We’ll start with our list of our chosen top six body fat scales for 2017 as we approach the new year. This list will be updated throughout the year as new products come on the market. You can click on any of the products to visit the best deal online to buy them, or if you go further down we have a summary review of each scale where you can click through to a fuller more in depth review. Then I will cover some of the questions and issues people tend to have when purchasing a scale, measuring their progress while losing body fat and general tips, trick and how-to of owning a body fat analyzer.
Best Body Fat Analyzer 2017
|Omron BF511 Body Composition Monitor||4.9|
|Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer||4.7|
|EatSmart Body Fat Scale||4.5|
|Smart Weigh Body Fat Digital Precision Scale||4.2|
|1byone Digital Bluetooth Body Fat Scale||4.1|
|Fitbit Aria WiFi Smart Scale||4.0|
Choosing the right body fat scale for you is important and you should consider several factors that we’ll cover below.
Looking at a list of products on Amazon or in a fitness store they all list almost the same features and claim to be the most accurate scales on the market. However there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Whether you are looking for accuracy, a device that connects to your smartphone or a waterproof scale you want to be able to keep in your bathroom, we’ll cover all the issues, pros and cons of the different devices in this guide.
Omron BF511 Body Composition Monitor
Top of this list is the Omron BF511. It is not the most stylish looking scale, but it makes up for that in accuracy and ease of use. Setting up this device is easy, it took me less than 1 minute to input my age, height and gender. Then it was ready to go. I haven’t needed to go through any configuration after that. I step on the scale, choose my profile (this scale holds up to 4 people) which you can pick by pressing on one of the four buttons on the handheld monitor. Then after about 10 seconds you will have all your readings displayed. It has a smaller display below the main one that shows you the previous figures the last time your weighed yourself.
The reason for the increased accuracy is because of the handle bars that you hold with your arms straight out in front of you. This gives more contact points on your body for the scale to be able to average the value of the body fat percentage to give a more precise result. I cover how this works in more detail further down in the guide. Read Full Review.
|Most Accurate||Only stores 4 profile|
|Easy to use||Stores last reading only|
|Very durable||Not waterproof|
|Display at eye level||No smartphone integration|
Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer
The Withings scale is a good looking scale that has has design and user experience at the heart of the product. Although it only uses your feet to measure your body fat, it’s design encourages users to step on at the right points. You will have to stand very still though as rocking will cause the readings to fluctuate.
More importantly the feature that makes this scale stand out is the smartphone integration. It will allow your readings to be logged on Withings custom app or more than 100 other apps including MyFitnessPal. Another differentiating factor is you also get a heart rate monitor and air quality tracker. This is unusual to find in a body fat scale, but for those serious about their environment and how it relates to fitness then this is the perfect device for you. Before you had to weigh yourself in order to get the CO2 levels, but Withings updated the scale so that you can press the button at the top of the device to get a reading.
I would recommend this body fat analyzer for those who are more tech savvy as it will require some interest in technology for you to explore all the features of this scale and take full advantage of the phone features. Read Full Review.
|Up to 8 Profiles||Lean down to read|
|Air quality monitor||Setup takes time|
|Well Designed||Not waterproof|
|Smartphone integration||Inaccurate if not still|
EatSmart Body Fat Scale
Being able to recognise you as soon as you step on is part of the magic that makes you want to step on this scale every day. It uses EatSmart’s proprietary Automatic User Identification Technology. It will measure your body fat percentage, total body water, muscle mass and bone mass.
The other great user experience addition is that you don’t need to press any buttons to get your reading. All you have to do is “Step-on”, which is the term EatSmart uses to describe the technology. These little details although they may sound like a gimmick, in reality they do motivate you to get your readings and then act on it. When you wake up in the morning, you may be feeling lazy; this will sort out that problem for you.
