Q:

What’s the Best Way to Measure Body Fat?

I'm trying to measure my progress on a new exercise routine. What's the best device for tracking body fat at home?

weight loss bathroom scale weighing fitness conditioning training

    Photo: Pixelbliss/Shutterstock

A:You may know the drill: After months of hard work in a new exercise routine, you still weigh exactly the same. Many coaches and trainers chalk it up to changing body composition. For instance, after dedicated hours of core work, your trunk may be swapping out fat for denser muscle, so your overall weight stays the same.

But how do you tell if you’re really gaining muscle, or if your trainer is just being kind? The best way is to use a scale with a built-in body-fat analyzer. These devices are often criticized for not giving an accurate reading the first time. They use a weak electrical current to test your body’s composition, and calculate results using a formula for your age, sex, and other factors. If you’re especially athletic, the numbers may not even be close. But body fat scales do nail the trends. They are valuable tools to see if you are getting leaner over the weeks, and to motivate you as you go from a vague resolution at New Year’s to Tough Mudder shape for the spring.

The following monitors have great features and deliver the most accurate results in the category. Keep in mind that for these devices, accuracy is also dependent on you. To get good, consistent readings, you need to hop on the scale at the same time of day, at roughly the same hydration level, in the same temperature room, and without having exercised in the last few hours.

Withings Smart Body Analyzer
Tanita BC-1500 Ironman Radio Wireless
Fitbit Aria

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