Calorie Burn adjustments from FitBit to MFP christinecouts — Jan 03, 2017 10:07AM PST
Yesterday I worked out two times. I don't review these workouts in steps but I'm monitoring my heart rates and FitBit tabulates my calories burned on that basis. MFP edited me 881 calories yesterday. My first workout at 5:50am I burned 607 calories per FitBit; my second workout at 7:17pm I burned 732 calories per FitBit, that's a total of 1339 calories burned yesterday. So, I need to understand the whole calorie adjustment formula (seriously, like what is the equation) - and what is the basis of adjusting the calories that way. Just want to be clear. I realize all of those tools are for guidance and not necessarily 100% accurate. However, I'm the numbers girl that needs to understand at least how it works. Thanks.
1 Community Answers
Maximiliano MyFitnessPal Agent Jan 03, 2017 12:12PM PST
Linking MyFitnessPal to Fitbit brings more accuracy to your daily calorie goal and can help motivate you and keep you on track with your health and fitness goals. But a clear understanding of how our two services work with each other is the first step in that process.
Time Zone Settings
Be sure that your time zone settings are the same in your MyFitnessPal and Fitbit profiles. If our sites have a different idea about when your day is over, you’ll see some strange behavior at the end of the day.
Please make sure to log your food only on MyFitnessPal and not also on Fitbit. MyFitnessPal will transfer a total of calories and nutrients for each meal to your Fitbit account.
You will no longer need to manually enter step-based exercises on MyFitnessPal that the Fitbit excels at tracking: for example, walking, jogging, and hiking. However, for exercises that the Fitbit cannot track, such as swimming or rowing, you will need to manually log those activities in your MyFitnessPal diary.
Once you integrate with Fitbit, manually logged exercises on MyFitnessPal will request the start time of the exercise. Please make sure to record the correct time for those exercises so Fitbit can properly account for them.
Additional Activity Apps
Please note, you can also have other integration partners connected to your MyFitnessPal account, as long as they are not also all-day trackers such as Jawbone or Bodymedia. Just make sure your other activity tracking apps are not linked to both your MyFitnessPal and Fitbit accounts. We recommend linking them only to MyFitnessPal.
Fitbit Calorie Adjustment
Now the tricky part for many new MyFitnessPal/Fitbit users: understanding the Fitbit adjustment. Fitbit does not send your activity to MyFitnessPal as a series of separate cardio exercises. Rather, Fitbit monitors your activity all day long, and calculates the calories your movements are burning.
Every time you sync your Fitbit device, Fitbit updates your calorie usages to MyFitnessPal.
At MyFitnessPal, we already have an estimate of the amount of calories you will need for the day, based on your profile information, and the general activity level you selected (lightly active, very active, etc). When Fitbit tells us how many calories you are on track to burn by the end of the day, MyFitnessPal updates your calorie goal to keep you on track for your targeted weight loss (or weight gain).
This update appears in your diary as a Calorie Adjustment. The details of the adjustment’s calculation can be viewed online by clicking the “i” on the adjustment line, or within the app by tapping on the adjustment. It’s important to understand that this adjustment will increase or decrease over the course of the day, if you are more or less active. A period of high activity will result in an increase to your adjustment. If this is followed by a restful period, your next sync will lower your adjustment. To get the most accurate total, it is important to wear and sync your Fitbit as much as possible through the course of the day. It is also important to sync later in the evening, as your evening calculation will be the most precise, because it contains the most recorded activity data. At first you may find that your adjustment drops unexpectedly overnight. This is because of inactivity and sleep in the last hours of the day. You’ll soon become accustomed to these small variations. We recommend aiming to come in slightly below your food goal in your last meal, as your adjustment may decrease a bit by the time the day ends at midnight.
By default MyFitnessPal will only add calories to your calorie goal, based on increased activity from Fitbit. However, for even more accuracy, you may opt to let Fitbit remove calories from your goal, if you are less active than usual. If you do not opt in to these “negative” calorie adjustments, you may see a “zero” adjustment in your diary for part of the day. The zero indicates that we are receiving calorie data from Fitbit, but tells you that you have not yet been active enough to earn more calories than your baseline MyFitnessPal food goal.
If you would like to allow for the negative adjustment option (which may take away calories from your MyFitnessPal goal until you increase your activity during the day) you can do so by visiting our full website at http://www.myfitnesspal.com in a web browser. Once you’re logged in, click “Settings” then “Diary Settings” and check the “Enable Negative Adjustments” checkbox. Please make sure to update the change at the bottom of the page.
If you’re not sure if you should turn on Negative Adjustments, this article contains some advice on the subject
Verifying the Adjustment
You can verify that the correct data is being transferred after any Fitbit sync, by viewing the detail screen for your adjustment. If you look under the Fitbit adjustment you will see that it is based on a number of calories burned as of the time of the last sync. This number should be the same as the number showing on your Fitbit Dashboard. Please note it may take up to 15 minutes for MyFitnessPal to show the last sync, so the numbers may vary slightly due to this delay.
Also if you have started using the new Steps feature on your iOS device, please make sure Fitbit has been elected as the main Steps source (as you can only use one Step tracker in the program at a time). To do this, go to the Menu (or “More” screen), then Settings, then Steps, and make sure Fitbit only has a check next to it.
A Deeper Dive
A more complex understanding of the adjustment is this. When you first join MyFitnessPal, we ask you for your weight, height, age, gender, and your normally daily activity level. We then use all this information to provide you with your daily goals based on the information you provided. However, since these goals are based on an “average” activity level, the goal is an estimate. The MyFitnessPal calorie goal is accurate enough to allow you to meet your weight management goals, but since we don’t track your every movement, we can’t update your goal unless you log manual exercise.
The Fitbit is designed to give you a more precise account for your personal daily activity level. When you originally choose your activity level on MyFitnessPal, you may think that you are an “active” person. MyFitnessPal will then automatically give you goals based on what an average active person may burn through the course of the day. However, if you are wearing a Fitbit, that average may change based on your actual activity level. You may not be as active as an average person, or you may be more active.
If you are not as active as the original activity level you chose, then you will see a zero adjustment, unless you have opted in to Negative Adjustments, in which case you’ll see calories removed from your daily goal.
For example, MyFitnessPal may have given you a daily goal of 1700 calories based on your profile information, but activity recorded by your Fitbit may result in a projection that you will only burn 1600 by the end of the day. MyFitnessPal will now either give you no adjustment and keep your calories at 1700, or if you chose to allow negative adjustments, it will deduct 100 calories from your daily goal to bring your goal in line with data from Fitbit.