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The Growth of Social Dieting — Should You Join A “Fitness Tribe” To Lose Weight?

Image: Breakaway Memphis

These days, we can track everything. From fitness tech that can monitor your heart rate, calorie burn, and step count to mobile apps that bring a food diary right to your fingertips, we know everything our body is doing. New research from one of those apps — MyFitnessPal — reveals that users who are a part of a “Fitness Tribe” and share their food diaries lose twice as much weight as their non-social dieting peers.

But what the heck is a Fitness Tribe and can you end up getting voted off your own island? 

According to MyFitnessPal, a Fitness Tribe is a group of two or more people who team up to engage in healthy behavior, build healthy habits, or achieve a health or fitness goal. The mobile app has built an extremely large pool of data after being on the market for 9 years and pulling in over 50 million users. This data showed experts that users with at least 10 friends who were active in their first 30 days on MyFitnessPal lost an average of 22.75 lbs. So researchers decided to dig more, and surveyed 2,200 of its users about why they were connecting with others and what they wanted to get out of their experience.

The result: they found that individuals who belonged to Fitness Tribes of 10 or more people lost up to four times as much weight as those who were not a part of one of these social groups.1

“Mobile and social allow us to connect with each other in ways that help people form and sustain healthy habits. This generation of health-seekers are instinctively coming up with a variety of ways to give and get the support they need from their real-world relationships and digital social networks,” said Mike Lee, Co-Founder and CEO, MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal found that not only does sharing a food diary hold you more accountable, it also has positive fitness impacts, too. The research found that 54% of the users tried to exercise on a regular date and time together.

In their published study, they concluded that four things make these social groups work best: shared goals, shared values and tactics, shared behavior, and shared support. Recently, MyFitnessPal has also said they will start to track activity, with a feature they call Steps. It will allow users to sync this feature with fitness tech such as Fitbit and the Jawbone UP, but will also utilize the M7 chip in the iPhone 5, which can track all-day activity without draining your battery.


Strength In Numbers — You Don’t Have to Join a “Tribe” 

Image source: Xcentuate

No, you don’t have to join a “Fitness Tribe” or even use MyFitnessPal. There are tons of food-tracking apps like Lose It! and Daily Burn. You can also form your own group of fitness gurus instead of joining a tribe. Many gyms facilitate opportunities to join these groups, which can help hold you accountable for your day-to-day food choices and make sure you complete your workout. The bottom line is, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is much easier when we work with others and motivate one another.

Interested? Download MyFitnessPal here, available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows.

Julie Fine

Julie Fine

Content Specialist at Lean It Up
Julie Fine is an AFAA-CGF, Beachbody INSANITY Coach, former chunky gal, 110% pure fitness junkie and an SEC-lovin' sorority girl at the University of Missouri.

When she isn't spending her extra time as a campus tour guide (Go Tigers!), she's probably scrounging around the aisles of Barnes & Noble or doing some impulse online shopping.
Julie Fine
Follow Lean It UP on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info and updates.


References, Notes, Links

  1. MyFitnessPal Blog—MyFitnessPal eBook: The Rise of the Fitness Tribe []


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