Try shopping for a body fat scale out there today and you will be overwhelmed with the options.
Many brands have added all sorts of features to attract consumers, but how accurate are these machines?
Are they worth the hassle? No and yes, experts say. Here is why: For telling you how much fat you have in your body they are fairly inaccurate, but for telling you if you are losing or gaining body fat they are very accurate. So what does this mean?
To compare your best options, visit Rudy’s Best body fat scales buyer guide at his blog body fat genius.
How Body fat Analyzers work
Available in various models, most body fat scales use the Bioelectrical Impedance Technology to approximate how much fat a user has.
The moment you step on the scale, its sensors trigger a harmless and imperceptible current that goes throughout your entire body. And because muscles contain more water than fat, it conducts current better than fat. So the Higher the resistance the more fat a person has.
The machine then uses this information plus other information about you like gender, age, weight and height to calculate your fat percentage.
The accuracy issues aside, body fat scales have many advantages over other types of body fat measurement methods. Here are some of them:
-Availability-They are easily available in both online and local stores and once you buy them they are usually right there when you need them.
-Expense-Unlike any good quality body fat calipers or Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry that are usually very expensive you can get a good quality body fat scale for less than $100.And the scale will measure many other things other than just your weight and fat percentage.
-Convenience:-Unlike many other methods that often require appointments, body fat scales are usually right there in your own home, no travelling to do and no appointments.
-Self-Testing-This is probably the best of them all. There are very few ways that you can use to test your own body fat percentage. Using body fat scales is one of them. Even calipers usually require somebody else to take the skin-fold measurement for you.
How to get accurate results with them
It is very important that you measure your body consistently at the same time, under the same circumstances and in the same atmosphere each time.
Experts recommend that doing this in the morning is the best so as to avoid your hydration levels affecting your readings. In addition experts also say that waiting at least 2 or 3 hours pass after taking a shower, exercising or eating can significantly enhance the accuracy of your readings.
Cons of Body Fat Scales
One of the main drawbacks of many body fat scales is that they are usually not accurate.
There are many variables that affect the readings including, when a subject last exercised or ate, hydration, the quality of the scale itself and even whether his or her feet are dirty or highly calloused.
For instance a study conducted in 2013 showed that body fat scales underestimated fat in individuals with lots of fat and overestimated leaner individuals.
Studies also show that different scales produce varying results which often differ with other highly advanced methods of body fat measurement.
Also in most manuals of the scales, it is often clarified that the machines can be less accurate for children, highly trained athletes and elderly people.
Other ways to measure your body fat
Another fairly accurate method of measuring body fat is the skin-fold. Here fat percentage is measured by pinching specific parts of the body and then gauging the thickness using a caliper.
The number which is usually given in millimeters is then compared to a chart depending on the subject’s gender and age to ascertain his or her body fat percentage.
One of the main advantages of this method over the BIA method is that it is fairly accurate, cheap, repeatable and dependable.
Although bathroom body fat scales are never going to be on the same level as other highly advanced fat measuring equipment, if you are fan of weighing yourself and want to have a rough idea about your body fat percentage, they would be a great place to start.
Just make sure you don’t take the measurements as the gospel truth but as a guide. In addition these scales can also be very handy for monitoring body fat over time which can help motivate overweight or obese people to lose weight.