Fat likely played a vital role in the human race’s evolution. According to anthropologist William R. Leonard of Northwestern University, humans derive a much larger share of their dietary energy from fat compared to our closest biological ancestors. He believes that the main reason why humans crave fatty foods is that our large brains require lots of energy to function properly. If that energy is not readily available in the form of proteins or carbohydrates, the brain signals fat cells to release their energy reserves into the bloodstream.
Even though fat probably helped the human race survive and thrive in ancient times, excess fat is causing serious health issues today. In the United States, heart disease is responsible for nearly one in four deaths. Diabetes– another potential side effect of obesity– is the seventh leading cause of death. The social stigma that’s attached to being fat provides yet another reason to get healthy. Overweight people often struggle to land jobs and form romantic relationships.
The first step in losing excess fat involves finding out exactly how much of it you need to burn. To do that, you may need more than just a simple scale– especially if exercise is a part of your plan for getting healthier. Overweight people that begin an exercise routine often gain weight at first because muscle weighs more than fat. This often discourages them from reaching their health goals. A body fat scale will give you a more complete picture of where you stand.
Here are the best body fat scales you can buy:
- Tanita’s BC554 Ironman Elite Series Body Composition Monitor is one of the most accurate consumer-grade body fat scales you can buy. It’s a bit pricier compared to the other scales on our list, but still very affordable.
- If you want to save money, FITINDEX’s Bluetooth Body Fat Scale is your best bet. No other budget body fat scale can compete with its feature list.
- YUNMAI Premium Smart Scale is the perfect weight loss gadget for people that hate learning how to use gadgets. Its best feature is its user-friendly interface.
- Weighing yourself will bring you one step towards losing weight, but you have to manage your caloric intake if you want to shed pounds. That’s where Withings Body+ Digital Scale comes in. It not only measures your body fat, but also helps you plan and monitor your food choices.
- Arboleaf Bluetooth Body Fat Scale is for people with lots of roommates or large families. Its user-friendly interface lets you generate as many individual profiles as you need.
The most accurate body fat scale
Tanita BC554 Ironman Elite Series Body Composition Monitor
In addition to making consumer-grade body fat scales, Tanita also produces highly accurate medical-grade body fat scales for hospitals. The Tanita BC554 costs a fraction of what Tanita’s more advanced scales cost, yet it’s just about as precise. On the other hand, its features are somewhat limited. There’s no smartphone integration and the on-board storage only has the capacity to hold four different user profiles.
- Precise measurements. This consumer-grade scale from Tanita is nearly as accurate as the ones the company makes for hospitals.
- Measures a wide array of health metrics. Bioelectric impedance analysis lets you find out how much muscle mass you have, how much water weight you’re carrying and more.
- Attractive glass design. Since this scale is made from primarily stainless steel and glass, it’ll blend in well wherever you place it.
- Comes with batteries. The box comes with everything you need to get started measuring your body right away.
- You can switch between kilos and pounds. Pick whichever measurement system you prefer.
- Backed by a three-year warranty. Most other scale manufacturers only provide a one-year warranty.
- You can’t download your health information to an app. Since there’s no way to export your body measurements, fans of Fitbit and other similar health apps will likely want to choose a different product.
- Only supports four user profiles. This limitation may be a disadvantage for people with large families or lots of roommates.
In a nutshell
If you’re looking for a quality body fat scale that delivers consistent results, the Tanita BC554 is an excellent choice. The fact that it lacks smart features is balanced out by its high quality construction and accurate sensors.
The best budget body fat scale
FITINDEX Bluetooth Body Fat Scale
FITINDEX’s Bluetooth Body Fat Scale costs a fraction of what you’d normally pay for a scale with features like Bluetooth connectivity, bioelectric impedance analysis capability and data export functionality. In addition, it’s slim enough to slide under almost any type of bathroom shelf. However, before you buy, you should be aware of the fact that there’s no way to use this scale unless you install its rather invasive companion app.
- Costs less than most other body fat scales. This inexpensive body fat scale is reasonably accurate and has a surprisingly deep feature set.
- Syncs with many different fitness apps. Apple Health, Google Health, Fitbit and the FITINDEX health app are just a few of the apps that you can connect to this product.
- Unlimited user profiles. You can set up as many profiles as you want.
- Slim, low profile design. This scale is less than an inch tall, which makes it easier to store compared to bulkier scales.
- Friendly and responsive customer service team. The fact that the FITINDEX team takes the time to respond to questions and comments about its products likely contributes to the brand’s good online reputation.
- One-year warranty. Even though this scale is inexpensive, FITINDEX’s warranty lets you get a refund if something goes wrong with it within a year’s time.
