Body Fat Scales
Body fat scales are scales that measure body fat (surprise, surprise!). You stand on them just like ordinary scales but, instead of just measuring your weight, body fat scales provide you with your estimated body fat percentage.
When you stand on a pair of body fat scales, a small (harmless) electrical pulse is sent through your body and measures your body density. How this works is that the electrical pulse can pass through muscle much more quickly than it can pass through fat (and bone). So, this is how it can figure out your body density.
Once it knows your body density, the scales will calculate your body fat percentage, based on a known formula.
Now, the results will differ depending on factors such as your age, gender, fitness level etc. So, most body fat scales will allow you to enter in these details so that it can provide you with a more accurate reading.
Tips for using Body Fat Scales
Your results can vary depending on many factors such as your hydration levels (i.e. how much water is in your body) and the temperature of your skin.
Therefore, here are some tips for using body fat scales:
- Try and measure yourself at the same time every day (for example, as soon as you get up in the morning).
- Try to drink the same amount of water each day before you measure yourself (so that your hydration levels are reasonably consistent).
- Don't exercise before measuring your body fat. Your hydration levels will be much lower after exercising.
- Keep your body fat scales clean.
Other Methods for Measuring Body Fat
Body fat can be measured in a number of different ways. Actually, no current method is 100% accurate. All we can do is simply estimate the person's body fat percentage. Having said this, some methods are deemed to be more accurate than others.
Here are various methods for measuring body fat percentage:
- Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry - This is where you get 2 X-rays, then a computer is used to work out the body fat percentage.
- Expansions - These are a series of more complicated (and accurate) measurements.
- Body Average Density Measurement
- Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
- Anthropometric measurements and height and circumference measurements
- Skinfold Test
Some methods of measuring body fat percentage require specialist equipment and/or expertise. Therefore, for the average person, a pair of body fat scales is probably the most practical method of determining body fat percentage.