As you start to approach your body fat goal and increase muscle mass a lot of body fat analyzers will tend to start being inaccurate. This is because they are calibrated for the “average person”. Some scales will have an athlete mode, which this one does. It will make the reading a lot more accurate as you start to get to the lower body fat digits. Read Full Review.
|Up to 8 Profiles||Lean down to read|
|Auto User Identification||Setup takes time|
|Athlete mode||Not waterproof|
|EatSmart “Step-On” Technology||Touch screen hard to use|
Smart Weigh Body Fat Digital Precision Scale
Similar to the EatSmart scale above this Smart Weigh Body Fat Scale will identify the you as soon as you step on to it. It is more similar in other ways in that it will also switch on as soon as you step onto it so you won’t have to lean down to press any buttons for it to work, which is what you have to do with the Omron BF511 above.
What strikes you most about this analyzer is that it is different to others in how it’s designed. It has an hourglass figure on the front which is supposed to inspire you to work towards that goal. It is a slim scale so sits low to the ground.
The readings that you will get are of course your weight plus your BMI, Body Fat, Body Water, Muscle Mass and Bone Mass. It’s a good price for it to be a scale that you use every day or to give as a gift. The only problem I see with this scale is that the manual print is very small so hard to read and doesn’t really explain what your readings mean straight away – you have to go to the manual for that and look at some charts. I will be writing an article soon about what the measurements mean and will link it here when it’s done. Read Full Review.
|Up to 8 Users||No Athlete Mode|
|User Recognition||No Smartphone Integration|
|Very Stylish||Not Waterproof|
|Smart Weigh “Step-On” Technology||Buttons not always responsive|
1byone Digital Bluetooth Body Fat Scale
If you are looking to keep track of your body indexes then this scale is a great one to do so. The reason I didn’t rate it above the Withings scale is because it can be a bit more confusing to use the app. The positive is that it uses bluetooth so even if you’re not connected to the internet it will sync your data (the FitBit scale below requires internet).
It is not waterproof so you won’t be able to keep this scale in your bathroom. It is very accurate when calculating your weight and fairly accurate at the body fat, muscle mass and BMR. This analyzer can store up to 10 user profiles which is more than the other scales on the market. The difference though is that it doesn’t have auto user recognition, the way it works is that you have to pair your phone with the scale for it to recognise you and your details.
1byone are confident of the quality of this body fat analyzer and will offer a 30 day money back guarantee and a 12 month warranty. It is also cheaper than the other scales listed here so will make a great gift. Read Full Review.
|Up to 10 Profiles||No Athlete Mode|
|Fast set up||App can be confusing|
|High Quality Tempered Glass||Not Waterproof|
|Smartphone Integration||App required to be open|
Fitbit Aria WiFi Smart Scale
Probably the sleekest body fat analyzer on the list, the Fitbit Aria comes in at number six. When you first get the scale it has its own Wifi network that you connect to with your phone, then set it up on your home network through the app. I had some trouble doing this at first, but after a few attempts it seemed to work fine afterwards.
Unlike the scale above which uses Bluetooth to communicate with your phone, this uploads all your data to Fitbit and you then access it through the app. This created a problem a few times for me when I lost internet connection I wasn’t able to access my stats.
The experience with this analyzer for me was very similar to the Withings scale above. If you do not have any other Fitbit products that you want to integrate into then I recommend you go for the Withings scale since it is cheaper and does as much as this one. However, if you want it to fit into the suite of Fitbit products then go for it. As with the other scales in this list, although their promotional photos show it placed next to bath – be careful with getting this device wet, it will corrode the display and won’t be able to use it. Read Full Review.
|Up to 8 Users||Sensitive to balance|
|Auto user recognition||Time to set up|
|Slim design||Not Waterproof|
|Smartphone Integration||Requires Internet|
How Body Fat Scales Work
With all the body fat scales mentioned above you see that they all recommend for you to take off your shoes and socks when using them and there’s a reason for that. When you stand on the scales a small painless current of electricity passes through your body. This is a method called bioelectrical impedance analysis and is used by any consumer body fat analyzer. The reason for the electric pulse is to measure the resistance of electricity as it flows through your body. Electricity conducts very well through water and since your muscles contain more water than fat does, it is used to calculate your muscle to fat ratio. So if the resistance is less then you have more muscle and if it’s higher then you have more fat.
