Best Calorie Tracker Review 2017
updated February 7, 2017
In the never ending quest to fight the battle of the bulge, monitoring your calories is a crucial line of defense. Losing body fat, after all, is simply a matter of caloric balance. If you burn more than you take in you will lose weight. That’s why counting calories is so important. Most of us have no idea how many calories we’re consuming or burning. As a result, we are taking in way too many - and paying the price by way of excess fat storage.
All of which makes the addition of a calorie counting function to fitness tracking capability a no brainer. The problem with conventional calorie counting is that it is a major hassle. In fact, it’s so time consuming that most people don’t do it. Having a system to track your caloric intake that operates on auto-pilot would make life for the calorie conscious (and that should be all of us) so much simpler.
In this article, we’ll go in search of the most accurate calorie counter on the market today. We’ll also delve into the vexing question of just how accurate heart rate monitor calorie counters really are.
Our Top 3 picks for calorie trackers in 2017
Reliable and provides Relative
accuracy of data.
Sleep Monitoring Function
Goal Assessment Capability
Pair with Heart Rate Monitor
Gives you most accurate calorie
Data Storage & Rating
Store your data for 16 days
2nd best after FitBit Flex.
Provides accurate measure of caloric
expenditure while exercising.
Prevents being inactive
for too long.
How Does The Calorie Counting Function Work?
The Fitness Tracker that you wear on your wrist does all of its magic on the basis of motion sensors. Most of the data produced is based on your step count. When it comes to calories burned, however, more is needed than that. That’s why most calorie burn calculator watches will require you to add in extra details such as your age, weight, gender and height. Each app will then use its own algorithm as the basis for determining your calorie count.
Clearly the more sensors and data points a fitness calorie tracker has, the more accurate its caloric count will be. The best ones will also be able to take an accurate reading of your heart rate, as this is an essential factor in calculating your calorie burn. The most accurate devices, then, will monitor both heart rate and calories burned.
How Accurate are the Best Heart Rate Monitor and Calorie Counters
Most people who go to the gym are well aware how inaccurate the calorie counter on the treadmill or life stepper are. That is why many of them invest in a fitness tracker that has a built-in calorie function. They realize how important it is to monitor the calories they’re burning during their workout, and they want a device that is going to give them that number as accurately as possible.
Unfortunately, recent research reveals that your fitness tracker may be just as inaccurate as the treadmill. A study out of Iowa State University had 30 men and 30 women wear 8 different fitness trackers with calorie counting functions as they completed a 69 minute workout. The session included 13 different activities, ranging from typing at a computer keyboard to playing on a Wii to playing basketball.
In addition to wearing the commercial calorie trackers on the fitness bands on their arms, the study participants were also fitted with a metabolic analyzer to give a very accurate record of their caloric consumption.
The results showed that the difference in caloric readings between the commercial devices and the metabolic analyzer were up to 23.5%. The most accurate device measured was the Body Media FIT fitness tracker.
Here is a rundown of the top performers with their percentage of inaccuracy in brackets:
The head researcher on the study, kinesiology professor Gregory Welk, made the following comment:
People buy these activity monitors assuming they work, but some of them are not that accurate or have never been tested before. These companies just produce a nice-looking device with a fancy display and people buy it.
When it comes to accurately counting calories, the majority of fitness watch calorie counters will do a far better job of recording your pure aerobic work, such as running, than your resistance workouts. However there are a range of new monitors emerging onto the market that do a better job of tracking calories during strength training.
With other research indicating that most people tend to grossly over- estimate the number of calories they burn through exercise, it is important to get as accurate a reading of expended calories as possible. Yet, according to Professor Welk, so long as the reading is within 10-15% accuracy, it can still be a useful measure.
The validity is probably not as important as the usability and utility for an individual user. If the device helps to prompt and nudge behavior, then it is doing its job.
The Professor added some pertinent advice for calorie trackers in order to maintain balance....
A person shouldn’t only worry about counting calorie intake or expenditure since it becomes too difficult and cumbersome. Learning to pay attention to cues such as hunger can help to avoid overeating, and trying to get some physical activity is a simple strategy for energy expenditure.
The Best Calorie Counter Reviews
Becoming the number one selling calorie counting fitness tracking device on Amazon doesn’t come about by chance. In the case of FitBit Flex, it is because of the reliability and relative accuracy of the data it provides. As well as all the fitness tracking modes that you’d expect from the world’s leading supplier of fitness tracking wearables, the Flex will give you a custom estimate of calories burned on the basis of the personal information you input into the device.
In addition to showing your calorie consumption, the FitBit Flex has a very good sleep monitoring function and a goal assessment capability. This is a great choice for people who are new to the fitness wearable market from a company with a reputation for standing behind their product. We believe that the FitBit Flex is the best calorie tracker on the market today.
To get the most accurate calorie counter measure possible you need to pair your device with an accurate heart rate monitor. Most fitness trackers will have heart rate sensors built into the wrist device. A far more accurate heart rate measure can be achieved by using a chest strap. The Polar RS 300X is one of the few devices that has this functionality. The result is a very accurate calorie counting function.
The Polar RS 300X will store your data for 16 days. It also allows you to designate personal sports zones to enable you to perform your workout at just the right level of intensity. We rate the Polar RS200X as the second best calorie tracker out there, behind the FitBit Flex.
The Garmin VivoFit 2 has the huge advantage of GPS technology to provide you with a more accurate measure of your caloric expenditure while exercising. In addition the VivoFit 2 has personal goals that sale up according to your improved level of performance. It also features a move reminder to prevent you from being inactive for too long. Another huge plus with this device is that it comes with an impressive one year battery life.
