There is no question that overweight people who have a knack for consistently checking their weight, lose more fat than the people who don't. However, you have to understand that the average bathroom scale is not designed to provide any more features than to just show you how much you weigh.
Sure, if you're on a weight loss regimen and need to keep track of your weight, the trusty bathroom weighing machine is mighty handy. But you have to realize that your weight isn't the only element in determining how healthy you are.
There are other factors such as the amount of fat you are carrying in your body, your total body composition and the volume of your lean muscle mass you should know, which is where a good body fat scale comes into the picture.
How Does A Body Fat Scale Work?
These devices are available in a broad variety of sizes, shapes, and models. The fat scales are incorporated with cutting-edge technology, referred to as bioelectrical impedance. The tech allows the machine to estimate the amount of fat in your body.
As soon as you step on the scale, right on the sensors, the machine sends an electrical current up one of your legs. The current travels up towards the pelvis and exits via the other leg. The electrical current is imperceptible. You won't feel a thing.
Because our muscles consist of water, they efficiently and effectively conduct an electrical charge in comparison to body fats. So, your resistance to that electrical charge will be greater if you have more fat than if you don't.
Body fat scales are designed to integrate a specialized formula that helps calculate the total percentage of fat using the data generated via the resistance of your body to the electrical charge. The machine also takes into account your weight, height, gender and your age.
Some devices feature hand held electrodes for the precision-based fat count of your entire body. But quality scales come with a plethora of other features such as WiFi transmission. You can use this feature to calculate your body fat count using an application.
How much your body resists the current is directly proportional to how less or more fat there is in your body as well as its density. Similar to different fat tests, these devices do not precisely measure the amount of fat you have – it doesn’t measure the percentage.
What it does is calculate your body density. A body fat scale uses the figure it gets from calculating your body density and then inputs a calculation to identify your fat percentage.
The formulas these machines come inputted with just predict the amount of fat you have. On the downside, there isn't a one-fits-all formula that can determine body fat of everybody because of the variances in body shape, size, weight, gender, and age. All of these factors can have a considerable effect on the outcome.
However, there are fat scales designed to factor-in minor or standard differences – for instance, the age and gender of the individual. But you have to take what percentage of fat it shows you with a pinch of salt.
But that isn't too bad. Why? Well, because of no matter what number it shows you and whether or not it is precise, the machines can accurately check for slight and big changes in the composition of your body. And that is what you need!
The position of your body, its condition, the amount of water retention, the food you eat, the temperature of your skin and any recent physical exercise regimen can all significantly impact the outcome of the body fat scale.
The only way you can figure out your true body fat percentage is to standardize every test, which means you ensure each test is similar to the one you had before – this is exactly why body fat scales are brilliant!
The Accuracy Of Fat Scales
A potential complication with fat scales is the fact they aren't that accurate most of the time. And for a good reason, if you aren't consistent with the tests, the machine will be too. Apart from that, there are a couple of important variables that affect the calculations of the device.
For example, it takes into account how hydrated you are at that moment of time, the time you had your last meal, and the last time you exercised. It also considers whether or not your feet are clean, dirty or calloused. The accuracy of the machine also depends on the type of product you have.
Different studies identified that fat scales generate broadly differing readings and that the outcomes are also different than those calculated via traditional forms of measurement.
However, devices that feature hand electrodes are proven to be a slightly better than normal scales. According to the research published by Obesity Facts back in 2008, fat scales built with foot electrodes could never accurately determine a precise body fat count in people, and some cases overestimated the percentages, especially in people with leaner physiques.
Even the instructions manual in food electrodes products mention that the device may not generate accurate results, especially in athletes, senior citizens, and people suffering from osteoporosis.
The Best Ways To Use A Body Fat Scale
It is important to understand that not every fat scale is designed equally – which is also why you need to know the differences between all of them. Traditional bathroom weighing machines are made to weigh your total body in pounds while fat scales are designed to measure the fat percentage.
However, using a quality fat scale can help you determine a precise representation of how healthy and fit you are. For example, Taylor Precision Product body fat scale provides reading within 0.1% and takes into account how hydrated you are and your muscle mass. The device features highly accurate sensors.
