The internet is flooded with Bioelectrical Impedance Accurate (BIA) scales. Let me explain what you’re getting before you click that order button…
BIA is one of the fastest most simple methods of predicting body fat, the only issue is that convenience comes at the price of one very important thing, ACCURACY. Yikes. Let me tell you why.
A BIA scale runs a very light electrical current through your body with the principal idea being that fat-free mass contains mostly water and fat mass contains very little water. This means that the fat-free mass will have less resistance to the electrical current. While this is a good theory, it doesn’t always work. You see, the electrical current will take the path of least resistance and there may be large amount of fat that the BIA test won’t even hit but instead it will pass through internal tissue. Secondly a BIA test is severely impacted by the subject’s hydration again furthering the issue of the current following the path of least resistance. But wait… there’s more. Many BIA devices send the current up one leg and down the other; meaning they miss your entire torso! But what about the devices you hold instead? Well they send the current through your torso and often miss your legs entirely! I’m not done. Even a device that measures from your hands to your feet is immediately thrown off because your heart will cause more impedance flow resulting in the test showing a higher fat percentage and that’s assuming it doesn’t take the path of least resistance.
Okay, okay. So let’s make the argument that even if the BIA device isn’t accurate it should at least make the same margin of error allowing you to measure progress over time… unfortunately this one is false as well. In my personal experience years ago I used a handheld device and measured myself at 8%. Nice! The very next week I measured at 18% using the same machine however my body weight hadn’t changed! Right in the trash that thing went. Money well spent, lol.
I do have a gripe with one company that in my opinion is trying to promote it’s printout over the actual accuracy of the data and that company is InBody USA (trademarked). In fact I was contacted by an InBody USA representative attempting to “sell me” one of the following options:
- InBody770 ($19,360)
- InBody570 ($10,290)
- InBody370S (price not provided)
- InBody270 ($6,260)
- InBody120 (NEW!)
The representative preached about their detailed printout but was unable to speak to the systems margin of error, their repeat-ability or anything of real importance. Why do I care if I can wear street clothes if the test is inaccurate? And why so many options? Isn’t accuracy important at all or are you just creating a product for every price point? Seems like a money grab to me… just my opinion. Honestly, I feel bad for all of the CrossFit gyms that were sold on this machine or worse for their clients that actually trust the results. Here’s an example:
On April 16th, a (not to be named) Crossfit gym in Bel Air MD posted on Facebook that a 74 year old lady lost 7% body fat and gained 4.7lbs of muscle in SIX WEEKS! Cough. She’s 74 years old. Let’s look at the science behind this one… The average woman can only gain between 0.12 – 0.25 lbs of muscle per week or about 1 – 1.5 lbs per month but this 74 year old lady allegedly gained 4.7lbs. Other than a lack of accuracy in the test, I can’t find any science that says this is possible. So regardless of how many different currents of electricity are sent, I personally do not trust results from a BIA device. I digress.
If you’re looking for an ACCURATE MEASUREMENT of your body composition my recommendation would be to go with Bod Pod or Dexa (if a client has an injury and needs to measure for cemetery). Both devices are extremely accurate. The Bod Pod is a registered medical device used by the Mayo Clinic, the NFL, the NHL, and Universities worldwide. The Bod Pod isn’t new or flashy but it is safe and accurate and in the end that’s the only thing of value when measuring body composition.
Choose the Bod Pod and book your body composition test with Top Fitness Pod for results you can trust.