Body Fat Scales – Should I use one?

Many people like to use body fat scales to weigh themselves because they are quick, easy to use, and feel like a safe option. 

Body fat scales are pretty much available in any major store and on Amazon making it easy to purchase them. 

However, there is research and data that suggests that these scales are not an accurate representation of your health or even your actual weight.

In my opinion, as a Registered Dietitian, they could be doing more harm than good.

In this article, we will get into what body fat scales are and if it’s a good idea to use this tool as part of your health journey. 

Did you check out my latest blog post on body positivity vs body neutrality? If not- check it out here

What is a Body Fat Scale?

Body fat scales are a tool that people can use at home to measure their body composition (weight, percentage of fat, muscle, and water in the body). 

You most likely have one tucked away in your closet or inside your bathroom that your parents or other family members use. 

They are a convenient tool which is why they are so popular, especially among people who are dieting or focused on weight loss.

Are Body Fat Scales Accurate?

Most body fat scales use bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) to measure the body’s muscle and fat mass. 

This is a fancy way of saying electrical currents that go up one leg and down the other to guess the amount of overall body fat and weight. 

Body fat scales aren’t very accurate, especially scales that can be used at home. They only collect data from your legs and not your entire body.

More times than not the numbers on the scales aren’t correct. So what is the point in using a scale then? 

Just because they feel like a “safe” thing to use does not mean it is in your best interest! I recommend ditching the scale and focusing on other health victories. 

Why Should You Stop Using Body Fat Scales?

Body fat and weight aren’t the only things you should focus on during your health journey. 

The number shown on these scales doesn’t look at your height, hydration level, bowel movements, bone density, etc. 

It is easy for your weight to go up or down depending on these factors and more.

If you are a lower weight one day, you may just be dehydrated. If the scale goes up a few pounds, you may be drinking enough water again. 

As you can see, this is why weighing yourself daily or even weekly is not the best way to figure out your health status. 

Using a scale to check your weight or body fat percentage is called “body checking”, which has been shown to decrease your desire to eat in a way that is healthiest for your body. Body checking can also lead to an eating disorder.

What should you focus on instead?

There are so many other ways to measure improved health and feel successful besides just seeing your weight and body fat numbers.

Other Successes That Show Improved Health:

  • You have increased self-confidence
  • You have more energy to do the things you love
  • You have an improved mental health
  • You sleep better
  • Your skin glows more
  • Your hair feels stronger

These are just a few victories that you can experience during your health journey that aren’t related to the scale at all. 

The Takeaway

All in all, body fat scales aren’t as accurate as they are marketed to be. They don’t tell the whole story of what is going on inside your body which is important to know for your health. 

There are plenty of other ways to figure out how well your health is doing that are separate from your weight. 

If you are looking for additional support on your nutrition and health journey from a specialized dietitian, please reach out to me through my contact page. Let’s get you started today!