Electricity will always try to find the shortest path from one electrode to another. So when you are standing on a scale with both your feet then the shortest path is up one leg and down the other. The pulse will go on a journey through the insides of your legs. That means the resistance measurement that you get is for that part of your body that you use to calculate body fat. For a hand held body fat analyzer the pulse will go up one arm and down another (through your chest). The reading you get for that will be for the upper part of your body.
It is not recommended that you use a body fat analyzer while you’re pregnant as you don’t want any pulses of electricity going through your body. Not only that, but the changes in your body will throw off the scale and you won’t get accurate readings. If you are pregnant and still want to use the weighing features of the scale, which doesn’t use bioelectrical impedance (only the pressure applied to the scale) then wear some thick socks before stepping on. The electricity won’t be able to pass through the socks and you will still get an accurate weight reading.
Using an electric pulse to measure your body fat isn’t the most accurate way of doing it, there are more precise ways that we’ll cover in the next sections, but it provides a good every day indication for you to use.
Body Fat Analyzer Accuracy
I’ve described above how the device uses an electrical pulse to get a resistance value to turn it into a body fat percentage, but what’s the formula used to do this and how do they come up with it? Well the way it’s done is the scale is calibrated during the product development phase. The company will take a sample of people (roughly 100 is usually enough) and measure their body fat percentage using a more precise/accurate method covered below. Then they measure their resistance values when they step on their product. They will then map the resistance values to body fat percentage. It is split first between male and female, so they each have their separate mappings. Then age and weight is interpolated through age and weight for the mappings to get a formula where if you input a gender, age, weight and electrical resistance it will find a body fat percentage.
You can see from the method described that the more data you have the more accurate you’ll be in estimating someone’s body fat. I know from knowledge in the industry (and calling around the relevant people) that Omron has the largest sample size, which is one of the reasons it is top of the list. Another reason it is top of the list is because of the handle bars. As I’ve described above when a pulse is sent through your body, it will try to find the shortest path. Either up one leg and down another or up one arm and down another. We know from DEXA scans that your body fat percentage is not consistent throughout your body, it is higher in some areas than others depending on your genetics. Because of the handle bars on the Omron BF511 instead of only having two points of contact in your feet like most scales, you have four.
When they did the product development at Omron they didn’t only try to interpolate the body fat percentages for the whole body to the legs value that you get from most scales. They did two formulas, one for the arms and one for the legs. This is then averaged out, giving you a more accurate result. I have tested this out myself by doing a BodyPod scan and compare my measurements to all the body fat analyzer above and Omron came consistently on top for accuracy.
I know there are companies out there that are creating products with even more contact points for example 8 which is double the current best. I am following the product development closely of these new devices and will update the list when I have more information and am able to share. Apart from more contact points and more data I don’t know of any products being developed that are radically changing the way we measure body fat. If you are aware of any, please let me know in the comments section below and would be happy to investigate it. I would love to see a new technology come on the market that will revolutionize the industry, plus it will be a new toy to play with and experiment on. In fact I would say that it’s inevitable.
So there can be some inaccuracies in your readings, but there are ways you can overcome this by weighing yourself at a certain time and in a certain state, which I will cover in more detail tomorrow. The technology has come a long way and I’m happy that you can get these results in seconds where you had to wait for hours a few decades ago or use body fat calipers, which I will also describe how to use in the section below.
Best Time to Weigh yourself
I’ve spent the last few months weighing myself and getting my body fat percentage at different times of the day and different states. It does vary a lot to the point where you can be happy at the start of the day and unhappy because your figures changed by the end of the day. The best time I have found is when my body is in the most repeatable state. For me that is in the morning when I wake up and after I’ve gone to the toilet.
If I weigh myself at night, I’m never certain how much weight my dinner has added to me or the water I’ve drank so I can’t call it a repeatable state as it will be different every night. In the morning when I wake up I would be fasting for about 10 hours because of sleep and I wouldn’t have eaten 2 hours before going to bed. This has provided me the most consistent result. For you it might be different depending on what your daily routine is. I also have found that measuring before going to the gym and immediately after gives different results. Both times are fine as long as you stick to it.
