Body Fat Percentage Scale: Get the Whole Story


Appearances matter.

How often does a passing remark, comment, or criticism make or break your day? 

More times than we'd like to admit.

Why? 

Because we live in a largely superficial world, one in which we measure our self-worth based on how we are perceived.

Intentionally or unintentionally, we have become preoccupied almost to the point of obsession with setting the right impression.

And how is this connected to body fat percentage, body fat monitors, obesity, or anything else you thought this blog would be about?

Everything! 

In our quest to control how others see us, we micromanage and criticize every aspect of our appearance, including our weight.

The thriving cosmetic surgery industry is a clear indicator of how our thoughts and lives are centered around how we look.

image of lady with body fat percentage scale

We spend thousands of dollars on a yearly average on products that will alter or hide what we construe as imperfections—eye, hair, and skin color, scars, and freckles, height, or other body proportions, to name a few.

An above-average body size no longer means unhealthy, and healthy isn't synonymous with being skinny. 

So, what is?

Body Composition and Body Weight

Science teaches us that the human body comprises bones, muscles, fat cells, and water. Knowing what we know, why does it shock us to see a big number flash on the LCD on a scale? After all, 60% of the average human adult's body comprises water.

Simple. 

A bathroom scale measures how much we weigh, but it provides no insight into the composition of our body or its fat percentage. Since greater muscle mass attributes to a leaner appearance, we're conditioned from an early age to believe that the bigger we are, the unhealthier we must be just by the way we look.

Anxious about weight gain and being categorized as obese, we latch on to the trendiest diet that offers the quickest weight loss results, failing to realize the stress we put our body through or even that we only lose body water percentage. 

All fat people are candidates for heart disease. 

Just the mere thought drives us to run up the stairs at the office, cycle to work, sweat it out on a treadmill, or lift weights—all in the hopes of shedding that additional weight.

But what happens when we stand on the scale the next time? It puzzles us to see the same number. Worse still is the fizzled motivation and frustration we feel when the number is higher.

What Other Explanation Could There be?

A bathroom scale is all-inclusive. It is a gadget that is as revered as it is feared. A standard, everyday bathroom scale. The little piece of glass or metal that creaks and groans as you step on it. Whether digital or analog, it earns a shriek of disbelief and a hasty dismount as you weigh in on what the numbers mean. 

It shows us a number but leaves its interpretation to our imagination. It spits out digits that saturate our nightmares. However, a simple analysis could clarify that the result depicts simultaneous fat loss and an equivalent gain in muscle mass. 

Without a body composition result, we believe that nothing changed or that we're worse off than when we started.

It makes us leave what could have been the path to a healthier lifestyle where we would have attained our healthy body goals faster with positive, insightful results.

What Alternatives Should I Consider?

Body Fat Bathroom Scales

Wouldn't you love to know whether the pound you gained overnight indicated an increase in muscle mass, fat deposit, or water retention? 

Decode, demystify, and analyze. 

Fortunately, we don't live in the 1980s or '90s. Today, a bathroom scale no longer has a large, red needle with the sole function of swinging left or right. 

With all the gadgets and appliances that help redefine how we measure our health, why not try a Body Fat Bathroom Scale?

How Do They Work?

A Body Fat Bathroom Scale uses a technology called bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). It employs a fundamental principle of Physics known as conductivity. When the user steps on the body fat monitor, an imperceptible electrical current travels through the body. 

The speed at which the current travels allows the machine to determine the percentage of fat, muscle, and body water. The electrical current faces the greatest resistance from fat than muscle due to higher water content in lean tissue. The calculations as such, are fairly accurate.

What Else Should I Know?

  • Body Fat Scales are affordable. 
  • BIA does not result in any discomfort. 
  • You can buy a smart scale or a handheld device.
  • Both kinds of devices are user-friendly. 

Are Smart Scales Accurate?

While Body Fat Scales are safe to use, it is true that they provide only rough estimates and the results are influenced by external factors and variables that include:

  • Physical changes like menstruation
  • Gap between your last intake of food or water and the reading
  • Gender - women tend to have more body fat than men
  • Pregnancy
  • Age
  • Where the body fat is stored
  • Height and Built of an individual
  • Exposure to endurance or resistance training

The Pros and Cons of Body Fat Bathroom Scales

The only advantage of this scale is that you can measure your body fat at any time in the comfort of your home. You do not need to visit a gym or a clinic.

While these scales are convenient no doubt, they are not accurate and hence not completely reliable.

Another demerit of this scale is that it can only give you an overall percentage and not a clear picture of where on the body the fat is stored. A concentration of body fat around the midsection is a cause for concern compared to body fat in the arms or thighs.

Body Fat Percentage vs Body Mass Index

BMI is considered a more reliable indicator of comprehensive health compared to the body fat scale since it provides an overall picture of whether your weight range is ideal for your age and height.

The table below highlights the interpretation of BMI range with its corresponding weight status  as per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

BMI                Weight Status

Below 18.5    Underweight

18.5 – 24.9    Normal / Healthy Weight

25.0 – 29.9    Overweight

30.0 +           Obese

You can also use an online calculator from a trusted source to determine your BMI.

What Body Fat Scale Should I Consider?

The FitTrack Dara uses bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) to do more than just give you a reading about your weight and body fat or water percentage. It covers 17 health parameters that provide users with a holistic view of their health. Some of these features include:

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Total Body Weight
  • Standard Weight (custom-made weight loss goal based on the avg. healthy weight for a user's age and height)
  • Weight Control option (the difference between your body weight and your Standard Weight)
  • Total Body Fat readings
  • Body Age calculation 
  • Hydration Level 
  • Protein Percentage
  • Bone Mass readout (keep track of bone density changes)

Dara Body Fat Scales

The FitTrack Dara (available on Amazon) has helped over 600,000 users reach their fitness goals by highlighting motivating factors. It allows users to identify key concerns and address them by providing insightful data about their body composition. It minimizes trial-and-error and enhances the effectiveness of workout while making fitness goals as practical as possible. 