- The scale doesn’t work unless you install the FITINDEX app. One reason why this scale is so cheap could be that FITINDEX sells the information that its app harvests to advertisers. There’s no way to use the scale without first activating the app.
In a nutshell
This surprisingly high quality scale costs a fraction of what other scale manufacturers charge. The only catch is that you have to be willing to give up some privacy to use it, since there’s no way to take a measurement without installing FITINDEX’s somewhat invasive app.
The most user-friendly body fat scale
YUNMAI Premium Smart Scale
Many different scale makers have leveraged the computing power of smartphones to offer data storage, analytics, advanced health tracking and other enhanced features. The problem with these types of scales is that they’re not always easy to use. YUNMAI’s Premium Smart Scale is, and that’s what sets it apart.
- One-step operation. If you just want to see how much you weight, all you have to do is step on the scale to get a quick measurement.
- You don’t need a smartphone to use it. Even though this scale does work with smartphones, you don’t need to connect one to use it.
- Quick and easy setup. Just pop in the included AAA batteries and step on the scale to take your first measurement.
- Compatible with Google Fit, Fitbit and Apple Health. You can also use YUNMAI’s own health app to track your weight loss progress.
- Accommodates up to 16 different users. If you want to share your scale with friends or family members, you can do so with ease.
- Updates get sent to the app in real time. In other words, there’s no sync button to press. Your results appear in the app automatically as soon as the scale takes a measurement.
- No-questions-asked 30-day guarantee. If you don’t like it, just send it back. There’s also a one-year warranty.
- YUNMAI’s app requests permission to access your phone, contacts, location and camera. The most common complaint about this scale is that the YUNMAI app asks for too much phone access.
In a nutshell
This smart scale has an array of features, yet is also easy to use. The reason why YUNMAI’s app wants your data probably boils down to money. According to the New York Times, companies bought $21 million worth of location-aware ads in 2018.
The best body fat scale with diet tracking features
Withings Body+ Digital Scale
If the idea of a full-featured smart body fat scale that’s equipped with a nutrition tracker and all kinds of other bells and whistles sounds appealing, Withings’ Body+ Digital Scale may be worth a look. It is compatible with nearly every kind of health app and the display even tells you what the weather is like outside.
- Tracks your nutrition. Unlike most body fat scales, this one helps you monitor what you eat.
- Analyzes a wide array of body metrics. This scale measures body fat, bone mass, water weight and more.
- Supports eight different user profiles. Eight profiles should be enough flexibility for most people.
- Connects via both Bluetooth and WiFi. If you don’t want to connect this scale to your phone, you can have it download your information directly to your Withings account instead.
- Works with Amazon Alexa. Once you connect your Alexa to your Withings Body+ Digital Scale, you’ll be able to ask Alexa “How much weight did I lose this year?” and other similar questions.
- Delivers weather forecasts. This handy feature lets you know what to expect once you step outside when you weigh yourself on your way out the door.
- Syncs to Apple Watch and 100+ fitness apps. This smart scale is compatible with just about every fitness app on the market.
- Position control feature adds to accuracy. Arrows that appear on the display guide your feet into the optimal position.
- The Withings health app may still have some bugs that need ironing out. After Nokia bought Withings, the quality of the Withings health app seems to have declined.
In a nutshell
Fans of the Withings brand may be pleased to know that the original management team is back in the driver’s seat. The Withings Body+ Digital Scale is a great choice for anyone looking for a reasonably priced body fat scale with advanced features.
The best body fat scale for families
Arboleaf Bluetooth Body Fat Scale
Since healthy habits begin at home, why not share your smart scale with your entire family? Arboleaf’s Bluetooth Body Fat Scale is reasonably priced and easy enough for anyone to use, kids and technophobic adults alike. Another nice family-friendly feature: you can set up as many individual profiles as you want. Profiles let each of your family members track their progress as they accomplish their health goals.
- Supports an unlimited number of users. There’s no restriction on the amount of individual profiles you can set up.
- Easy to use. Just step on the scale to find out what your current weight is. You can use the free app to learn more detailed information about your body.
- Works with Fitbit, Google Fit and Apple Health. This scale supports all three of the most popular health app brands.
- Measures 10 different health metrics. This scale can measure your body weight, body fat percentage, body water percentage, body type, visceral fat, muscle mass, bone mass, BMI, BMR and metabolic age.
- Consistent readings. Though some variances may happen depending on how you stand, you’ll usually get the same results each time you take a measurement.
- Comes with batteries. Once you pop the batteries in, you can get started right away.
- Connection issues sometimes cause syncing problems. Intermittent syncing issues may prevent you from downloading your information to your phone.
