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How do I track my calories, make a food plan, and set a weight goal?

Last updated: Jan 17, 2014 08:06PM

You can use the Fitbit.com dashboard to track not only your steps and activity but also the food that you eat. This article explains food plans and answers common questions about food logging, calorie counts, and weight goals.

What is a food plan?

  • A food plan is a dashboard tool that can help you achieve and maintain your weight goal.
  • By creating a food plan and logging your meals each day, you can track your progress towards an estimated date for your weight goal. This may be to decrease, increase, or maintain your current weight.
  • The food plan allows you to set a target date for achieving your weight goal and monitors your progress toward that goal based on caloric intake and burn.

How do I start a food plan?

  1. Log into your dashboard.
  2. Hover your mouse over either the Food Plan or Calories In vs. Out tile, and click the arrow icon in the lower right corner. This will take you to the food log.
  3. From this page, you can begin a food plan by clicking the Get Started button in the Food Plan section.
  4. You will be asked to enter your starting weight, your target weight, and your plan intensity. The varying intensities of plans will also display an estimated date for the completion of that goal.

How do I edit my food plan or weight goal?

  1. Log into your dashboard.
  2. Hover your mouse over either the Food Plan or Calories In vs. Out tile and click the gear icon in the lower left corner.
  3. Click the pencil icon next to Plan Intensity.
  4. Select your plan intensity from the pop-up window and click the arrows in the lower right corner until your Food Plan has been adjusted to your preferred amount. Your food plan will now be set accordingly.

How do I use my food plan?

Your food plan provides the following:

  • An estimate of your daily calorie consumption.
  • A readout of the number of calories you have burned and eaten so far in the day.
  • A real-time comparison of the calories you've consumed in your diet versus those you've burned through activity.
  • Dynamic feedback regarding whether you are under, within, or above your plan's recommendation.

In order to achieve an accurate calorie estimate, you will need to log all of the food you eat. As you log your food, your daily calorie estimate will constantly update to show how much you can still eat for the rest of the day while staying within your goal zone. As long as you are within 50 calories of your daily estimate when you log your last meal, you will have met your plan's recommendation for the day.

While your logged foods account for your caloric intake, the steps recorded by your Fitbit tracker and manually-logged activities on your dashboard will account for your caloric burn. As you walk and exercise through the day, your caloric allowance will adjust to let you know how much more you can eat while staying within your goal zone.

As with any fitness program, we recommend speaking with a doctor before starting your new plan.

How do I log food?

  1. Log into your dashboard.
  2. Hover your mouse over either the Food Plan or Calories In vs. Out tile, and click the arrow icon in the lower right corner. This will take you to the food log.
  3. From this page, you can log your meals by entering food descriptions and quantities along with the time they were consumed.

What do the acronyms in the food database mean?

The food database uses the following acronyms. Note that these terms are not added by Fitbit. They are applied by the FDA to the nutritional database we use, and are imported alongside the nutritional information.
  • CP  -- Commercially Prepared
  • HP -- Home Prepared
  • PAD -- Prepared As Directed
  • PFR -- Prepared From Recipe
  • RP -- Restaurant Prepared
  • RTB -- Ready To Bake
  • RTC -- Ready To Cook
  • RTE -- Ready To Eat
  • RTF -- Ready To Feed
  • RTH -- Ready To Heat
  • RTS -- Ready To Serve
  • SF -- Separable Fat
  • SLF -- Separable Lean and Fat
  • SLO -- Separable Lean Only

How do I change the language for my food database?

You can choose from which country you would like to populate your food database. This will affect the listings you see when logging food.

  1. Go to your account's Personal Info section and scroll down to your Preferences.
  2. You will see an option labeled Food Database. From the drop-down menu select the country you'd like to use for your food database.
  3. After selecting your preferred country, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Update Profile. Your food database will now reflect your preferred country.

How do I share foods with other users?

As a Fitbit user you can share food entries with any of your Fitbit friends, or with the whole Fitbit community if you'd like.

  • To share food with your friends, you'll need to make your food log visible to "friends" or "anyone" within your privacy settings. You can find your privacy settings by going to www.fitbit.com/user/profile/privacy.
  • From this screen, you can also choose to keep food entries private by choosing that they only be visible to you.

Any Fitbit user can view and log foods that another user has already logged, provided the permissions are set as described above. This is particularly useful if you shared a meal with a Fitbit friend, so that you don't have to both log the food independently of one another.

To log the foods that another user has shared with you:

  • Click your friend's profile picture from your Fitbit friends list.
  • Select the Food tab, then click on whichever food item you'd like to log. This will pull up nutritional information about that food item, along with a link labeled Log This Food to the right.
  • Click this button to add the food item to your own food log.
  • From here, you will see an option to edit the quantity and time, which can be used if one person ate more than the other or took some home for a snack.
  • After clicking Log, the item will be added to your Food Log.

What is BMR, and how does it affect my calorie count?

The calorie burn you are seeing is not just activity specific--it is a combination of calories burned related to the tracker's recorded data, any activities you log, and your estimated Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

 

Your BMR is the rate at which you burn calories at rest just to maintain vital body functions like breathing, heartbeat and brain activity. Your BMR usually accounts for at least half of the calories you burn in a day and is estimated based on the physical data you entered when you set up your account: gender, age, height and weight. Your profile and tracker use that data to configure your daily BMR.

Your tracker's calorie count will reset each night at midnight and begin counting up immediately thereafter. This is the reason that your tracker starts the day with calories already burned--even if you've not been active yet, you have still burned calories just by being alive. The purpose of this function is to provide a more comprehensive look at your daily activity and caloric intake.

What is a calorie deficit?

A calorie deficit exists when you've burned more calories than you've consumed in a given day. To achieve a weight loss goal, you should aim to have more calories burned than eaten each day.

If you have set a weight-loss goal you can choose the intensity of your food plan, which will in turn adjust your calorie deficit target.

Can I set a weight-gain goal?

At this time the dashboard only supports creating a goal for weight loss. While you are not able to set a goal to gain weight, you can continue to use these tools to monitor your caloric intake and aim for a calorie surplus instead of a deficit.

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