Forget the Pounds — Get A Body Fat Scale!

Get a body fat scale. Although there may be some value to weighing yourself with a regular body weight scale, your body weight doesn’t tell you your body composition; ie: how fat or lean you are. Choose a body fat scale reviewed here that fits your budget.

(Joe’s Feet)

DO YOU weigh yourself every day, perhaps thinking that by doing this you’ll be more diligent about catching the extra pounds that sneak up on you?

Do you think this works?

Well, according to a study published on NCBI,

Weighing everyday matters: Daily weighing improves weight loss and adoption of weight control behaviors.

OK, fine, but weighing yourself on a day-to-day basis will not tell you about four biometrics, only one of which you probably care about.

Read on to find out how often you should weigh yourself and why an electrical impedance scale that measures your body fat is way more valuable than one that simply weighs the pounds.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • Why weighing yourself each day may or may not be useful;
  • That a simple body weight scale weighs extraneous, unhelpful biometrics;
  • Why a body fat scale is the only scale you should use; and
  • Four good body fat scales, one which will fit your budget.

Let’s dive in…

 

The Limitation of Daily Weigh-ins On A Body Weight Scale

What your body parts weigh

(Credit: Examine.com)

The supplement info site Examine.com presents a good review of what your body weight scale will not tell you day-to-day:

  1. How much poop is being weighed;
  2. How much urine is being weighed;
  3. How glycogen storage (from carbohydrates) is affecting your weight; and
  4. How fat tissue changes are affecting your weight.

Which of those five do you care about?

I’ll give you my answer: #5. (Read on for why.)

What Your Body Weight Scale Measures

On any given day, it’s unlikely that the mass of your and your neighbor’s feces and urine are the same; they vary substantially among different people and will affect the numbers on your body weight scale, anywhere from 15 grams to 1.5 kg (0.03 to 3.3 pounds).

As you might imagine, the heavier you are, the heavier is the poop, simply because larger people eat more.

The amount urinated is also very variable, ranging from 0.6 kg to 2.6 kg (1.3 pounds to 5.7 pounds). Thus, if you weigh yourself before voiding, that urine weight will be recorded as body weight.

Though poop and pee matter given their influence on body weight, it’s glycogen storage that matters more. Glycogen storage is the main difference maker. That’s because poop and pee don’t differ for a particular individual on a daily basis, but all you need do is eat low-carb foods for three days and your glycogen levels will diminish by about two-thirds.

The average person stores around 500 grams of combined glycogen in their muscles and liver (even 1000 grams in some people), and that glycogen is bound to water, which adds additional weight.

This translates to a glycogen contribution of five to ten percent of your liver weight and two percent of your muscle weight, which underscores the fact that your daily carb intake can substantially affect your body weight.

Thus, if you’re ready to dance the gig cause you somehow managed to lose a pound or two over the last 24 hours, or want to pout cause you gained a pound or more – know that this is not indicative of actual body fat changes, but rather due to the combined effect of glycogen, poop, and pee.

That said, there is some value to using a basic body weight scale to weigh yourself daily.

The Benefits of Daily Weigh-ins

At this point you may be asking yourself,

“Given that daily weigh-ins don’t tell the tale of what’s actually happening with body weight, why weigh myself every day”.

The answer has to do with psychology and technology.

A study called the WEIGH Trial addressed both, and it concluded that:

Daily weighing is emerging as the recommended self-weighing frequency for weight loss. This is likely because it improves adoption of weight control behaviors.

The technology part of the study was the use of a “Wi-Fi scale”, which made tracking results accurate and easy.

The psychology part was that participants in the study were sent weekly e-mailed lessons and tailored feedback on daily weighing adherence and weight loss progress.   This hand holding improved compliance and led the researchers to conclude:

Weighing everyday led to greater adoption of weight control behaviors and produced greater weight loss compared to weighing most days of the week. This further indicates daily weighing as an effective weight loss tool.

This daily weigh-in routine, however, is not for everyone.

The Negatives of Daily Weigh-ins

Although most of the participants in the Weigh Trial benefited from daily weigh-ins on a body weight Wi-Fi scale, for some people there’s drawbacks.

Examine.com reports these potential negatives when weighing yourself daily at home in real life as opposed to participating in a study:

  • Overeating on one day makes it less likely that you’ll weigh-in the next day.
  • You might get jaded over time, thinking that the practice is not useful.
  • Some people may have negative psychological side effects from daily weighing, such as disordered eating or lowered self-esteem.

So, what should you do?

The Bottom Line On Daily Weigh-ins

It’s not useful for everyone:

  • Some people will adhere much better to a healthy diet if there’s a scale holding them accountable.
  • Some may experience great weight loss for a few weeks, then get frustrated during weight loss plateaus or actually gain weight.
  • Some may even experience side effects, such as letting the scale weight determine their self worth, developing disordered eating, etc.

The bottom line is that you’re the one to judge if it’s useful for you.

The best-controlled study thus far showed amazing results — 13 pounds of weight loss over six months. This makes self-weighing more favorable than most weight loss habits.

