If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, or simply wanted to improve a habit or two, you’re probably no stranger to the fact that sticking with a new, healthier lifestyle is not always easy. It takes planning, commitment, motivation, and a sincere desire to achieve the outcomes you want.
Sustaining motivation while losing weight takes awareness of what you’re eating and drinking, how you’re moving your body, and how your body is responding to these changes. Because of this, more and more people are turning to digital health trackers to assist with tracking their weight loss journey.
With an estimated 10,000 commercially-available digital products targeting diet and weight loss alone – and with as many as one in five adults now wearing activity trackers in the United States – these tools offer simple, affordable, and convenient alternatives to traditional methods like taking pen to paper or in-house counseling.
The perks of using a digital health tracker
Digital health tracking devices are seemingly everywhere these days. A booming global $195 billion industry expected to grow 16% each year, digital health technologies are rapidly making their mark as practical solutions to help people stay healthy.
Digital health technology such as diet-tracking websites, smartphone apps, digital scales, and wearable devices are shown to be especially helpful for those who want to lose weight, and offer several distinct advantages over conventional weight loss approaches.
For starters, unlike the more time-consuming and labor-intensive paper and pencil recording methods, digital tracking happens instantly, making frequent monitoring conveniently available. Also, many trackers feature built-in nutrition databases that take all the guesswork out of tracking your food’s nutrients. And many trackers are free or low-cost, portable, and engaging while providing the user real-time performance-based feedback.
Digital health tracking in action: what the research shows
Emerging evidence reveals that closely tracking weight-loss efforts with digital health trackers can lead to some big results. A 2021 Stanford systematic review recently highlighted this finding when it evaluated the results of 39 randomized controlled trials between 2009 and 2019 with weight loss interventions for 8,232 adults with overweight and obesity. The trials spanned 3 to 24 months, and of the trials that used digital health self-monitoring, 72% were used to track weight, 81% were used to track diet, and 82% were used to track physical activity.
Analyzing the results collectively, the researchers found that overall, self-monitoring led to greater weight loss in 74% of cases. Specifically, 80% of cases saw greater weight loss when diet was monitoring, while 73% of cases experienced greater weight loss when physical activity was tracked.
A recent Duke University study further confirmed the benefit of digital tracking use for weight loss, reviewing the weight loss outcomes of 105 adults with overweight or obesity who wanted to lose weight by improving their diet. The participants weren’t given any dietary guidelines to follow but were each asked to use a free app to log their daily metrics for three months.
The participants were divided into three groups: the first group used the app to log their daily weight and food and beverage intake, the second group used the app to only track their weight for the first month and then log their food and drinks and weight for the next two months, and the third group used the app to only log their food and drink intake.
The first and second groups also received personalized emails, feedback, and action plans, along with weekly lessons on behavior change, while the third group did not. Weight loss was then assessed among all three groups after three and six months.
Interestingly, all three groups achieved significant weight loss at three months, with the first group losing an average of 6.06 lbs, the second losing 5.89 lbs, and the third losing 5.36 lbs.
The first group – the group that monitored both weight and diet throughout the trial – went on to show even more weight loss at six months. Altogether, the results suggest that even though weight loss may be maximized when both daily weight and diet are monitored, using an app can be an effective approach for losing weight regardless of when diet is tracked.
It also appears that people who are successful at losing weight may be much more likely to use a digital tracking device to help them keep their weight off, according to another study. In the study, 1,000 adults in the National Weight Control Registry who successfully maintained a 30 lb weight loss for longer than a year were asked whether they still used digital health technology for self-monitoring and, if so, how frequently. Their answers were compared to the responses of 3,014 subjects who were interviewed as part of a Pew Tracking for Health Survey to represent the American population.
The researchers found that those who maintained their weight loss were 10 times more likely than the average person to use smartphone apps to track or manage their health. Around 59% of the weight-loss maintainers reported using a food or calorie counter app, while only 5.9% of the other respondents used one. And 31.7% of those who kept their weight off used apps to monitor their weight compared to the other respondents, of whom only 3% used apps for weight tracking. The researchers attributed sustained weight loss success to the ability to actively self-monitor their lifestyle habits, even after reaching their weight loss goals.
Why digital health tracking works: the power of self-monitoring
The reason behind the success in improving weight loss while using a digital tracker largely boils down to one essential goal: keeping users at the center as the main drivers of their health.
When it comes to improving habits, experts hype up the importance of self-monitoring. Self-monitoring allows you to be acutely aware of how your habits, patterns, and triggers are impacting your goals, and the science is pretty clear: people who self-monitor are better at correcting their behaviors so that they reach their goals faster.
And it makes sense. The more you understand about your health, the more proactive you can be to manage your health with positive behavioral changes.
Self-monitoring also helps increase accountability and can provide continuous feedback. Feedback identifies what is and isn’t working – critical information which can then be used to make behavioral adjustments and track progress along the way.
What’s more, self-monitoring helps cultivate a sense of mastery and self-efficacy, especially as you begin to see progress. In other words, it can really boost confidence in your skills which can keep you on track and stay motivated to keep going.
As a one-of-its-kind device that tracks precise fat burn in breath, Biosense makes it easy to self-monitor how changes in your diet and exercise routine may lead toward reaching your health goals. Using Biosense, you can effortlessly and conveniently monitor exactly how any lifestyle change, no matter how big or small, can help you lose weight, lower your inflammation, enrich your healthspan, or improve your metabolic flexibility.
Getting into the right mindset for habit change
When it comes to reaching any goal in life, one thing’s for sure: mindset matters. Feeling empowered and confident about your ability to improve your habits is not just a nice morale boost – it is actually a key ingredient for success. In fact, research suggests that the more you believe in your ability to change for the better and the more you can take part in determining your goals and the solutions to your problems, the more likely you will succeed in making long-lasting changes.
Taking the initiative to change is key. Evidence shows that people who take the initiative to personally choose their target behavior goals experience better results because they have a sense of control and are more likely to maintain their motivation in the long run.
The bottom line
Digital health trackers have taken the wellness space by storm. These electronic devices and apps make it easy to closely monitor your diet, weight, and physical activity. Many people find digital trackers especially helpful for weight loss because they can educate you about your habits and how they affect your weight by revealing trends and patterns, and can show you how you’re progressing toward reaching your goals. They can also empower you to make informed decisions about your lifestyle by giving you personalized feedback in real-time, which can boost your motivation. Sticking to a weight-loss lifestyle can be challenging, but using a digital health tracker like Biosense might be an affordable, convenient, and effective solution to help you get there.