What Is a Body Composition Scale and How Does It Work?

Body Composition

You do not see a slight movement in the scale even though you exercise daily and eat healthy food. Instead of being disheartened, assess your body fat percentage. Body fat measurement is as essential as overall body weight if your goal is weight loss. It’s because health club habits lead to muscle mass building. The lack of movement in the scale could be due to increased muscle mass. Another reason might be fat loss in the case of a toned body.

Even if you don’t want to lose fat, the body fat scale can help determine a healthy fat-to-muscle ratio. The accuracy of the scales is still a question, but it is a good option for assessing body fat.

What Are Body Fat Scales, And How Accurate Are They?

What Are Body Fat Scales, And How Accurate Are They

Body Fat Scales:

These technologies can determine a person’s weight and body composition. It utilizes a technique known as bioelectrical impedance analysis for body fat measurement. You must step on a small sensor that sends a small and unnoticeable electric current up from one leg and down from the other. It measures the total resistance current hits along its way.

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As we know, fat is a poor conductor of electricity compared to other parts. Therefore, the more resistance the current experience, the higher the number of fats is. These scales are also suitable for measuring body weight and are easy to connect with your smartphone or tablet. Hence, tracking your weight and body measurements over time will be easy. Isn’t it a great idea to monitor your progress?

Accuracy Of Body Fat Scales:

Well, we see a big question mark regarding body fat scale accuracy. Are you also curious whether body fat scales are reliable or not? The short and simple answer is no. Even though there is no doubt that they are very convenient to use. But still, it’s unfortunate that they are not very accurate. The best they can do for you is they can provide a rough idea of your body fat percentage.

The studies favor the body fat scale being tiny in number. But generally, much evidence has proved the inaccuracy of scales. Because sometimes they tend to overestimate body fat percentage.

Their inaccuracy was proven in a September 2012 study published in the “Obesity.” It was conducted on 43 overweight men. It revealed that body fat scales produced poor results compared to X-ray absorptiometry.

Factors That Affect Accuracy:

Even though body fat scales are safe to use. But some factors influence results. These aspects are:

  • The gender. It matters because females contain more body fat than men.
  • The part of a body in which fat is stored.
  • These scales are not recommended to use during pregnancy.
  • These scales don’t work for children.
  • Height and body structure.
  • Frequent resistance and endurance training.

Pros and Cons of Using Them:

The incredible benefit of these scales is that you can use them at home. There is no need to go to a gym or a clinic. But sadly, these scales can’t be declared entirely accurate. So, please don’t depend on them as the sole source of overall health analysis.

The body fat scales also don’t consider other aspects relevant to body fat. For example, it doesn’t specify the area where you have body fat. Doctors are very concerned about the fat concentration around the midsection because it enhances the risk of certain health conditions like heart disease.

These scales are effective enough to talk about the total fat mass. But it can specify where in the body potentially dangerous fat is present.

Body Fat Vs. BMI:

Body mass index uses data on an individual’s height and weight to have a general idea of whether weight will affect his health. It’s an excellent tool for determining whether someone is underweight or overweight. So, you can say that weight management is possible via this device. But it is not a source of measuring body fat directly.

It also doesn’t consider a person’s muscle mass. Exercise is a source of losing fat and gaining muscle mass. We know that muscles are denser than fat. Therefore, it might be possible that a person’s weight increases due to a workout.

Body fat percentage (BFP) and body mass index (BMI) measurements can be used together to influence dietary and workout decisions. A person should see a doctor if the value is greater than usual because more significant numbers reflect a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. On the contrary, BMI and BFP values less than recommended range also indicates health risks.

The Limitation of Standard Scales?

The Limitation of Standard Scales

To have a better idea of overall health, it’s better to start your day with a body composition measurement. Regardless, what is your fitness goal or whether you are progressing? Unfortunately, using a regular weight scale for fitness journey evaluation can lead to the wrong outcome. Standard scales are suitable for measuring weight in kilos and pounds. But it doesn’t show any real-time changes in fat and body mass.

What Is a Body Composition Scale?

What Is a Body Composition Scale

This device is helpful for the accurate measurement of body composition. Furthermore, it generates a report on the fitness goals you have set. This scale considers the below-given factors for body fat mass:

  • Total body water content.
  • Body fat percentage.

A body composition scale is a source of getting accurate measurements of your body and your body shape. This whole process merely takes just 35 seconds.

How Does a Body Composition Scale Work?

How Does a Body Composition Scale Work

This scale takes advantage of the technology known as biometrical impedance analysis. It is a source of providing information about the comprehensive measurements of health and fitness progress. The body composition scale uses a safe and minimal electric current to pass through the body. For that purpose, you only need to be at the base of the scale.

The electric current pass through the following areas at different speeds:

  • Body water
  • Body fat
  • Bone muscle mass

It measures this speed to figure out the body composition of these elements. The analysis of the body composition scale use formulas and personal information like age and gender. The majority of scales are meant to convey a variety of helpful information, such as:

Basal Metabolic Rate:

It is the number of calories you burn while doing essential life-sustaining functions.

Metabolic Age:

You burn several calories at rest compared to an average BMR of your chronological age in the general population.

Bone Density:

The total amount of minerals in a given volume of bone. These minerals are mainly calcium and phosphorus.

Physique Rating:

It asses body fat levels and muscles. It also educates you about the type of body you have. When you start exercising and eating healthier, it usually takes a while to witness actual results.

Muscle Quantity:

The amount of power or strength per unit of muscle mass contains.

Muscle Mass:

The number of muscles present in your body.

Body Water Percentage:

The amount of water in the body is expressed as a percentage of your total body weight.

Visceral Fat:

It is fat wrapped around the organs deep within the belly. This is usually found in the liver and intestine.

