How Accurate Are Fitbit Calories?

Fitbit is a popular brand of fitness trackers. These tools are great for measuring heart rate, how many calories you’ve burnt, and how many steps you’ve taken throughout the day.

How Accurate Are Fitbit Calories?

These devices are common among pro-athletes as well as amateurs or just those that enjoy a nice walk in the park.

The data is recorded on a watch-shaped device and can be accessed via the watch screen alongside a smartphone application.

There are many different models all with a range of extensive features. Generally, the more expensive the device the more features you get with it. 

If you own one of these devices or are looking to purchase one, you may be interested in knowing how accurate certain aspects of the device are.

Here we will answer the question of how accurate the Fitbit calorie counters are. 

How Do I Tell How Many Calories I’ve Burnt?

The Fitbit app shows you a full health statistic report, which includes your approximate calorie burn.

When looking at the screen of your Fitbit device, you will see a number of symbols that all have different meanings.

The number of calories burned is indicated by a flame or fire symbol. 

What Goes Into The Calorie Calculation?

Fitbit devices are designed to measure your basal metabolic rate (BMR), this is the rate at which you burn calories at rest to maintain your vital body functions such as heartbeat, blood circulation, and breathing.

The BMR is combined with your activity data to estimate how many calories you’ve burned throughout the day. 

Certain Fitbit devices also track your heart rate, if so, this data is also used to measure your calorie burn rate.

This is especially true if you’ve burned a lot of calories when exercising. 

The physical data you input into your Fitbit account such as your height, weight, sex, and age are used to calculate your BMR, which actually counts for at least half of the calories you burn in a day.

Calories can be burned when asleep or inactive, so you may notice the numbers changing throughout the day. 

How To Make Sure Your Fitbit Activity Rates Are Accurate 

To ensure the utmost accuracy with your Fitbit device, there are a number of things you can do to make it run correctly. 

  1. Wearing the device correctly, either on top of your wrist like you would a watch or in the clip that can be attached to your clothes will ensure a more accurate reading. Wearing on your non-dominant wrist also helps to give a more accurate heart rate reading. 
  2. If you’re switching between the two positions, update the Wrist setting in the Fitbit app to tell your device on which area it’s collecting data from. When wearing it on your wrist, make sure it’s comfortable but not too tight or too loose to get an accurate reading. 
  3. When you first set up your device, ensure that the physical data you enter is correct. This also applies to any changes, such as weight. We’re pretty sure that height doesn’t fluctuate too much. 
  4. Depending on which device you have, you can use the exercise app to track your workouts as well as allow you to see your real-time heart-rate data. This data will help to provide a more accurate reading of your energy expenditure. This data enables more accurate measurement of how many calories you have burnt when exercising. Activities such as spinning where step count may not be a true reflection of your intensity level are great for this purpose. 
  5. When we walk, our arms tend to swing back and forth as we move. This is how the device counts steps taken. When using both or one hand for activities such as walking a dog or pushing a stroller or piece of equipment, try using the GPS settings to better calculate how far you’ve traveled and the associated calories. 

How Accurate Are The Fitbit Calorie Counters?

How Accurate Are Fitbit Calories?

Over the years, there have been a number of Fitbit models for a range of different purposes. As they are all slightly different, the calorie burn counter will also vary.

The newer and more expensive models of Fitbit have been found to be more accurate than their older and less expensive counterparts. 

Some of the newest models like the Charge 5 have been found to be one of the most accurate cal counters on the market.

More basic models that don’t have in-built GPS features have been found to be less accurate.

Another issue with fitness trackers is that they can overestimate the energy expenditure, not just underestimate it.

No Fitbit model claims to offer its user 100% accuracy.

A 2017 study found the Fitbit Surge has an error rate of around 25% while the Fitbit Charge 2 was found to be more accurate when users were running compared to those walking. 

Many studies have found a similar pattern, with activity level being most accurately tracked when doing moderate to vigorous exercise.

This is somewhat comforting as the majority of Fitbit users will have purchased their devices in order to track their exercises and energy expenditure. 

Overall, as fitness tracking devices go the Fitbit range tends to be reliable and accurate.

Research found the Fitbit Surge and the Charge 5 to be the most accurate models for energy expenditure when compared to similar fitness tracking devices.

If you are wanting a device that tracks your walks, make sure to buy a Fitbit with in-built GPS. 

Final Thoughts

There are always going to be issues when it comes to technology, we just have to learn to do our best with the tools we have.

On the whole, Fitbit is a widely popular and respected brand of fitness tracking devices, which operates to a good degree of accuracy.

Follow our top tips to ensure you’re using your Fitbit to its fullest potential.

We hope you found this article helpful and interesting in identifying how accurate a Fitbit calorie counter is. 

Jenna Priestly