A scale that measures body fat does exactly what it is meant to, which is measures the amount of fat your body contains. Reading this, you might be wondering why a scale of this type needs to be employed as you think regular scales would do the trick just fine. That is indeed true—partially, at least. Regular store-bought bathroom scales are quite sufficient in helping you keep track on your body weight but there is something that a regular scale cannot reach but a body fat scale can. It all boils down to what you should go after when you plan on losing weight, keeping an overall healthy life, and improving your fitness level altogether: muscle mass.
You would tend to focus only on weight loss, which the number shown by the scale is indicating how much you have lost. However, emphasis on weight loss only is rather pointless; you need to lose fat. Weight loss is oftentimes accompanied by loss of muscle mass; this is exactly what you need to avoid. You need to keep up the integrity of your body while scraping off fat and losing weight. A regular scale will not be able to show you anything from bone density to BMI and body water percentage, just the gross weight loss in general.
A scale that measures body fat is offered with a great range of types and varieties on the market. Some scales of this type are simple while some others come with additional technologies that allow you to even utilize your smartphones to keep track on fat loss. Some scales are offered with nice affordability while some others are so expensive that they are only available at specific facilities. Some can be set up at your bathroom while some is of recent invention that their presence can be considered rare. The wide range of body fat scales should come as a convenience for you as you can select one according to your own personal parameters including budgetary concerns and the features it comes with. But everything should do the one thing they are intended to: Giving you precise and accurate reading on the total amount of fat your body has. This, however, raises some further questions in the process: Just how accurate are body fat scales?
Do they really do anything for you?
The basic mechanism a scale that measures body fat uses relies on a technology called bioelectrical impedance. You would have to step on the sensors installed on the scale. An electrical current would then flow from one of your legs upward. Bear in mind that this current is barely noticeable so you should not worry about discomfort much less injury. As the current flows up to your pelvis and down to your other leg, your muscle becomes the prime indicator to count fat mass. Muscles contain much more water than it does fat so they are perfect as conductors. If the electrical current runs through greater resistance, it means the muscles contain more body fat than it does water as fat is a poor electrical conductor. Information on this resistance is taken by the scale to calculate with formulas that also make use of other data you have inputted beforehand including gender, age, weight, and height.
However, a scale that measures body fat that uses this mechanism is not always accurate. As a matter of fact, inaccuracy would be the primary factor that you should take into account when considering buying one. There are just too many variables that may lead to inaccurate readings: hydration level, last meal or exercise, feet conditions (callous or dirty). This is not to mention that the product itself could be faulty right from the manufacturer. Different products turn in different outcomes by a large margin, making it all the more confusing. The manual of some scales even states that the product may not be as accurate when used by those with osteoporosis, children, professional athletes, or the elderlies.
So, do you really need a scale that measures body fat? To say that you definitely need a scale like this is somewhat misleading. A regular scale may not be capable of informing you about how much muscle or fat you lose but there is no fixed standard when it comes to ideal body fat. The commonly accepted measurements are 11-21% for men and 23-33 for women. But this standard is not even that reliable as some people, athletes for example, have less body fat regardless of their gender or age.
A scale that measures body fat might be able to tell you the amount of fat your body has but it can never tell you about body fat distribution—which is the most important thing to discover. Piles of fat around the abdominal area affect the risk of cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancers, and diabetes. On the other hand, fat found around the hips and thighs may not be a source of disease as it could offer some protective purposes.
Still some experts advise that a scale that measures body fat can be advantageous. When used correctly, a body fat scale may be able to offer a significant reading on the change of body fat percentage over time, making it a useful tool to help those struggling with body weight stay motivated. But you need to keep in mind that fat loss is not something that occurs on daily basis as there is some interval in between the changes.
A scale that measures body fat that comes with fancy features and distinct stylishness might be convenient to use and pretty to look at but all of these do not directly correlate with how well a product performs and how accurate it can do its job. There are other methods you can choose to get a better reading on body fat percentage. You can simply measure your BMI, for example, using any available calculator online (or any calculator, really) to get a more comprehensive reading instead.