Is Your Fitness Tracker Really Making You Fat?

Posted On Aug 14, 2014 By Tom Holland

How Fitness Trackers Impact Weight Gain

Yes, it's true. You may have seen in the news recently that some people are blaming their activity trackers for weight gain. They start using the band and, remarkably, the scale starts moving up instead of down.

The band is to blame? Really?

It's analogous to saying that you bought a treadmill and, lo and behold, using the treadmill actually caused you to pack on the pounds rather than shed them. Is the treadmill truly the culprit?

And yes, there are people who actually gain weight while training for marathons and triathlons. I've trained many people over the years and some of them have seen weight increases. Crazy, right? Should they hold the race [or me?] accountable?

The phenomenon of weight gain despite increased exercise happens, but more often than not for one simple reason:

Reward eating.

Also referred to as "subsequent snacking" and "compensatory eating," the more people exercise, the more they tend to reward themselves with food afterwards.

In a recent study, two groups of women went for a 1-mile walk. Members of one group were told it was exercise, while those in the other group wore iPods and were told they were going to do a "fun activity" and rate the music as they walked.

Both did the same exact activity, but the group that was told it was exercise? Well, those folks ate 35 percent more pudding for dessert than those who were told they were taking a fun walk.

In similar experiment the participants who were told they were exercising ate 206 more calories from M&Ms than those in a group who were told they were "sightseeing."

The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. Weight gain comes from being in a positive rather than negative energy balance — you take in more energy than you expend.

So don't blame your fitness tracker if your body fat starts going up instead of down. Blame the Ben & Jerry's.

I also tackle this topic in my new book, "Swim, Bike, Run – Eat: The Complete Guide to Fueling Your Triathlon."

Check out the complete study online.