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Can Your Phone Help you Lose Weight?

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Researchers determined people who actively tracked their weight loss with a smartphone app can lose significantly more weight than people who do not.


Deliberate action and perseverance 

There was a pitcher filled about 1/3 of the way up with water. A crow kept struggling to reach the water in the pitcher. No matter how much he struggled, the water was out of reach.

The crow began collecting pebbles and placing them in the pitcher.

Through perseverance and patience, the pitcher’s water level increased enough so that the crow was able to drink the water. 

Deliberate action and perseverance is the key to success in any goal.

Your smartphone could be “your pebbles” in a pitcher of water

In this article, I will summarize the results of a meta-analysis of studies that reviewed the benefits of using a smartphone to track health and fitness goals.

In this meta-analysis, subjects lost significantly more weight than those who did not use a smartphone to track their fitness goals. They lost on average 4.4 lbs in 30 days and 6.2 lbs in 60 days

This was not total weight loss but “more weight lost” compared to the control group.

According to the meta-analysis, weight loss success was further improved by incorporating additional interventions such as behavioral and social support.

For the scope of this article, I will focus on the results specifically from fitness tracking with a smartphone app compared to a control group. 


Antoun, Jumana, et al. “The Effectiveness of Combining Nonmobile Interventions With the Use of Smartphone Apps With Various Features for Weight Loss: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” JMIR mHealth and uHealth vol. 10,4 e35479. 8 Apr. 2022, doi:10.2196/35479


How does it work?

The apps were classified according to the following features: self-monitoring, education, feedback, social support, rewards, and gamification. 

Most of us have blind spots when it comes to our behavior.

Smartphone fitness apps can help us become more aware of our behavior and daily actions. This is especially helpful when trying to lose significantly more weight.

Researchers have demonstrated that humans tend to significantly underestimate the amount of food eaten daily.

Nutrition tracking apps can help us become more aware of our actual eating patterns.

This will ultimately increase our chances of a successful weight loss program. 


Lose significantly more weight with your smartphone fitness apps:


Track your Progress

Good smartphone fitness trackers allow you to track your food intake, workout routines, and body measurements.

For nutrition tracking, I use MyFitnessPal.

My favorite feature is the ability to scan barcodes from your food to easily add them.

myfitnesspal tracker

I use JeFit to track my body measurements and workouts. It is free and has tons of workout routines to follow. This app has everything you need to track and keep pushing your workouts forward. 

jefit workout

Reinforce positive behavior 

Smartphones are notorious for spiking dopamine.

A spike in dopamine can lead to habit formation.

Since you are going to be using your phone anyways, this powerful dopamine surge could be used to reinforce a healthy fitness routine.


Gamification

gamify jefit app

Games are fun.

If your fitness routine is in a slump, adding gaming elements to it could energize your efforts.

These apps usually provide milestones, rewards, and gaming tactics to add a new dimension to their fitness routines.

The instant reward after a workout provides the motivation that might not come for a month without the app’s gamification. 


Social support

Social support has been proven to increase fitness program adherence and overall success.

Many fitness apps provide a variety of social support features that can provide that extra motivation needed on the days you are thinking about skipping.

Leveraging the social aspect of fitness apps allows us to share our success and motivate others as well. 

social jefit app


Fitness information

Some fitness apps provide us with useful information and support.

The knowledge can range from one-on-one personal training to workouts. The ultimate goal of all of the apps is to provide support for your fitness-related goals. 


Accountability

Tracking your fitness progress provides the feedback needed to help us enforce personal accountability.

It is easy for us to convince ourselves that we are doing the things necessary to reach our fitness goals. When we track our progress daily, we get a better picture of our efforts.

This feedback makes accountability and adherence to a fitness program much easier.


How can you apply this information?

If you don’t track your nutrition and workouts already, this might be a simple practice to improve your success with a nutrition and exercise program. 

Nutritional tracking is an eye-opening approach to weight loss.

Most people are amazed to find out their actual daily caloric consumption. This feedback allows us to quickly improve our eating habits. 

Weight lifting and exercise tracking are easy methods to ensure consistent progress in a workout routine.

The key to success in exercise programming is progressive overload.

Progressive overload is the small but consistent increase in total weight lifted (repetitions or weight). If you track your workouts, you have a goal to reach in your following workout to ensure progress.


Conclusion:

Action Steps

You can improve exercise adherence and goal achievement using smartphone apps by doing the following:

  1. Track daily food intake
  2. Track workout routine and exercises
  3. If desired, use social features
  4. Gamify workout progress using in-app rewards
  5. Get feedback from professionals (Personal trainers, Nutritionists, etc.) 

While the data suggests tracking your fitness data with a smartphone provides beneficial advantages, it is important to remember the behavioral aspect to achieve and maintain higher weight loss results.

For this reason, I highly suggest that anyone who has attempted a weight loss program and failed to talk to a licensed nutritionist as well as a certified personal trainer.

Some of these apps provide access to both.


Article Discussed:

Antoun, Jumana, et al.The Effectiveness of Combining Nonmobile Interventions With the Use of Smartphone Apps With Various Features for Weight Loss: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” JMIR mHealth and uHealth vol. 10,4 e35479. 8 Apr. 2022, doi:10.2196/35479