If you have a hard time adhering to a healthy eating plan, do consider daily weighing, as it shows better results than most any intervention… but do it with a body fat scale, not a body weight scale.

 

Get Yourself A Body Fat Scale

Despite the fact that the WEIGH Trial indicates that daily weigh-in on a body weight scale may help you lose weight, what you don’t know is the composition of that lost weight.

I already mentioned was how feces, urine and glycogen stores affect body weight, and I also said that it’s “How fat tissue changes are affecting your weight” that matters most.

Although there are many ways to measure body fat, if you want to do it daily and easily, you need a body fat scale.

That picture at the top of this blog post is a picture of me, or my feet, standing on my Tanita BC534 Glass InnerScan Body Composition Monitor, which looks like this:

(Click the scale for more info.)

 

Like most other scales that measure body fat (see below), the Tanita body fat scale uses Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA) to monitor multiple components of overall health, including weight, body water percent, bone mass, daily caloric intake, metabolic age, and of course, body fat.

The pic of my feet on the scale shows my body fat at 2o.9% (yeah, I gasped too), but in my case it’s doubtful that I’m that fat. Other measures of body fat – most importantly, realistic comparisons with verified pictures of other males (or females) – indicates that my body fat right now is about 18%.

Does this discrepancy make a body fat scale worthless?

No, for two reasons:

  1. Some body fat scales (see below) do a better job of estimating body fat; and
  2. Even if a bit inaccurate, body fat scales are accurate and measuring the variance in your body fat percent measurement, either up or down.

In may case, then, if next week my Tanita body fat scale shows my body fat to be 19.9%, that one point difference would most likely be accurate.

Therefore, the ultimate value of the body fat scales is that they show you the extent to which you’re lowering or increasing your body fat composition, and thereby whether or not whatever lifestyle changes you’re making (diet and exercise) are working.

So, which one should you buy?

In addition to mine, the Tanita, consider the following three.

 

The Nokia Body Cardio May Be Best

I’m no expert on body fat scales, so I looked around to see if I could find a source that makes some comparisons, and found three evaluated in The Best Smart Scale, posted by Gear Advice.

Their top pick for the money is the Nokia Body Cardio, “because it is the most accurate and it offers the most features including the ability to measure your body fat, BMI, muscle, bone mass and water. It also syncs wirelessly with Nokia own app and with Apple’s HealthKit to provide you with deep, comprehensive summary of your everyday measurements.”

Nokia body fat scale

 

  • The most accurate and offers the most features of any smart scale
  • Syncs wirelessly with Withings own app and with Apple’s HealthKit to provide you with a comprehensive summary
  • Provides daily local weather forecast to help you plan your outfit
  • Stable on the ground and easy-to-read display

About $180 on Amazon.com

 

 

The Choice If You’re In The FitBit Ecosystem

If you use any Fitbit fitness tracker then consider the Fitbit Aria WiFi Smart Scale. Performing like other smart scales, it syncs automatically through your home Wi-Fi network. The Fitbit Aria can recognize up to eight different people in your household and can handle 350 pounds of heft. It’s powered by four AA batteries and designed to work in a humid bathroom environment.

The major drawback is that the data doesn’t sync with Apple’s Health app.

Fitbit Aria body fat scale

 

  • Powered by 4 AA batteries
  • Can recognize up to eight different users
  • Designed to work in a humid environment

 

 

 

About $100 on Amazon.com

 

 

Yunmai — Great value given its features

Although its app isn’t on par with Nokia Body Cardio, Yunmai Bluetooth Body Fat scale offers many of the same features at less than half the price. And it syncs Apple’s Health app.

The Yunmai app requires that you open it while being weighed for the data to be transferred to your phone, and sometimes the app doesn’t work straight away, requiring you to get off the scale and weigh yourself again.

 

Yunmai body fat scale

  • Syncs with Apple Health, Fitbit, and more.
  • 10 body measurements including body fat, BMI, muscle, hydration, bone mass and more.
  • Five-year warranty.
  • Can track up to 16 users.
  • Requires that you open the Yunmai app in order to sync data with Apple’s Health app. Can sometimes fail to transfer information.

 

About $50 on Amazon.com

 

One of those three choices, as well as the Tanita I use, should do a good job of enabling you to track what’s happening to your body fat as you strive to get leaner.

 

Your Takeaway

Just remember three things:

  1. Whether or not weighing yourself each day is useful to you relative to attaining your weight loss (or gain) goals may only be answered by trying it and see if it makes a difference.
  2. A regular body weight scale doesn’t give you enough information to really understand what’s happening with your body composition; meaning, how much fat you’re losing/gaining.
  3. A body fat scale is the most accurate way to quickly, regularly and inexpensively measure your body fat.  Yes, something like a dexa scan is more accurate than a body fat scale, but you’d have to find a facility that offers it, get there and pay more for it each time than what the body fat scale costs.  What body fat scales do well enough is to measure your change in body fat composition, so you can obtain the feedback you need to know if your dietary and exercise choices are making a difference. Do yourself a favor and buy one!
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Joe Garma
 

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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