The best body fat monitor
The road to fitness isn't an easy one. Once you're there, it can be hard to monitor progress. Body fat monitors give you quick results and help you track changes in body fat. Some body fat monitors provide extra measurements like bone mass and muscle weight. We've chosen three models for their accuracy and ease of use with the top pick coming from Omron. It rose above the rest with its seven fitness indicators, scale, handheld monitors, and quick results. Take a look at our guide to get an overview of the features that will help you in the next step of your fitness journey.
Considerations when choosing body fat monitors
Types of body fat monitors
There are three types of body fat monitors, two of which use bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) to measure body fat. Using a low-voltage electrical current, these monitors measure the rate at which electricity travels through the body. The water content of body tissue slows the current as does tissue type--bone, muscle, or fat. Based on calculations, the monitor then estimates overall body fat.
Calipers: Calipers are the non-electrical way to test body fat. They're typically made of plastic and pinch the skin in three areas of the body--abdomen, upper arm, and thigh. These measurements are then used to calculate body fat percentage. They can be difficult to use by yourself. However, if you're on a budget, they're inexpensive and easy to store.
Body fat scales: Body fat scales use BIA in the lower body to make an overall estimate of body fat, but many also do additional measurements like hydration level, body mass index, or bone weight. These are the easiest to use of the three types, and some models store or wirelessly connect to an app where you can see your progress. However, not all models are accurate. Things such as your hydration level, foot cleanliness, and exercise routine can throw off results.
Handled body fat monitors: Instead of stepping onto a scale, you hold these monitors in your hand. Using a BIA of the upper body, they make an overall body fat estimate. They're easy to use, give quick results, and the state of your feet doesn't interfere with readings. However, they're not always accurate, and they cannot measure your weight like a scale can.
Some models have a sedentary and an athletic setting. The athletic setting provides more sensitive and accurate results but is really only helpful for those with a low body fat percentage.
Body composition measurements
Some body fat scales provide measurements beyond body fat and weight. You can also find models that measure:
Some body fat monitors use WiFi or Bluetooth to connect to an app where you can track your progress. Some include charts, fitness tips, and motivators, too.
Body fat monitor prices
For $10 or less, calipers are by far the simplest way to measure body fat, though they may not always be the most accurate. Both handheld body fat monitors and body fat scales range from $20 to more than $150. The models at the higher end of the price range offer more body composition measurements, wireless connectivity, and better accuracy. At the low end of the range, you're looking at models that may only provide a body fat percentage and weight measurements and lack wireless options.
Q. Is accuracy an issue with body fat monitors?
A. Body fat monitors of all types give you a general estimate of your body fat percentage. Some can be off by as much as 20 percent. However, they give you a general idea of where you're at while providing a way to monitor the progress of your health.
Q. Are there activities or things I can do to make the reading more accurate?
A. You can increase the accuracy of your readings by:
Using the scale on a hard floor
Entering your age, weight, and gender
Measuring at the same time each day
Measuring without clothing on
Measuring before you eat breakfast and after using the bathroom
Being hydrated, but not overly hydrated
Avoiding measuring immediately after exercise
Drying your feet before stepping on the scale
Centering your feet over the sensors and balancing your weight equally between feet
Using a scale model with hand sensors
Body fat monitors we recommend
Best of the best: Omron Body Composition Monitor with Scale
Our take: If you want fast, accurate readings of your most vital stats (with a few extras), this is the monitor for you.
What we like: The scale combined with a handheld monitor gives quick, accurate readings for weight, body fat percentage, visceral fat, BMI, and several other key fitness indicators.
What we dislike: It's more complicated than some models, so it takes time to learn how to use it.
Best bang for your buck: FITINEX Bluetooth Body Fat Scale
Our take: This one's a bargain for a Bluetooth enabled body fat scale. It provides a few extra readings and lets you track everything through an app.
What we like: It tracks all measurements through an app that's pretty easy to use. We love that it's simple to set up.
What we dislike: It can occasionally give inaccurate readings.
Choice 3: Tanita Duo Scale Plus Body Fat Monitor
Our take: If you don't want to mess with any extra measurements or long setup, this is the scale for you. It keeps things basic but accurate.
What we like: This model tracks weight, body fat, and hydration levels. It also creates profiles for two users.
What we dislike: It's accurate most of the time but doesn't have the bells and whistles of other models.
Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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