone device." The reason is that the food tracking app gives a "more holistic picture of a person," according to The Activity Exchange, whereby users will not only count calories but connect their activities and their weight (via Withings) so there are multiple data points on a person as opposed to just one (i.e. calories burned).

The magic number, according to the survey is three. When members who logged their calorie intake three times a day they lost, on average, 20 pounds over the course of a year. To achieve the same results via exercise, users had to exercise, on average, five days a week to lose 20 pounds. The survey also found that if users logged their foods just two to four weeks, they would start seeing results.

As noted in a recent MyNetDiary blog, those who are very active can easily over-compensate by eating an excess of calories, thus not losing weight. The reason is the disconnect between what calories "look like," so to speak. The calories in one small scoop of ice cream are also the calories burned by taking 1,000 steps. Therefore, when people track what they consume it is easier for them to control their calories instead of eating whatever but exercising hard.

Another recommendation from Activity Exchange (and a good one!) is that losing weight is not a fast process, and the figure of 20 pounds lost per year should adjust people's expectations for weight loss.

Tell us, have you been more successful counting calories or tracking exercise? Do you see a difference?

MyNetDiary does not provide data to Activity Exchange or any other organization. We take your privacy seriously. Members included in this survey provided their own data at will.

Tracking & MyNetDiary->Tracking Benefits
Jul 10, 2014
Ryan Newhouse - health writer, MyNetDiary

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