Exercise Equipment Review

Choosing Tanita Body Fat Scales...
And Getting the Most From Them

Tanita body fat scales dominate the market. But how do they compare to other methods of assessing body composition? Let's take a quick look...

Assuming you don't have access or the money for the more sophisticated body fat tests like DEXA and hydrostatic weighing, you basically have two choices -- body fat scales or body fat calipers. And unless you have a personal trainer or know an accredited professional who can use calipers, body fat scales are far more reliable. They are also less expensive than most sets of calipers.

Tanita body fat scales, like all body fat scales, use Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). It sounds far more complicated than it is. Very simply...

A small and completely harmless electrical current is passed through your body. The electrical current passes more quickly through fat free tissue like muscle than it does through fat or bone tissue. So...

The amount of resistance to the electrical current relates to how much fat-free tissue a person has. Here's the challenge...

Tanita body fat scales don't actually measure your body fat percentage. They determine your body density. The scales then use a formula to predict your body fat percentage based on your body density. But there are different formulas for different groups of people. Age, gender, ethnicity and fitness level can all have an effect on results.

What does this all mean to you, the user? There's no guarantee the results you get will be 100% accurate. In fact Tanita body fat scales are only accurate to within 5%. That's the case for all methods of body fat analysis. The only way you'll ever be sure what your "real" body fat percent is through dissection... ouch! But here's the important thing to remember...

Body fat scales don't have to be 100% accurate. As long as they can accurately monitor changes in your body composition over time, that's all you need. And studies have shown that results from Tanita body fat scales are repeatable to a +/- 1% accuracy... that's better than your bathroom scales!

Before we take a look at some Tanita body fat scales, here are a few more points that will help make your results more consistent and reliable...

1. Measure out some water one hour before you test yourself. Make sure you always drink the same amount of water before each test.

2. Don't test yourself after exercising. When you exercise you sweat and when you sweat you lose water. This affects your hydration levels and hence... the results.

3. Measure yourself at the same time of day for each test.

4. Your skin temperature affects the electrical current used by the scales. It's difficult but try to test yourself in a similar room temperature each time.

5. Thoroughly clean the footpads, preferably with alcohol and then dry them off each time you test.

6. If ever you get the chance, have your body composition measured by a professional using skin fold calipers. It will give you a frame of reference as to how accurate your scales are.

7. Choose body fat scales that have the right profile for you. If your children are going to use them make sure they can be calibrated for children. If you're an athlete (+10 hrs of strenuous exercise a week) same thing applies. This is important. It makes a big difference. So let's examine some Tanita body fat scales...

Popular Tanita Body Fat Scales

If you're looking for a way to measure your body fat regularly than body fat scales are the best option for most people. They are easier to use than calipers and unlike the hand held body fat analyzers they double as bathroom scales, for no extra cost.

Tanita body fat scales lead the industry. Their range is extensive but many models are designed for professional or commercial use. Tanita body fat scales designed for home use range in price (online) from $60 to $250 but there's no need to pay any more than $140.

You'll find savings on most models of Tanita body fat scales by shopping online. When deciding whom to buy from online scrutinize the company's reputation and quality. All Tanita body fat scales come with a 1-year parts and labor warranty but check that they will still honor this if you buy from an Internet retailer...

Bodytrends is a highly regarded store that stocks Tanita body fat scales. I've ordered through them a few times and had no problem. The warranties are also valid through Bodytrends. With that covered on to those scales!

The Tanita TBF-621 (Adult, Child)
One of Tanita's lowest priced scales that are suitable for both adults and children. Data can be stored for two people as well. Don't consider these scales if you are a prudent fitness fanatic, see the models below. Overall these are the best value for most families.

Tanita TBF-622 (Adult, Athlete)
If you consider yourself or a family member to be an athlete then these are the lowest priced scales for you. And what constitutes an athlete? In Tanita's eyes it's anyone who exercises for more than 10 hours per week and has done so for some time i.e. long enough for it to have an effect on their physique.

Tanita TBF-626 (Adult, Child, Athlete)
Need a set of scales for the whole family, one or more of whom is an athlete? Then these scales are your best choice. They are still under $100 and can store the data for two people.

Tanita TBF-556 (Adult, Child, Athlete)
Like the scales above this set of Tanita body fat scales caters for everyone. They are more expensive at $130 but are one of the most popular models. They allow you to store the data for four people and the scales will calculate the number of calories you need to consume to maintain your weight... or lose it. If you expect your scales to get heavy use, the extra $30 or so may will worth it.