Don’t be discouraged by daily fluctuations when you measure yourself. It will change depending on how hot or cold you as well as a bunch of other factors. How I would approach it from a mind-set is to measure yourself every day, but don’t think about the figure. Then review your figures at the end of the week. The scales that automatically log your data every time you step on them help with this. However even if you don’t have this functionality, write it down in your smartphone or on a piece of paper. The most accurate result will be one that you average over a three-day period.
Seeing your body fat drop over a longer period of time will give you more motivation and show you to ignore the little bounces and bumps that you occasionally get and have no idea why your body fat suddenly increased today from yesterday when you haven’t done anything differently. This concept doesn’t only apply to body fat analyzers, I remember my father’s analog scale with a dial used to fluctuate and give me different figures depending on the time of day I used it or what I ate beforehand. Even when you do the more accurate measurements like DEXA or BodyPod, they will usually ask you to fast a few hours before showing up to your appointment and also not to have done any exercise a few hours before because it will affect your readings.
When getting the number pop up on your scale don’t go so absolute on the number and obsess about it and label yourself as “I’m 15% body fat” as it can be a little off. Use the scale as a measure of progress. As long as you are consistent with your measurements you should see it as a sign of progress.
The other issue with accuracy is that the scales have been calibrated for the average person’s body fat. It doesn’t take into account people who are more muscular and gets less accurate the lower you go in body fat. Some scales have corrected this by having an athletic mode (which I’ve indicated in the pros section). So the scales are accurate if your body fat is in the range of 10-30%. If you drop below 10 or go above 30, the fluctuations become a lot more pronounced.
The final thing I would say about this subject although not related to time is to be consistent about the clothes you wear when you measure yourself. The less the better, but then stick to it as I have found that wearing a few extra clothes does give me a different value and can fluctuate the result by up to 2 percent.
Where to store your Body Fat Analyzer
I know this may sound like a random topic, but where you store your body fat analyzer is important because so much will affect the readings. For example, a lot of the body fat scales aren’t waterproof so you have to be careful with that as I know from experience it will die very quickly after that. In the Fitbit promotional picture, it shows the scale being placed next to a bathtub. Don’t so this as it will kill it and will have to replace it.
The most important factor to get an accurate reading is to have the scales sitting on a hard surface. I have made the mistake a couple of times where I did the measurement on carpet and suddenly my body fat percentage had gone down by 5 percent over night. Although it made me happy for a few seconds, I quickly realized my mistake and corrected it. For some of the auto recognition scales I thought it was doing some sort of fingerprint analysis of my feet, but when I stepped onto one on carpet which made me much lighter it thought I was my wife which lead me to believe that they are using your previous measurements as an indication of who you are.
As I mentioned above nearly all are not waterproof so you can’t keep them in the bathroom. The reason you bought the scale in the first place is so that you can measure yourself regularly and have a sense of progress. There’s no point of putting the scale in a cupboard or a hard to reach place where you might forget it. It should be visible to you so that you get encouraged to step on when you see it. That’s why in the reviews above design was given a high priority for the scales. You need it to look nice and blend into the room. This could be your bedroom or dressing room.
I wouldn’t recommend putting the scale in a place that has too much traffic like the living room or kitchen as you’ll need to strip down to get the most accurate measurements as I mentioned above so somewhere more private is better. Although most of the scales have a guest mode where if someone new comes along they can take a quick measurement, I wouldn’t recommend overusing the scale. Using it for the programmed profiles to reduce the wear and tear and make it last longer.
How to Lose Body Fat
A lot of guides exist online and in print on how to lose fat, lose weight or gain weight so you may be thinking why do we need another? After reading tons of articles and books over the past 5 years I decided to write down my learning and experiences. Anyone who has gone through a similar journey will know that there’s a lot of trial and error to get into a flow where you’re sure of results. You will eventually get to a point where you will know your body and food. When you really understand nutrition you will be at a point where you can look at a plate of food and estimate the calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fat in the food within a 20% error. I’m getting pretty good at this now, but after a lot of tracking of my food.
When I say understand your body I mean that it won’t be a mystery to you why you’re gaining weight, losing weight or why your body fat is up or down. This clarity is in a way liberating because it will make you feel in control of the most important asset you have in your life, your body.
