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Body Fat %

Does anyone have those scales that measure body fat%? If so do they work? I just don't know if I trust something to determine my body fat % based just on stepping on it?

I've been using measurements and the US Navy calculator based on your height and neck, waist and hip measurements to calculate my body fat percentage but would like something a little easier to do everyday.

Tue. Nov 14, 8:08am

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I like the calipers...they seem a little more accurate than the neck, waist hips. I never did like that measurement. People could make their height and weight and be totally off on the body fat, or vice versa. Regardless, you have to have someone else do it for you or your muscles will tense funny and throw your measurements off.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 10:35 AM

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Body fat scales use a technique called Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis... or BIA for short. Very simply...

A small and completely harmless electrical current is passed through your body. The electrical current passes more quickly through fat free tissue like muscle than it does through fat or bone tissue. So...

The amount of resistance to the electrical current relates to how much fat-free mass a person has and their body density. Here's the first challenge...

Like all body fat tests, body fat scales don't actually measure your body fat percentage. They determine your body density. The examiner (or the scales) then uses a formula to calculate body fat percentage based on body density. Here's the key...

These formulas just predict your body fat. Unfortunately there is no one formula that accurately predicts body fat for the whole population. Differences in age, gender, ethnicity, body size, and fitness level all have a significant affect on the results.

Most scales can account for some of the basic differences such as age and gender, but take the actual body fat percentage they give you with a pinch of salt. What does this all mean for you?

Well, whether body fat scales measure your "true" body fat percentage or not doesn't matter! As long as they can accurately monitor changes in your body composition over time, that's all you need.

Your body position, the amount of water in your body, your food intake, skin temperature and recent physical activity can all adversely affect the results of body fat scales. So...

To achieve accurate, consistent results, you must standardise the way you perform each test. That simply means making each test with your scales as similar as possible. The great thing about body fat scales is...


Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 2:13 PM

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I have owned two over the years. They very greatly on a day-by-day basis. I think if you take a measurement everyday at approximately the same time and then calculate and average each week you will see a decent pattern. Over time they are a good indicator of fat loss. Unfortunately they do not help determine if you are burning muscle over fat in the short term. If you have the money to spend go for it. If your budget is a little tight then use a tape measure and focus on more important aspects of your progress.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 8:40 PM

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Consumer Reports did an article on body fat scales in January 2004. Here is a summary of their conclusions, "The best body-fat scale we tested was within 5 percentage points of our laboratory standard for only about 80 percent of the people who tried it. We found no correlation between a scale’s ability to measure body fat accurately and its ability to give accurate weights. However, because these scales give consistent readings, they can provide the information and motivation you may need to achieve your fat-reduction goals."

In other words, the numbers on your scale may not match the numbers in a laboratory, or even on someone else's scale, but your progress over time on your own scale may provide some helpful motivation.

For measuring body fat, they liked Taylor Body Fat Analyzer and Scale 5553. For measuring weight, they liked Tanita Scale Plus Body Fat Monitor BF-680. Apparently, a scale's ability to measure body fat has nothing to do with its ability to measure weight, so choose your scale based on which measurement is more important to you.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 8:36 AM

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Mine says I have 30% body fat when really it is 19.6%. I think it is fairly accurate for weight but mine is way off on BF. I get my tested at the gym and they do the pinch test.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 9:21 AM

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I've never had my bf really tested, but on my scale it says I'm 26% bf. Sometimes it fluctuates to 27% bf for a day, usually if I'm dehydrated, but it always returns to 26% bf. It's said this through about 8lbs of weight loss - 125 lbs to 117 lbs. I can't imagine that that loss was not equal to a couple percentage points, as it's about about 7% of my total weight. I don't think I lost in proportion - both fat and muscle and everything else - that wouldn't make any sense!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 11:30 AM

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I'd be wary of using a waist or hip measurement for calculating body fat. The width/circumference of one's waist is partially dependent upon the distance between rib and hip. Short torso'd people will find it harder to ever have the narrow waists of their long torso'd friends- just like long torsos will often have to struggle with saddle bags, but short torsos often have great legs.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 12:34 PM

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