Similarly, Withings body fat scale automatically uploads the precise measurement of your body fat on your laptop via wireless transmission.
If you are on a weight loss regimen – it is essential to focus on shedding your total body weight covered in fat instead of burning muscle. Your muscles are a lot heavier than fat, which means a standard weighing machine can easily display inaccurate results and not portray a precise fat percentage.
Understanding Fat Scales
Apart from being a physical fat measuring scale that you can easily step on, the scale is also inbuilt with a range of different percentages. The category of percentages reflects the standard percentage of fat on a female or male adult.
The average body fat range for a male adult can be anywhere from 6% to 20% or 25%. The average body fat range for a female adult can range anywhere from 14% to 27% or 31%. Notice how different the fat percentage is for both male and female, which is primarily because the female and male anatomy are different and for different functions.
Also note the two body types are quite different anatomically, which is why you must never be demotivated or upset after finding out your true fat percentage via a fat scale. Although it is quite necessary for a male adult to rank below 2% regarding body fat – women need to rank below 10% to lead a healthy lifestyle.
On the other end of this broad spectrum, a male adult is obese when his body fat is well over 26%, and female adult is medically obese if her body fat soars above 32%.
Setting The Fat Scale And Stepping Up
Setting up the fat scale is simple. You can program separate setting into the machine, for example, you gender and name. In some products, you can even input your weight. By storing all this information in the machine, the scale will provide you with a precise calculation of your fat.
Moreover, some products enable you to make more than one profiles so that you more than one people can use the same device without any conflict of programming or information.
After you save all your personal information in the machine, the next step is to stand on the scale. Remember to step on it barefoot and remove all your clothing for a more accurate measurement.
Moreover, it is preferable to put the machine on a flat, even surface such as on hardwood or tile. Refrain from putting it on carpeted flooring as it makes the reading uneven. Keep standing on the scale for a couple of seconds, and it will display a close to exact measurement of your body fat and total weight.
Understanding Your Body Fat Percentage
After the machine displays the percentage of fat on the screen, it is important to note down the figure. Compare your fat percentages with the ranges above to understand where exactly you fall in the fat category.
A fat scale is a very convenient tool that can help you identify your body composition and fat percentage on top of displaying other information regarding your health and fitness. However, you must realize and accept that the reading will not always be precise and depiction of your percentage can vary considerably based on how consistent and similar the tests are.
After noting down your fat percentage, we recommend that you compare the figure each time you test yourself. Just compare the body percentage. If you are concerned about your weight and fat, do not hesitate to consult a medical professional. Remember, prevention is always better than cure.
Develop An Easy To Follow Routine
If you want to measure your body fat every day, it is better to test yourself the same time each day. That is primarily because measuring your body weight, and fat will be drastically different after having food or coffee or exercising.
Measuring after drinking a large amount of water or eating a big meal will interfere with the reading. Exercising will increase the temperature of your body, which is another factor that will influence the outcome.
What Is A Healthy Body Percentage?
For men falling in the ages between 20 and 39, the percentage of body fat should somewhere from 6% to 25% - for men that fall in the age bracket of 40 to 59; the fat percentage should be 11% to 22%. However, before you weigh your fat, it is useful to understand a bit about the biology of the body. There are two types of fats:
You will be surprised to know that there is fat that is important for optimal bodily functionality. For adult males, essential fat account for an estimated 3% of their total weight. Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of essential fats, and you can consume these fats in the form of fish, nuts, and seeds.
Without these fats, your body will never be able to adequately absorb and utilize nutrients and vitamins such as vitamin K, A, D – all of which help strengthen the immune system, prevents blood clotting and effectively absorbs calcium to enhance bone health.
Plus, this type of fat also keeps all vital organs safe from harm and keeps them insulated so that your internal body temperature remains regulated.
Storage fat is what you want to eliminate. It is all that fat that you have accumulated over the years as a result of bad eating habits and surplus calories. When you eat anything, good or bad, the calories from that food store in the form of fat pockets.
These pockets of fat develop when the body does not need those excess calories and utilize them in the form of energy – for example when you are lifting weight or performing cardiovascular exercises.
However, these stored calories convert into something known as triglycerides, which is what keeps your heart beating and your respiration on-point. Excess calories cause a fast accumulation of fat, which results in obesity and weight gain.