This article will start off with the reasons and philosophies then go into the practical advice about what you should be doing and researching. I would really advise you to read the first half before jumping into the actions.
I would use this article as a starting point. Each of the topics covered will have thousands of books written about them that can’t be covered in a few paragraphs. I hope they will provide some inspiration for more research and interest.
Although the title of this article is about weight loss or body fat loss, it applies if you are trying to gain weight or bulk up. It is titled that way because most people struggle with too much fat on their body. 70% of the USA is overweight. The same goes for the UK, Canada, Australia. In these countries the biggest causes of deaths can be prevented by lifestyle choices that people have to be willing to make.
Reasons to lose Body Fat
First we need to understand why you are here. You might say “I want to lose weight” or “I want to lose by body fat”. You will need to understand the deeper reason behind this. For example, you could say “because I want to look good on the beach”. Go deeper than this, “because I want the attention”. Why do you want the attention? “I will be happy”. I’m not saying those reasons are good or bad – I’m not judging you on it, but I think it’s important for you to really go deep to understand your reasons.
My reasons were that I wanted to spend time with family. I was approaching 30 and had a very unhealthy lifestyle with work, food and sleep. I would always tell myself that I am working extra hard now so that I can be happy, spend time with family and enjoy life.
This is typical thinking of a lot of people, to delay happiness. Thinking one day they will achieve the goal of being happy. Being happy shouldn’t be a goal, it should be an ever present state of mind.
I felt that in order to best serve my family I will need to be in the best health I can possibly achieve. I understood that living my unhealthy lifestyle was selfish. Not only was I selfish with my time, but I hope to have children one day and imposing my unhealthy lifestyle on them is something they will not have control over.
Whatever your reasons are they need to be clear in your head. When you decide to slack off for a period of time or slip, which is OK sometimes, you need to remind yourself of those reasons. I wrote a list of 5 reasons why I was going on this lifetime journey and I repeat those reasons to myself whenever I have doubts or feel lazy.
Setting Goals to Lost Body Fat
Set yourself a goal of where you want to be with your body and understand this goal. Understanding this goal is important. I see this all the time where the goal is to reach a certain weight. It’s good as a general guideline, but most of the time it’s not what you truly want. Most of the time someone will want to reach a certain body fat percentage that they call weight.
It is frustrating for me to hear someone saying I want to be 110 lbs (50 kg). When I ask why they say “because it’s a nice weight to be”. Having a 30% body fat doesn’t matter to them as long as the scales read a certain number. This is a completely wrong mind set to be in.
A better indicator of health is your body fat percentage and muscle mass rather than your weight. For men I would aim for a body fat percentage less than 15% and for women less than 25%. Ideally for men if you can maintain below 10% and women below 20% this is ideal.
I’m not going to talk much about muscle mass target here because that is more of a personal choice, although I will write about how to build muscle mass later in the article.
Don’t be ruled by the number of the scale, whether you’re up a few pounds or down should be less important to you than how much body fat and visceral fat you’re carrying.
Meditation to Lose Body Fat
To have a healthy body, you will need a healthy mind. Everyone has heard about meditation, but to most people it is something that other people do. Meditation has been such an amazing addition to my life. I started off not knowing what to do with myself during meditation.
I would recommend you go to a quiet place in your home, or if that’s too noisy, take a walk to the local park then spend 10 minutes alone and clear your mind. It is a lot harder than it sounds, trying to think of nothing takes a lot of practice.
You might do this for a day or two then stop. I urge you to just do it for a week, 10 minutes each day, even if you feel it’s useless to you on the first or second day. The results are worth it. I now meditate 30 minutes each day, it’s one of the joys of my day that I look forward to.
There is a theory that says your subconscious mind can process billions of variables at a time to come up with a solution to a problem or an idea, whereas your conscious mind is limited to 7 to 10 variables. When you have an issue or big problem that you’d like to solve where the solution is not obvious and has a lot of factors affecting it, for example a relationship problem or whether you should take a certain job or not, try meditating.
