Body fat monitors

I am after a recommended body fat monitor for use by both athletes and sedentary people; the simple hand held or foot planted devices, not the electrode devices used for whole body measurement.

It is stated in Heywards ‘Advanced fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription’ that the Omron Body Logic Analyzer has similar prediction errors to whole body analysers whereas certain Tanita machines significantly overestimate body fat levels.

Anyone experienced in body fat monitors and can recommend any?

Come on Clemson, you must have a good idea.

We still use skinfolds (for data) but before and after photos are clear! I mean is it not clear? When you see a Ben Johnson you know he’s lean and my eyes over the years know what 4%,8%, and 12%. The Bod pod is next our facility but we never use it.

IMO - Pound for Pound for an individual - the fastest, best value for money but completely inaccurate one is the accu-measure calipers.

None of the electro-scales or handle thingys are accurate - at least none of the ones I used.
Drink water, sleep or even walk around for a few minutes and redo the test and you’ll get a different measure.

The most accurate approach is the water-based weighing etc. (I forget the term) - but expensive and hard to do.

The next best is a multiple site accurate caliper measure - need a trained colleague or someone to assist.

The thing about body fat IMO is that you generally want to measure chnages - not really measure actual body fat.
The BF % tells you very little in reality
For all those reasons it all brings me back to accu-measure …

  • close enough (it’s not completely inaccurate …)
  • very fast
  • can be done frequently enough to monitor chnages
  • cheap

Its not so much for leanish athletes as for people who want to lose a fair amount, and want to use the calorie counting method with an idea how long they will reach their goal etc. Calipers are not always the best way to go for some clients.

With calorie counting the amount of body fat and therefore lean body tissue has to be determined before the calorie requirement for a particular person can be calculated.

Sorry man afraid I’ve no other great ideas - maybe someone else out there might have some experience of working with people, bringing them from a more ‘out-of-shape’ situation …

I think the most feasible and least expensive way is to preform skinfold measurements. Yes, they can be innacurate, but if you have an experienced person doing them, that will significantly reduce the margin or error.

No23 also brings up the good point of “hyrdostatic” weighing. Its good, but expensive and certainly not feasible since you need a team of people to help perform the procedure and can be quite overwhelming to the sedentary individual.

I would not recommend using body fat monitors, such as the stand on ones, b/c they are also innacurate. Not always, but not consistent either. And worst part is, it does not tell you “where” the fat is, which is very important when dealing with sedentary individuals, when you try and educate them on the health risks concerning visceral fat versus peripheral (SUB-Q) fat.

to get the most bang for your buck, get a trained individual to do skinfold measurements and ALWAYS go to the same person (to minimize deviant errors).

Skinfolds have too many inter and intra individual measurement errors. Research shows them to be up to +/- 5% even with a single individual performing the measures. Couple that with the time to measure compared to others and its not worth it.

Personally I use tanita scales. Remember though, its not the absolute value that matters, its the daily change. Whether its weight loss, peak performance or bodybuilding, your goals are either to increase, decrease or maintan bodyfat. Why bother worrying about an absolute measure? Its the change over medium/long periods that have relationships with your energy & water intake and training volume.

The key with a bioimpedance measure is to do it at the same time, same hydration level, which can only be guessed. If you stepped on the machine morning and night you will get very good measures of change over time.