The most accurate body composition digital scale in its class.

Most Loved Features

The FitTrack Dara has earned recognition for several reasons.

  • It provides personal insights
  • Allows you to track your goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis
  • Employs easy-to-use charts
  • Adjusts for beginner mode and athlete mode
  • Monitors and recognizes data of up to eight users via individual smartphones or a single, connected app
  • Syncs with Apple Health, Google Fit, Fitbit, and other popular fitness apps 
  • Long-lasting battery and chic design
  • Bluetooth enabled; doesn't require wi-fi to connect to your phone

Omron vs Tanita vs FitTrack Dara

Several manufacturers such as Omron and Tanita have produced body fat analyzers using BIA as well. 

Omron focused on hand-to-foot sensors as it offers holistic and accurate metrics than foot-to-foot sensors. However, the accuracy of an Omron scale is questionable when it comes to readings compared to DEXA scans results. Since Omron models measure only seven fitness indicators, FitTrack Dara with its 17 features is widely preferred.

While the Tanita brand is considered a world leader in electronic scales, users have reported that body fat measurements were not consistent in its smart scales. Tanita's partnership with Ironman also means that their products benefit the athletic population more than the average weight watcher. Their digital scales also measure 7-8 fitness indicators, which are significantly fewer than FitTrack Dara.

Another factor to consider is the metrics—Tanita BIA is within +/-5% of DEXA, whereas FitTrack Dara is within +/-3%.

What Alternatives Can I Consider to Measure Body Fat?

An increase in a bathroom scale reading doesn't necessarily imply unhealthy weight gain, but having a doctor jab you in the stomach and proclaim you have too much visceral fat is. Fat, as you know, is broadly divided into two groups, subcutaneous and visceral. While subcutaneous fat refers to the fat stored below the skin, visceral fat is stored around the body's vital organs in the abdominal area. This makes it far more dangerous than its counterpart as it directly impacts our organs' functioning.

An increase in visceral fat is also an indication of potential health issues such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Impaired liver function

One of the more traditional ways of assessing our body health is to measure body fat gain or fat loss in key areas of the body. For this reason, an increase in waist circumference would earn a frown, while an increase in arm circumference, especially if you've spent hours lifting weights, would be a matter of pride.  

Let’s Look At Some Of The Ways To Track Body Fat

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a basic calculation that uses height and age to determine a person's ideal weight. It allows users to decide whether they fit in the below-average, average, or above-average (obese) weight group. Although this quick and easy method is popular in clinics across the world, like the bathroom scale, it offers numbers that give no insight into a person's actual health. 

Body Fat Percentage (BFP)

While BMI isn't a decisive tool to measure overall health, it can play a crucial role in how we interpret numbers when combined with a BFP reading. For instance, if we gain weight and fall out of our ideal BMI range, this reading can tell us whether we've gained muscle mass or fat. It will help us decide whether our workout is sufficient or if we need to increase our activity levels and reconsider our food choices. 

Skinfold Calipers

Another popular yet conventional method of measuring an individual’s comprehensive health is through skinfold calipers or fat calipers. The tool measures a person's skin fold widths at predetermined seven important areas of the body and converts those numbers through a simple formula to determine a person's body fat ratio.

Since the formula doesn't change, the results depend entirely on the technician's experience and accuracy in collecting the measurements. 

Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) Scans

DEXA scans are commonly performed at university healthcare facilities. They use ionizing radiation in minor doses to track results, including bone mineral density. While one energy estimates a person's bone mineral content, the second measures a person's soft tissue composition. Aside from being quick, painless, and non-invasive, it is a popular procedure as it has considerably accurate readings. 

For those worried about their fat levels, this scan can offer valuable insight into exact locations of fat deposits, including the abdomen. That being said, a single scan can put you back $125 (baseline), making it unsuitable for regular health checks. Besides, the cost of a scan varies and it's advisable to consult your health care and insurance provider.

Handheld Fat Measurement Devices

Like a Body Fat Monitor, a handheld fat measurement device uses bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) to determine a user's fat percentage. While they're easy to use and inexpensive, the readings fall short as the electrical current passes from arm to arm and doesn't measure visceral fat. When used in silos, results from a handheld fat measurement device will not be a true indicator of a user’s overall health. 

Underwater Weight (Hydrodensitometry) Test

A Hydrostatic (or underwater) weight test determines a person's body fat percentage by how much they float when submerged underwater. For the test to be accurate, a person is required to exhale completely to decrease lung volume. 

While it is estimated that a hydrostatic test has greater accuracy than skin calipers and similar methods, the cost of the test outweighs its benefits. As the test is generally conducted at a university or research center, its limited access makes it an impractical option.

Bod Pod

The Bod Pod uses the principle of air displacement to determine a person's body volume and weight. Although straightforward, the process involves multiple steps and calculations, varying from calculating a person's lung volume measurement to measuring the Bod Pod while it's empty and occupied, among others. 

While it's a reasonably accurate test, errors in lung volume measurement can affect the result. It has also been recorded that the Bod Pod cannot measure lean mass and fat mass in the body, thus proving somewhat inaccurate for lean people. 

Conclusion 

Whatever your fitness goals or comfort levels, the readily available and budget-friendly FitTrack Dara remains a cost-effective and accurate partner in your quest for a healthier body.