By Sam Davis, BHS, CPT, FNS
We’ve all been there—continuously stepping on the scale to see how our clean eating and hours in the gym are paying off. Unfortunately, a scale that just measures pounds is not what we need to measure overall health. As the health and wellness industry evolves, health professionals are no longer preaching simple “weight loss.” It’s important to lose body fat, which in excess causes complications. Issues include high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, high blood sugar, and heart disease. With so many things to keep track of, it’s hard to determine what is the best scale for measuring body fat. So I’ve reduced this debate down to a few key points.
There are a few old-fashioned ways to measure your body composition. Unfortunately, those methods require heading into your local gyms and finding someone who is qualified to measure your body fat. They’ll use skin-fold calipers or a high-tech, expensive body composition measuring scale. In other words: not something you’ll find in your average home.
Luckily for us, technology has made it easier (and more affordable) to measure your body fat at home. These devices look just like your average home scales, but give you an incredible amount of information. Use them to measure total body mass, fat percentages, bone mass, and water weight.
It is, however, important that you use high-tech scales correctly to get as close to an accurate reading as possible.
Body fat scales are generally easy to use. You just step on it barefoot like you would a normal scale, and then after 10-25 seconds, you receive a reading of your weight and estimated body fat percentage.
When you step onto the scale, you’re stepping onto sensors that send electrical waves up your legs and into your pelvis. The waves go up one leg and down the other to measure the level of resistance.
Fat is more resistant to electrical currents than muscle and water. So, the greater the body resistance, the greater the body fat percentage.
Now, the big question for most of these scales is the accuracy. They provide rough estimates only—and there are multiple factors that affect your results. These factors include gender, where you store fat, whether or not you’re pregnant, age, height and build, frequency of resistance training, and water intake & storage for the day.
Therefore, the best time to use these scales is first thing in the morning, since your body has been fasting all night as you sleep. This will give you the most accurate estimate.
Each option below has its unique features and benefits. Choose the one that best matches your needs.
We love this device because it takes into consideration 13 key body composition metrics. Among them: body weight, BMI, body fat percentage, water percentage, skeletal muscle, fat-free body weight, subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, muscle mass, bone mass, protein, basal metabolism, and age. This kind of information helps exponentially with results; it will give you a ton of data to adjust your nutrition and exercise as needed.
The technology component of this scale is extremely attractive as well. They have a FITINDEX app through the Apple Store and Google Play. This app connects to the scale via Bluetooth and supports both Android and iOS. The scale also allows you to have unlimited users, so your family can share one scale.
This one also takes into consideration 13 key components: body weight, BMI, body fat percentage, water percentage, skeletal muscle, fat-free body weight, subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, muscle mass, bone mass, protein, basal metabolism, and age.
The RENPHO Scale has similar features to other smart scales. Additionally, it has the added benefit of syncing with your favorite fitness apps. The RENPHO app not only logs all the 13 keys, but it also syncs your information to all health apps. Among them are Samsung Health, Apple Health, Google Fit, and the Fitbit App. There is also a community component to the technology used to create this system; you can share your progress with friends and family to stay accountable during your journey.
Amazon reviewers say this scale gives the pricey, clinical scale a run for its money on accuracy, which makes the comparatively low $24.99 investment completely worth it.
The Arboleaf Fat Scale is easy to use, and arguably your best weight loss companion for tracking your body composition. This option tracks 10 key body composition metrics, including body weight, body fat percentage, body water percentage, body type, visceral fat, muscle mass, bone mass, BMI, BMR, and metabolic age on your phone. The clear trends graph allows you to keep track of your progress easily. It measures your progress and weight loss from start to finish to keep you motivated.
The Arboleaf Fat Scale also comes with a free app. It logs and tracks your progress each time you step onto the scale. The ARBOLEAF app also connects to Apple Health, Google Fit, and the Fitbit App so you can track and manage your health metrics anytime, anywhere. The app supports Android and iOS, and includes the unlimited user option. The multi-user friendly scale can identify every user and match the scale’s digital weight and body fat data to the corresponding user profile.
The data collected from these scales can dramatically increase your awareness when it comes to your body composition. Therefore, you may reach your goals at a much faster rate. The accuracy may not be at 100%, but these tools will still give you the best idea of where you stand—without breaking the bank to get your body fat percentage measured the old-fashioned way.