Body Mass & Fat Analysis Scales… What do they Measure?
Many of you have asked what we think about body fat analysis scales – are they accurate? What’s the best type to buy? Do they really measure body fat?
The simplest scale of course is the one that provides a straight readout of your body weight … you simply step on, then read your weight. However, I realize this type of scale doesn’t tell you your body fat, BMI or any of the other handy measurements many of us want to know so we can analyze our weight and health.
The Japanese Body Analysis Scales
The Maquino body analysis scales provide a number of key measurements: weight (in kilos or pounds), body fat weight, body fat percentage, body water, and bone mass. In addition, the scales have memory to allow me to program the scale for up to twelve users.
How do body fat scales Work?
Most of these types of scales use bioelectrical impedance. The scales send a safe and very low electrical current through the lower half of the body. Since the electrical current flows more quickly through water and muscle than bone or fat, the scale measures the speed of the current. Then based on that number, the scale estimates body fat using a multi-step, mathematical formula. One thing you will want to be aware of which was new to me: if you are pregnant or have an electrical implant such as a heart pacemaker or defibrillator these scales are not recommended.
Are the Body Fat Analysis Scales Accurate?
This is a good and relevant question but the answer depends on several factors – body fat scale readings can be thrown off by the following elements (also the results may not be accurate for kids under the age of 16, or people with an elevated body temperature, diabetes or other health condition).
Your Level of Hydration: If you’re dehydrated or sweat a lot from exercise or your climate, you will have less body water for the electric current to flow through. The result: your body fat reading may be higher than it really is. And the opposite is also true. If you drink too much fluid, have a full bladder, or if you are a women experiencing water retention from your menstrual cycle, your body fat reading may be lower than it really is. For best results: be aware of what affects your fluid retention; weigh yourself once a week, on the same day and at the same time of day; wear the same clothes or none at all.
Movement: The electric sensors in these scales are sensitive and work best when weighing stationary objects. Wiggling around or quickly hoping on the scale can interfere with your reading. For best results: always stand on the same area of the scale platform and stand still.
Foot calluses: Some studies have found that having thick calluses on your feet may prevent the electric current from flowing accurately. For best results: shave those calluses. (Did anyone say pedicure?)
Amount of Muscle: Heavy-duty weight training builds muscle which weighs more then fat. This can result in a higher body weight measurement which can change the arithmetic in the body fat and BMI formulas (however you can definitely still use the scales to measure your progress and changes in body composition over time).