The days of the traditional bathroom scales are unquestionably numbered. The old-fashioned scale can do nothing other than provide you with a reading of your weight. Modern scales measure body fat, visceral fat level, bone mass, body water percentage, metabolic age and much more.
Now it is possible to determine whether you’re at risk of developing health problems in the future. Some body fat analyzers have a Wi-Fi connection and enable you to see and track your various metrics online. This is a growing market with hundreds of competitors so keep reading to discover the best scales you can buy along with advice on purchasing the best scale for you.
Comparison: Best Body Fat Analyzer
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What Are Body Fat Scales?
They are increasingly sophisticated machines designed to measure a wide array of metrics related to your health and fitness. While old-fashioned scales can only measure your weight, modern body composition scales have the capacity to look at everything from your body fat percentage to your metabolic age.
The aforementioned Wi-Fi connection allows you to get a visual reading of your progress. Once you have created an online account, you can chart your progress and for many users this is the encouragement they need to continue on a healthier path.
Why Do I Need A Body Fat Monitor?
Although the ‘mirror test’ is still an excellent way to gauge progress, it can be disheartening to see no discernible changes on the scale. There is an enormous difference between weight loss and fat loss. An old-fashioned scale could show a 20 pound weight loss but does nothing to alert you to drastic changes to body composition or general health. Conversely, the scale could show no weight loss despite the fact you may have lost a significant amount of body fat.
In contrast, modern body fat scales offer a ‘no holds barred’ look at your overall health and clearly show positive and negative changes in your physique in statistical form. Here are some of the important metrics these scales offer:
Body Fat Percentage & Body Composition
This is the amount of fat in your body. On average, women carry more body fat than men. Here is an idea of body fat ranges according to the American Council on Exercise:
- Essential Fat: Men (2-5%), Women (10-13%). This is the minimum amount of fat we need to survive. Professional bodybuilders tend to fall within these ranges but it is an unsustainable level and it is extremely dangerous to try and maintain such a body fat percentage for any period of time.
- Athletic Build: Men (6-13%), Women (14-20%). The lower end of these ranges is extremely hard to achieve and most people can see their abs in the mid-range of the above figures.
- Fitness: Men (14-17%), Women (21-24%). This is a healthy body fat range. You can help avoid a host of medical problems later on in life if you manage to keep your body fat within these ranges.
- Average: Men (18-24%), Women (25-31%). You are still deemed to be ‘okay’ in these ranges but obviously it is best to be at the lower figures.
- Obese: Men (25 %+), Women (32 %+). This is dangerous territory. If you allow yourself to remain at these levels of body fat you’re leaving yourself open to an array of possible health problems including type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart attack.
There are 3 types of fat; intramuscular (between muscle), subcutaneous (under the skin) and visceral (around the organs). Visceral fat is by far the most dangerous as it has the most direct impact on health and is difficult to gauge. Subcutaneous fat is the type you can see and feel when you ‘pinch an inch’.
If you have too much visceral fat, it can interrupt normal hormonal communications between organs and lead to conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance which is the beginning of diabetes.
This includes skeletal muscles, ‘smooth’ digestive and cardiac muscles and the water contained within these muscles. The more muscle mass you have, the faster you burn calories. While all you could see was weight gain in old scales, modern monitors allow you to see the ‘type’ of weight you’re gaining or losing.
Body Water Percentage
A huge percentage of our bodies are made up with water. Staying hydrated is crucial in order to enhance your athletic performance and drinking water helps eliminate waste from the body. Women should keep their body fat percentage in the 45-60% range while men should aim for 50-65%.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
The higher your BMR, the faster you burn calories at rest. Therefore, you need to keep your BMR high in order to keep your body fat percentage in check.
This involves comparing your BMR to the average of your chronological age group. If your metabolic age is higher than your actual age, it’s a sign that you must review your diet and exercise regime.
This is a measurement of your bone mineral density and offers a snapshot of your bone health. It is possible to identify potential osteoporosis with this measurement and it is also a measurement of how easily your bones might fracture.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
This involves dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. For examples, a 198 pound man (90 kilos) who is 5 foot 11 inches tall (approx 1.80m) has an approximate BMI of 27.77 (1.8 x 1.8 = 3.24. 90/3.24 = 27.77). Here are the BMI ranges:
- Underweight: Less than 18.5
- Healthy: 18.5-24.9
- Overweight: 25-29.9
- Obese: 30+
BMI only gives you a general overview of your health because it is riddled with flaws and limitations. For example, it doesn’t take into account a person’s natural build, bone mass or muscle mass.
Top 3 Weight Scales That Measure Body Fat
1 – EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale
This is yet another excellent addition to the body fat scale market and its ability to store the information of up to 8 people is very impressive. It has Step On technology which means you just need to step on the scale in order for it to know the identity of the user.