Body Fat Percentage:

The proportion of the body that is made up of fat.

Structure Of Body Composition Scales:

These scales are divided into different compartments. They show the number of components that this tool is capable of measuring. These compartments are various body elements that collectively form a bodyweight—the chance of error decreases in case of more components measurement.

Let’s look at what different body mass composition scale compartments measure.

  • 2C measures fat mass and lean body mass.
  • 3C measures fat mass, lean body mass, and bone mineral content.
  • 4C measures multiple components.

Are They Accurate?

Are they accurate

The main issue is that these devices are susceptible to dehydration. As a result, strictly following the recommendations for weighing yourself is critical. Time of day, food, and fluid intake matter a lot. In females, the menstrual cycle can influence the reading of a scale. However, considering all factors, they are an easy source to use at home. They help a lot in weight management and keep track of fat loss progress.

There are also handheld versions that use the same technology. But always remember, you will get what you pay. In simple words, a high price means high accuracy.

The Benefits of a Body Composition Scale:

Benefits of a body composition scale

If you invest in a body composition scale, you will get a chance to reap so many benefits.

Convenient:

These scales are lightweight and safe to use. It provides a consistent measurement that helps in tracking the effectiveness of the following:

  • Exercise regimen
  • Training
  • Diet over time

Consistency:

It ensures that a person can comfortably weigh oneself at any time of day. This provides ease of tracking performance daily. The element of consistency is an integral part of a successful fitness plan. Furthermore, it allows you to track real-time progress.

Easily Useable:

The results of the body composition scale are easy to read because of being displayed on LED screens. Furthermore, screens are backlit to allow easy reading in dark conditions. Some of them have an additional feature of synchronization with mobile apps. This leads to a streamlined fitness plan.

Additional Features:

The analog scales provide insight into the weight only. At the same time, these scales also offer a better insight into the other body areas. These body areas include body fat, muscle mass, and many more. They are all linked to your general health in some way.

Features To Look for When Buying a Body Composition Scale:

Features to look when buying a composition scale

We are now well aware of the advantages we will get from the body composition scale. Therefore, we can’t afford to make any mistakes in selecting these scales. So, there are some features to look for if you want to reap the benefits of scales.

Display:

The ideal scale has an extensive and clear display to make reading easy. Because an individual reads the screen while standing on the device. A wireless display device is also available as an option. You can mount it on the wall to view figures easily.

Data Displayed:

The ideal scale must provide a comprehensive data set on your overall health. The data provided should be simple to comprehend. It is also essential that it stays on screen for a more extended period to become easy to use. Never use those devices that flash information, and it passes quickly. It becomes hard to follow the data. The best tool must have a feature of redisplaying data without needing to weigh yourself again.

Easy To Use Controls:

It is essential to look for a device that has easy-to-use controls. Furthermore, effortless programming and interface are also necessary to look for.

User Information:

The scale must provide enough data on individual information for all gym members or family members who use it daily. Some also offer a guest profile facility for visitors who want to use it. Well, you don’t have to store their profile permanently.

Instruction Manual:

Instructions for setup and use should be written in simple terminology. It would be easy to comprehend the given instructions. There should be helpful diagrams in the manual to understand usage easily. The presence of advice on interpreting the results for each variable you measure will be a plus point.

Innovative Features:

Few body composition scales have a feature of Wi-fi connectivity. This enables keeping track of your profile via the app or website. It eliminates the need to note daily measurements on paper.

Alternative Methods-Other Ways to Measure Body Fat:

You can use various methods to determine your body fat percentage.

DEXA Scan:

This is designed for the measurement of bone density. But it is also effective for measuring body composition too. They are available only in advanced medical facilities or large university research centers.

Air Displacement Plethysmography:

This is also commonly known as BodPod. This tool analyzes body volume vs. body weight. It is considered accurate and comparable with underwater weighing. This is famous as a gold standard procedure. These pods look like a giant egg in which you sit. They are usually found at universities and elite sports facilities.

Skinfold Calipers:

The measurement of body composition with this simple tool is very common. But the help of a professional is required for this purpose—the professional measures different sides of the body to measure fat and skin thickness. The accuracy depends on the training and skills of an experienced technician. Additionally, the quality of calipers has a significant impact on accuracy.

Ultrasound:

The thickness of an individual’s fat and muscular tissue is measured with this equipment. It then uses the following information to calculate body fat percentage:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Sex

The measurement of this device is considered very accurate.

Waist Measurement:

The body fat scale accuracy is a big question mark because it doesn’t depict the amount of fat the body holds around the waistline. It is considered a vital risk for:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Fatty liver disease

Body waistline measurement can complement the body fat scale results.

Females with a waist circumference of more than 35 inches have a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. On the other hand, men with a waist measurement of greater than 40 inches are prone to them. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have published these facts.

Handheld Measurement Devices:

These devices function similarly to a body fat scale; the only difference is it doesn’t measure weight. The sensors are on the other side of the device to measure your body fat. The device evaluates fat composition when you hold it in front of you. They are also not accurate like other devices. But they have the advantage of easy usage and low cost.

Hydro Densitometry Test:

It is dependent on the buoyancy of the body weight. Body fat flows more conveniently than muscles. The administering person can calculate your body fat percentage by analyzing your buoyancy and weight.

Underwater testing is considered accurate for figuring out body fat composition. However, it is not easy to find a place that has the potential to perform this type of test. There are chances that this test feels uncomfortable.

Wrapping Up the Whole Discussion:

The body fat scales are not an accurate source of measuring body fat composition. But they are a good source of getting a rough idea of fat concentration in the body. When used together, the body fat scale and the BMI can give you a good idea of how healthy you are. If the combined value exceeds the normal range, immediately see a doctor. He can provide you with a piece of advice relevant to diet and exercise.

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