What this will do is clear your conscious mind of all thoughts to do with this problem and let your subconscious mind come up with a solution that will be a lot more well thought out than you trying to logically reason it. It is scary to stop thinking about a problem sometimes, but you have to put trust in your brain that it will find a good solution. This is probably why the phrase “sleep on it” was a wise piece of advice.
What does this have to do with weight loss? You need to be able to get your mind into a healthy way of thinking where you have control over it rather than the other way round. You will have the freedom to rule over your brain and get it to follow your desired instructions.
Lifestyle changes with Body Fat Loss
In order to have a meaningful change in your body, you will need to truly change your lifestyle. This is something that most people will struggle with because they are comfortable in the routine that they have gotten into. This includes the food you eat; the time you sleep – maybe not watching a certain TV show every night because you have something more important to do. Shopping in a different part of the food store or going to a local grocery store instead of the frozen foods section at your supermarket.
When you hear advice with facts to back it up, like the impacts of smoking on your body or that sugary drinks or alcohol are hurting your liver, how quick are you to make a change in your life? I wouldn’t advise you to always jump on the next health trend, diet or exercise program, but when there is an undeniable amount of evidence that something that you’re doing is not good for you – are you willing to change your daily habits?
This goes back to the previous section of being in control of your mind and not letting your desires rule you. To many people having discipline equates to lack of freedom, but I would argue the opposite. Having discipline means you have true freedom to do what you deep down want to happen, not so that you get a quick dopamine rush in the moment that may last a few minutes then making you feel guilty that you violated your principles.
Motivation to Lose Body Fat
The point of doing everything above is so that you have the motivation to go on this journey or continue when you have doubts. The motivation will need to come from inside you and for you to have your own reasons why you’re taking certain actions.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people making – where they say “I need a personal trainer to help motivate me” or they needed to go through a health scare like a heart attack for them to take action. These are mostly temporary fixes for a lack of motivation.
I know it sounds fluffy and it’s probably not what you came for when looking for a body fat loss article, but I would highly recommend doing the exercises above to really get you in the frame of mind to get your desired body.
Now we’ll move on to more practical every day advice of what sort of changes you should make in your life to achieve your goals.
Diet to lose Body Fat
You cannot outrun a bad diet. You will see the biggest differences in your body by changing your diet. Your body needs calories through macronutrients to keep it going, these are carbohydrates, fats and protein. However, it needs other vitamins and micronutrients for it to be satisfied. There’s a reason why you can eat a 1,500 calories pizza and still feel hungry a while later. Even though you got your fair share of calories, your body is still starving for nutrients. So you eat more to try and keep your body satisfied, but it’s not going to happen unless you eat the right foods.
Depending on what you’ve been eating so far, certain foods will be tasteless to you. For example, I didn’t enjoy broccoli, but once I stopped eating so much sugar in my diet that was overloading my taste buds I started to feel the different nuances of flavour on my tongue when eating it.
I don’t want you to go into the frame of mind that food is fuel and that it is nothing else and shouldn’t be enjoyed. I want you to have a healthy relationship with food where you appreciate the taste and nutrients that it’s giving you and be thankful for it.
The first thing I would do is to download MyFitnessPal and track your food intake for 3 days and be honest about your inputs. It will then show you all the calories and nutrients that you’re getting for that day. To help you with your inputs, here’s a link to what 100 calories of certain foods look like.
I would absolutely recommend a body fat analyzer to everyone to have in their home. They used to be very expensive pieces of machinery to have in your home, but now you can get one for less than $50. I would also recommend gifting a scale or two to friends. They will appreciate it. Your body fat is something that is still talked about infrequently compared to talking about your BMI. However it is getting more prominence and more popular recently and I hope people will understand the difference between the two.
We have a big obesity problem in this world today and knowing that you are part of that and making real effort and progress to get into a healthier shape will not only benefit you and your body, it will benefit society as a whole to have an able body that’s not low on energy contributing to our world.
As you can tell I am quite passionate about my body fat analyzers and as more come onto the market in the next few years I will be sure to purchase them, test and review them right here. If there’s anything more that you’d like me to elaborate on in this article do let me know below as I have all these scales sitting at home ready to be put through whatever other challenge you want to throw at it.