The VivoFit 2 is an extremely stylish wearable fitness monitor that packs a lot of accurate features into a very affordable fitness watch.
To discover the best basic pedometer fitness monitor / sports watches of 2017, check out our top 10 list here.
As the world’s largest sporting goods company, Nike like to do things their own way. When it comes to the fitness monitor calorie counting function, doing things the Nike way means using a whole new measure of energy expenditure. Rather than calorie count they refer to it as ‘Nike Fuel’.
According to the company promotional material, Nike Fuel is “a universal way to measure movement for all kinds of activities.”
Despite this different calculation basis, the Nike Fuel does a good job of recording your fuel consumption, even if we have to put faith in the brand, because we don’t really know what a Nike Fuel calculation is comprised of. The Nike+ Fuelband SE uses pace, distance and laps to calculate your energy expenditure. In doing so, it is not overly accurate when you are performing resistance training or Crossfit type exercises.
MisFit have captured the more stylish, upmarket corner of the fitness tracker market with a range of minimalistic devices that are equally suitable for the gym or a dinner party. The Shine is made from aircraft grade aluminum and features an impressive array of tracking features to provide a very good measure of your overall health.
The MisFit Shine is one of very view fitness tracker calorie counter watches that will track your calories consumed as well as those expended. It does this by way of a novel ‘daily photo food journal’ feature. This allows you to know what your daily caloric balance is. By calculating whether you’ve burned more calories than you have consumed in the day, you will know whether you are burning off body fat or not.
Timex are an iconic watch brand. They have brought their expertise to the sports watch market to offer a very accurate heart rate and calorie counting device in the IronMan Road Trainer. It allows you to record your recovery, peak heart rate, as well your calories consumed.
The Men’s IronMan Road Trainer is one of the most accurate calorie burn calculator watches you will find in the current marketplace. It uses such advanced technology as cross talk elimination to provide as accurate data as possible. This sports watch is packed with features to accurately monitor your sports performance, which is probably why it has been described as the ‘Swiss army knife’ of sports watches. As with most calorie counters, however, it is more accurate on the road than in the weight room.
The JawBone UP 3 is packed with more sensors than nearly any other fitness tracker on the market. That makes it a very reliable device to track your caloric burn. The UP 3 collates sensor data about your weight, intensity of movement and workout duration to provide a very accurate calorie tracker.
With the JawBone UP 3, however, there’s more to the story than simply tracking the number of calories you burn. It also features an easy to use food log that allows you to input your calories consumed. It even provides you with a barcode scanner and the ability to input photos of your meal, portion sizes and add you own nutritional data to allow the tracker to get attuned to your eating habits.
The UP 3 will even give each of your meals a rating so you can see how healthy your caloric intake is.
The Basis Peak is a high end sports watch. It’s the most expensive calorie tracker on our top ten list, but also the most accurate. In addition to counting your calories, the Basis Peak will monitor your heart rate. Even though it doesn’t use a chest strap heart rate monitor, the optical sensors that are built into the device are more accurate than what you find on most other devices. This precise heart rate reading feeds through to provide you with a more accurate calorie count.
The Basis Peak comes with a whole host of other exciting features, including a ‘habit assessment’ functioning and automatic sleep quality scoring.
The Polar FT4 brands itself as a heart rate monitor, yet it does far more than that. It has an accurate calorie counter that can actually be plugged in many of the cardio machines at your local gym for a more accurate reading.
The Polar FT4 comes with a comfortable chest strap to give you the most accurate heart rate reading possible. It’s also water proof. For the features and accuracy, this is possibly the best calorie tracker you will find in the current market.
The Garmin VivoFit Jr is a fitness and calorie / activity tracker that is especially designed for children. Kids between the ages of 5 and 13 can use this cool watch to help build the healthy habits that will last a lifetime. It comes with a cool vibrant colors and designs, and allows your youngster to set her own activity goals and work systematically towards their attainment. It is also compatible with Smartphone technology. The calorie counter is not overly accurate, but it will give your child a good ball-park figure of how much energy they are expending. There is even a parental personal assistant.
What is the Best Calorie Counting App?
When it comes to tracking what you’re eating, there aren’t too many wrist wearable devices that are able to provide a decent service. While there are notable exceptions, such as the MisFit Shine, your best bet right now is to use a Smartphone app to track your caloric intake. Here are the best ones that are out there . . .
Lose It allows you to log in foods as well as scanning them with the barcode. As well as keeping track of your breakfast, lunch and dinner, it will break down your macronutrients. There are a range of challenges you can choose from. Lose It also have a vibrant, active social community.
This is a simple calorie counting app. It does, however, feature a recipe function. It also has a lot of nutrition information to educate you about healthy eating right on the app.
Fooducate has a reliable basic calorie counter. Their main focus, however, is, as the name implies, on educating you about healthy food choices. They have an active community who are proactive about supporting one another in their goal pursuits.
MyFitnessPal is very popular, and for good reason. It will connect with nearly every fitness device out there, making it very user friendly in a range of settings. A major plus with this app is that it can get very specific with the goals that you want to achieve. It can drill down and get extremely detailed on different elements of your health and fitness.
The app is very comprehensive, with a huge community of active users.
MyPlate is an extremely simply calorie counting app. The layout is clear and easy to follow. It will accurately calculate your calories and your macros without any bells and whistles. You can also log your exercise and water in this app.
Tracking your calories is a key element of successful fitness and weight management. The calorie counting technology for wearable sports watches and fitness monitors is still in its infancy. There are still accuracy issues to sort out, as indicated by the Iowa University study. Our list of the best calories burned trackers of 2018 will allow you to side step the inaccurate models out there in favor of the most reliable devices on the current market.