This scale does it all: measures weight, body fat percentage, BMI, visceral fat, and other measurements. A great indicator of overall health.
Because it has so many features, it has a slight learning curve.
Great accuracy, coupled with fast results. Sends a mild electrical current to estimate the amount of body fat.Very affordable price.
The instructions can be complicated, and the device must be used according to directions for a more accurate reading.
These calipers are easy to use, and charts are included to interpret the results. When used consistently, they are accurate.
The instructions included may not be the best way to interpret the results; other methods are available online.
Weight and body fat readings are consistent and accurate and it is easy to use and program. The scale is narrow and stores in small spaces easily.
Instructions may be confusing, and there were problems with troubleshooting.
The scale will measure up to 400 pounds and also measures hydration, muscle and bone percentages. It is easy to set up and use.
The glass must be clean to ensure an accurate reading, and body composition readings are not clinically accurate.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you can pinch a lot more than an inch, you might feel inspired to lose weight, tone up, and improve your health. And while one of the easiest ways to track weight gain or loss is simply by noting how your clothes fit, more high-tech methods, such as body fat monitors, give you data to chart and let you see your progress at a glance.
While body fat monitors were once only available to personal trainers, dieticians, and other health experts, now you can easily check your body fat percentage at home.
Seeing that number in black and white can be all the inspiration you need to continue your healthy eating habits and exercise program.
But how do you choose the right body fat monitor? After all, there are several different types available and many brands and models from which to choose.
That’s why BestReviews decided to do the research for you and bring you this helpful and unbiased guide to choosing the best body fat monitor for home use.
We don’t accept free products or money from manufacturer in exchange for the recommendation we make. We do our own research, talk to fitness experts and health experts like our consultant, Dr. Schreiber, and listen to feedback from owners of products. That’s why we can give you buying advice without bias.
So, if you just want to buy a body fat monitor and get started on the road to Wellsville, see our five recommendations in the matrix above.
If you’d like to learn more about body fat monitors in general, including how to choose and use them, read our shopping guide.
Dr. Schreiber earned a bachelor of science in dietetics with a minor in biology from the University of Delaware, then continued at the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, CT, earning his doctorate of chiropractic and master’s degree in human nutrition. He is double board certified in rehabilitation and clinical nutrition. He has been featured in prominent publications such as the Huffington Post, livestrong.com, and WebMD.com.
There are three basic types of body fat monitors. Two of them – body fat scales and handheld body fat monitors – use bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) to determine your body fat percentage. The devices send a very low electrical charge through your body: the lower body in the case of body fat scales and the upper body for handheld body fat monitors. The amount of water found in body tissues impedes (or obstructs) the electrical current to a different extent depending on whether the tissue is fat, muscle, or bone. By measuring that impedance, the device can calculate the percentage of body fat.
Calipers are a “pinch an inch” way to measure body fat; no electrical current is involved. With these simple devices, which are similar to measuring tapes with clamps, skin folds are measured on three or more parts of the body, most commonly the abdomen, upper arm, and thigh. The resulting measurements are plugged into a formula that calculates body fat percentage. Calipers are most often used at health clubs or fitness centers. It’s nearly impossible to accurately use one by yourself, but some people do buy them for home use.
Safe for people with pacemakers.
Hard to use on yourself.
Must test the same spots each time for accurate results.
Measures only subcutaneous fat, not visceral fat, the more dangerous type.
Before using a body fat monitor, enter all the required information, such as age and gender. If these are entered incorrectly, the monitor will give you a false reading. One of the most common mistakes newcomers to body fat monitors make is not entering the correct parameters, such as male or female, athletic or sedentary.
Body fat scales are easy to use: just step onto the scale in bare feet. Most can report several measurements beyond body fat, such as total weight, hydration level, body mass index (BMI), lean body mass, and bone weight. This is the most popular type of body fat monitor for home use.
Quick and easy to use.
Easy to track fitness progress.
Most provide other measurements, including weight.
Can be inaccurate (skewed by hydration level, dirty feet, recent exercise, or using the scale right after a meal).