- No satisfaction guarantee. The one-year warranty covers manufacturing defects only.
In a nutshell
This affordable body fat scale caters to families with features like unlimited profiles, support for the most popular health apps and an easy-to-use interface.
Buying guide for body fat scales
Smartphone / health app compatibility
Do you use health apps like Google Health and Fitbit? If your answer was yes, you should definitely find out if your prospective body fat scale supports the app that you use. You may also want to verify that the scale’s native app is compatible with your phone’s operating system. Most body fat scale apps support both iOS and Android. Skimming through the app’s reviews to see if there are any complaints about bugs may be a good idea, as well.
Don’t expect pinpoint accuracy out of any type of body fat scale. Bioelectrical impedance analysis– the method that body fat scales use to determine body composition– is only capable of delivering ballpark estimates. What you should look for instead is consistency. A good body fat scale shouldn’t deliver wildly different results each time you step on the scale.
Nearly all body fat scale manufacturers back up their products with warranties, but only a few of them offer satisfaction guarantees. If the manufacturer does offer a satisfaction guarantee, that’s a good sign that they’re willing to stand by their product.
WiFi vs. Bluetooth
Most body fat scales that have smart features connect to smartphones via Bluetooth, but some also support WiFi. The benefit of WiFi-compatible smart scales is that they can send your data directly to your health account via the internet. You have to rely on a smartphone app to use a smart scales that can only connect via Bluetooth.
Ease of use vs. ease of storage
Large size scales are easier to stand on, but they’re also somewhat harder to store since they can’t be easily tucked away under a shelf or a cabinet.
If you plan on using your scale discreetly, you may want to think about getting a scale that has a backlit display. This will allow you to avoid waking up your loved ones in the event that you want to check your body fat and weight at night when they’re asleep.
Features vs. price
Though there are some full-featured body fat scales that are surprisingly cheap, in most cases you’ll have to pay more if you want more features. Decide which features you want and how much you’re willing to pay before you go shopping.
Maximum weight capacity
Most body fat scales can handle up to 300 pounds, but some will support 400 pounds or more. Find out how much you weigh before you buy and then look for a scale that will support your body.
Materials, design and style
Let’s face it: if you hate the way your scale looks, you probably won’t stick with it for long. You don’t have to spend lots of money on a designer brand. However, you should at least get a scale that has a nice look and matches your bathroom decor.
Believe it or not, you can get a decent quality body fat scale for under $30. Budget body fat scales aren’t quite as accurate as their mid-range and high-end competitors, but most are precise enough to give you a basic idea of how much progress you’ve made as you diet and burn your fat off through exercise.
Mid-range body fat scales tend to look a bit nicer because they’re made of more expensive materials, like glass and stainless steel. Expect to pay around $50.
High-end consumer body fat scales feature some of the same components that you might find in the medical-grade body fat scale that your doctor uses. Prices start at $100, but some cost much more.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What is biometrical impedance analysis?
A: Most consumer-grade body fat scales use biometrical impedance analysis to determine body composition. These types of scales send a weak electrical signal through the body. Since bone and muscle is much more dense than fat, this method can provide reasonably accurate body composition estimates.
Q: How accurate are body fat scales?
A: According to a 2011 study published by the peer-reviewed journal The International Journal of Exercise Science, devices that use biometrical impedance analysis to measure body fat are most accurate when used on high school students, elderly individuals and male wrestlers. Women are more difficult to measure, possibly due to “greater variation in the location of fat deposition.” The researchers went on to write that even when biometrical impedance analysis delivers inaccurate results, the technique can still provide a useful way to measure fat loss over time.
Q: Are body fat scales safe?
A: For most people, yes. The electrical currents that they generate are extremely weak. However, pregnant women and people with pacemakers and other similar devices should not use them.
Q: How can I improve the accuracy of my readings?
A: Since a full bladder can skew your results, use the restroom before you step on the scale. Foot calluses, moisture and dirt can also cause inaccuracies.
- Standardize the way you measure yourself with your scale. Consistent measurement habits lead to more accurate results and better health tracking.
- Take your scale with you the next time you pay your doctor a visit. Professional-grade medical scales tend to be more accurate than consumer-grade scales. If you notice a large discrepancy between your scale’s readings and your doctor’s, you may need to reconfigure it or request a refund.
- After you turn on your scale, it’ll ask you a series of questions about your body. Be sure to answer these correctly. Providing the wrong information can skew your results.
- Be patient and stick to your diet and exercise plan. If you’re very overweight you’ll see quick results, but if you’re only moderately obese it may be a while before you notice any changes.