Types Of Body Fat Scales
You can opt for a variety of fat scale models in the market. In light of this, listed below are some of them:
Hand-Held Body Fat Scales
You can find these devices at the local gym – the handheld machines such as the Omron body fat scale is designed to function the same as a traditional fat scale. However, you have to understand that these scales can be a bit inaccurate at times. Again the readings can drastically fluctuate depending on how hydrated you are at the time.
These devices pretty simple to use – all you have to do is grab the handles and keep holding them for a couple of seconds. The machine will then display your total body fat percentage. Apart from being a bit expensive, handheld fat scales aren't designed to notice any difference between subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
Digital Fat Scales
Digital scales are more precise and sport a more fitness inspired design. In shape, they are the same as a regular bathroom weight machine but with loads of features. Apart from digitally displaying your fat percentage, these machines can store your personal information like your gender, age, weight, and height.
Plus, they are quite easy to use, all you have to do is to step on the scale, and the sensors will measure your weight and total body composition, which it will then convert into your body fat.
Wireless Digital Fat Scales
If you're looking for convenience and portability, these machines are quite cutting-edge! The design functionality of these machines is the same as other fat scales. But wireless models come with wall mountable displays along with the scale.
The step of the scale and you will be able to look all the information on the mounted unit. Some devices feature an alarm clock, humidity analyzer and display the recommended intake of calories.
Wireless models incorporate date and time features, and you can also access all your body fat information via an application. Some devices also send notifications to motivate you to work out and weigh yourself if you avoid doing so.
Smart Body Fat Scales
They are pretty much the same as wireless scales. However, they come with additional features. Smart scales measure the amount of water in your body, your exact body mass index, your bones mass along with the number of calories you require or need to burn.
You can access all this information via an application that you can use on your smartphone or tablet.
Specifications To Look For In A Body Fat Scale
With a plethora of models available, it is wise to select one that suits your requirements and can be useful for the long-term. In light of this, mentioned below are some specifications you should look out for in a fat scale:
- Weight Capacity – An average fat scale comes with a weight capacity of 390 lbs. (176 kg)
- Display Type – This is preference-based. If you are looking for convenience, go for smart fat scales that come with a wall-mountable unit. Other than that, all quality fat scales come with a digital display
- Materials – You can select from a variety of materials. Fat scales come in chrome, tempered glass, etc.
- Battery Indicator – A majority of fat scales are battery powered – which means it is necessary to have a battery indicator to know when to replace the batteries for the device
Best Tips For Selecting A Body Fat Scale And Using One
1. It is necessary that you don't turn this into a competition – only measure and record your body fat percentage. Never compare your body fat percentage with that of your friends.
2. Keep in mind that fat scales aren't always accurate.
3. Go for fat scales that you can calibrate and install easily. If your children or spouse want to use the scale, you should get a product that allows for multiple profiles to be installed so that you can easily share the device.
4. Before you test yourself on the scale – make sure you drink the exact amount of water. If you drink one glass of water before the weigh-in, stick to it. Fluctuations in hydration detected by the machine can throw off the readings.
5. Make sure you use the fat scale at the same time each day.
6. The temperature of your skin needs to be the same for the electrical current to read your body fat. It is going to be tough, but try your best to maintain the same room temperature before weighing yourself each time.
7. It is not a good idea to weigh yourself after performing any exercise. When you workout, it affects your body's hydration levels, which in turn can affect the outcome of your weigh-in.
8. Keep the foot pads clean – you can wipe them with some rubbing alcohol, but wait for it to dry before using the machine.
9. The better the product, the more accurate the results – so go with a pricey product, but don't go over your budget.
10. For good reference, get your body fat and composition measured by a professional. The pro will use fold calipers to measure everything. Note the percentage and use it as a reference each time you test yourself.
All in all, a body fat scale is a perfect device to measure your weight as well as your total body fat percentage. Thanks to the constant technological advancements, a traditional weighing machine is slowly becoming obsolete.
People prefer fat scales that can calculate and display things other than your weight – such as your hydration and muscle mass, helping you keep fit and active for any adventure. However, it is equally important to go for the best products available.