Handheld body fat monitors use the same principle as a body fat scale to calculate your numbers, but instead of standing on the device, you hold it in your hands. These are used extensively at fitness centers for quick body fat measurements, but some people like them for home use as well.
Easy to use.
No need to remove shoes.
No interference from dirty feet or thick foot calluses.
Can be inaccurate (skewed by hydration level, recent exercise, or using the scale right after a meal).
Only measures body fat and BMI, not weight.
Handheld body fat monitors measure upper body fat and use that number to calculate total body fat percentage. Body fat scales calculate the total body fat percentage from measurements on the lower body.
While different models of body fat calipers and handheld body fat monitors are generally the same, body fat scales offer many different features. Here are some worth considering.
This setting is for people in good shape who have a higher percentage of muscle and a lower percentage of body fat. If you fall into this group, you’ll get results that are more accurate with a scale offering this setting.
Along with weight and percentage of body fat, you’ll find scales that measure bone mass, muscle weight, water weight, metabolism, body age, visceral fat, and BMI.
The best way to measure total body fat using bioelectrical impedance is with a step-on model that has hand grips. The grips measure both upper and lower body fat composition. Bioelectrical impedance really only gives estimates, but it’s a great method for quickly checking trends over a period of time.
Many high-tech body fat scales have apps that store your numbers, create graphs to chart your progress, and give you a variety of helpful motivators to keep you on track for healthy living. These scales have WiFi or Bluetooth capabilities to connect to your smartphone.
If the whole family wants to use the scale, choose one with a multi-user capability so everyone’s results can be stored separately.
Your results don’t do you much good if they’re too small to read. Your scale should have a large lighted display that’s easy to read.
Wipe your scale’s surface with an alcohol wipe or pad after each use to remove dust, oil, or sweat residue that might affect the measurements.
You can buy a good body fat caliper for less than $10.
Body Fat Scales
You can buy a fairly basic scale with body fat capabilities for around $25. If you want one that offers a wider range of body composition measurements, links to your phone, and promises greater accuracy, expect to pay between $30 and $50.
Handheld Body Fat Monitors
While you can find handheld body fat monitors for as little as $20, you’ll get much better accuracy and a more extended range of body composition measurements in the $25 to $50 range.
Body fat measurements are calculations, so they may not be entirely accurate. For more accurate results, drink a glass of water an hour before testing.
Body fat monitors do not directly measure the percentage of fat in your body. Instead, they determine body density and use that information to estimate your body fat.
You can help improve the accuracy of the results by following these tips:
Place your scale on hard flooring, not carpet.
Enter the required information, which at a minimum includes age and gender, for an accurate calculation of your body fat percentage.
Always use your body fat scale at the same time of day, preferably in the morning before eating and after using the bathroom.
For the most accurate weight results, measure yourself while naked.
Drink a cup of water an hour or so before using your scale so you’re hydrated but not overly so. Do not measure your body fat right after drinking a lot of liquids, as this skews the results.
Don’t exercise right before measuring body fat. Sweating will alter your results.
Before stepping onto your body fat scale, your feet should be bare, clean, dry, and free of thick calluses.
Center yourself on the scale so your feet cover the sensors and your weight is balanced over both feet.
Q. Are body fat monitors accurate?
A. While body fat scales and monitors are a great way to track your fat loss or gain and are generally quite accurate when it comes to weight, the devices can be off by a fair percentage – some by as much as 20% – when it comes to calculating your body fat. You can help improve the accuracy by following the tips above. Still, you should use the results to track progress, not as an absolute.
Q. Is it safe to use a body fat monitor if I have a pacemaker?
A. While the amount of electrical current sent through the body by body fat scales and monitors is extremely low, these devices are not recommended for use by anyone with an implanted pacemaker without prior approval by a medical professional.
Q. What is a healthy percentage of body fat?
A. The answer depends on your age and gender, but according to the American Council on Exercise, an adult woman in good condition will have a body fat percentage between 21% and 24%. An average woman’s body fat is between 25% and 31%. Anything over 32% is considered overweight. Men in good condition have body fat percentages of 14% to 17%. Average men have 18% to 24% body fat. Men with 25% or more body fat are considered overweight.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.