It has a vast array of measurement options and a large and clear LCD display. It is accurate to within 0.2 pounds with a capacity of 400 pounds. The main downside is the lack of Wi-Fi connection which is a shame because the data it offers would look very impressive in graph form. Nonetheless, it is terrific value and highly rated.
2 – Weight Guru Digital Body Fat Scale
Even though the Weight Guru is a budget scale, it provides a number of measurement options including body fat %, lean mass %, water weight % and bone mass. Its 4 sensors offer accurate results and its large LCD display makes it easy to see your results in any light.
While it lacks the sophistication of more expensive scales, it does have a budget version of Bluetooth which enables you to upload your results to your Smartphone. You can also connect it with FitBit and Google Fit. The graphs are easy to comprehend and allow for a long-term measure of your progress.
It also has an impressive capacity of 400 pounds and a 5 year warranty. The Weight Guru scale boasts a 4.2 star rating from over 1,100 Amazon.com reviews and is one of the best value for money scales around.
3 – Tanita BC554 Ironman Body Composition Monitor
Although it is one of the most expensive body fat analyzers you can purchase, it also happens to be one of the best. It has a 330 pound capacity, a 3 year warranty and more measurement options than practically any other competitor. This includes metabolic age, water weight %, visceral fat and bone mass.
It is also the most accurate body fat monitor we measured as practically every measurement it takes corresponds with what you would receive in a doctor’s office. It saves the results of 4 people so it’s ideal for the family and its sleek design makes it a nice addition to the contemporary bathroom.
About the only negatives are the price and the lack of a Wi-Fi connection but it is still a sophisticated piece of equipment suitable for all fitness levels. It is an essential purchase for athletes however. Its 4.5 star rating on Amazon.com is also one of the highest in its niche.
What to Look For In Body Fat Scales
There are a number of body fat scales with an incredible amount of metrics. However, these metrics are utterly useless if the scale isn’t reliable. The main purpose of one of these scales is ascertaining your body fat percentage. Make sure this reading is accurate before worrying about anything else.
This depends on your needs but if you’re willing to pay top dollar for a scale, look for one that offers bone mass, body water percentage, metabolic age, visceral fat and basal metabolic age measurements. They are helpful guides when it comes to analyzing your general health.
There is quite a disparity in price on the market and it’s possible to find a scale for under $50 that does everything a $150 scale can do. Shop around and don’t get followed by big name brands or price tags.
Again, this is a matter of personal preference but if you’re a stat lover, finding a scale with a Wi-Fi connection and online profile is recommended. Such scales enable you to gain a clear visual guide of your progress in the form of charts and graphs. Seeing your body fat percentage plummet in this way can be an exceptional motivator.
Pros & Cons of Body Fat Analyzers
- Convenience: You can get a good idea of your overall health on a regular basis without having to make multiple trips to your doctor.
- Health: It’s possible to discover some uncomfortable truths about your health and body composition and take steps to fix matters before it’s too late. For example, you may find that you have a high level of visceral fat in your body. You can use this information to create an improved diet and exercise plan to prevent future health problems.
- Motivation: First of all, spending a reasonable sum of cash means you’re more likely to try and get your money’s worth. Then there is the small matter of motivation. Seeing even small amounts of progress might be all you need to continue on a healthier path.
- Inaccuracy: How accurate are these scales? Remember, most scales use an electrical pulse through your hands and feet to calculate your body fat percentage. There are a host of reasons why such a measurement will be inaccurate. The position of your feet on the scale, the time of day and the amount of water you drink can all lead to unusual results.
- Cost: Many of these scales cost over $100. Can you afford this expense for a machine that only measures body fat percentage? More sophisticated models can cost hundreds of dollars. Are you prepared to make such an investment in your health?
- Technology: Some of these scales require an element of tech ability. Without it, you could struggle to connect your scale to Wi-Fi and lose out on an important feature.
Bringing your body fat percentage down to a reasonable level and improving your body composition will probably change your life. As well as preventing future health problems, having a fitter and sexier looking physique is likely to boost your self-esteem. Body fat scales can give you the motivation you need to finally make important changes in your life. We conclude by offering a few tips on using body fat monitors:
- Use the scales to measure your progress only. Never compare your results to those of others.
- Choose a scale that meets your needs. There are models designed specifically for athletes for instance.
- Try to use the scale once a week only at the same time of day.
- Look to measure yourself in the same room at the same temperature because skin temperature actually affects the electrical current used by the body fat monitor.
- Clean the foot pads thoroughly after every use.
- Before using your scales for the first time, get a professional to measure your body fat with skin fold calipers. This should immediately allow you to determine your scale’s accuracy.