If you're in the business of trying to lose weight, the best way to monitor your progress isn't by stepping on a scale. Since a basic bathroom scale measures your entire body weight, it doesn't take into consideration how much of you is made up of fat, and how much is made of healthy stuff like bones, muscle, blood, and organs. For a more accurate picture of your body composition, it's best to measure your body fat percentage, and here are the many ways it's calculated.
- Home scales that measure body fat. They use the Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis method to measure body fat percentage. It sends a low level and harmless electrical current through your feet and uses the data to determine how much of you is fat. They are fairly accurate and easy to use, as long as you follow the directions. A scale like this will cost between $50 and $100.
- DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan. This test is normally used to measure bone density to check for osteoporosis, but it can also measure fat percentage. It uses two different low-dose X-rays to figure out bone mass and soft tissue mass. Even though it's super accurate and considered the "gold standard" for measuring body fat, it's also super pricey, about $100 or more.
To see the other methods, read more.
- Skin fold calipers (pinch test). You can buy a set to do on your own, or have a professional take your measurements. It basically squeezes your skin folds and measures how thick you are. This test is low in cost but tends to be less accurate than the DEXA scan.
- Hydrostatic weighing (underwater weighing). You sit on a scale in a tank of water, blow out all your air, and then are dunked completely underwater. The more fat you have, the more you'll float. This test is very accurate, but it can be scary for some people to submerge themselves underwater. It costs around $50.
Do you have a scale that measures body fat?