After discussions with some friends recently I figured it best to spill my thoughts on the above topic.

The title says it all; body fat percentage is the amount of fat in your body, simple. When people say they want to lose weight what they are really should be saying is ‘I want to lose fat.’ Weight can be attributed to a few things – water, muscle and fat being the main contributors. When you step on the scale it only tells you your total weight – not how much water you’re carrying or your fat percentage.

Ok so what now?

body fat

Do you have scales at home to track your progress? Well good on you! The problem is (as stated above) that your typical scales don’t tell the whole truth. Whatever your goal is to lose fat, gain muscle or a bit of both, knowing your fat percentage is very important. Body fat is like a GPS – it tells you exactly where you’re going. (OK so GPS maybe wasn’t the best example but you get the point)

Let’s use the example of client x. X’s starting weight was 90kg, he trains hard, eats well day in and day out and after a couple weeks wants to check out his weight so he jumps on the scales and it tells him he hasn’t lost a single kilo. So now he’s very unhappy and tries to change his training routine and his diet in the hopes for better results next time around.

What needs to be taken into account here is he may have lost fat, but gained muscle which would cause the scale to stay the same since it can’t differentiate between the two. On the other hand, if he was tracking fat percentage the scale would still show he had the same weight but also that he did lose fat. So which sounds like the better option?

So how do you measure your body fat?
Well there are two methods. The first being calipers, commonly known as skin fold/pinch test. While these work well providing you pinch the same parts each time, it is very intrusive and not many people like the idea. Personal space anyone??

So we now come to the easiest, most comfortable way to measure your body fat. By using body fat scales of course! Here’s why I would choose body fat scales over anything else:
• Availability: when have you ever seen a place that provides underwater weighing which doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? (This is considered the most accurate way to measure body fat). Once you (or your pt) have a set of scales they are there to use when you want.
• Wouldn’t you rather have a body fat test in the comfort of your home by just standing on scales rather than in a lab with cords and wires going everywhere? Yep, thought so!
• You can do it yourself! No need for someone else there, unless it’s your personal trainer recording your results

Whether body fat scales measure your actual body fat percentage or not is irrelevant! What does matter is that you get a baseline and continually monitor your progress.
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 do the test each time in similar circumstances. Example – same day same time each week.

Are body fat scales any better than plain old weighing scales?

To a happier and Healthier you,

Andrew Zagami
A2Z Personal Training