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DISCLAIMER: Etekcity sent me this scale for free in order to write this review.
5/23/19 EDIT: Etekcity is sending a new unit to replace the defective one.
How Body Fat Scales Work
(You can skip to the next section if you only care about the review portion.)
When it comes to tracking progress for weight loss or muscle growth, we have a few options to choose from. Weight, tape measurements, progress pictures, and body fat percentage are the most popular.
Personally, I have my clients weigh daily, take waist measurements weekly, and take front, side, and rear progress pictures every four weeks.
I do not use body fat percentage to track their progress and I’ll explain why. When it comes to body fat tracking, there’s about 10 ways you can measure it. The most popular methods are:
Body Fat Calipers
DEXA and underwater weighing are more accurate, but they cost money (and that’s if you even have a facility in your area with the necessary equipment). Getting calipered is cheaper, but you still have to have someone do it for you to be accurate.
That leaves us with bioimpedance scales, like this Etekcity Bluetooth scale, which is what we’re going to focus on today. The way bioimpedance scales work is when you step on the scales, the electrical contacts send a small current through one leg and out the other.
Based on the resistance of different types of body tissues and water, the scale will use an algorithm to estimate your body fat percentage. (More on this later.)
Bioimpedance scales are one of the less accurate ways to measure body fat, but they’re the most convenient because you don’t have to do anything extra. You simply step on the scale to weigh yourself and automatically get your body fat percentage as well.
One thing to keep in mind before moving on to the review is the current only goes through your legs and lower trunk, which might skew your results. For example, I store most of my fat in my stomach and legs. My arms, chest, back, and shoulders are relatively lean. Because of this, scales read my body fat as slightly higher than it is. (Again, more on this in a moment.)
Etekcity Bluetooth Body Fat Scale
As I said at the beginning, Etekcity sent me this scale to review and I’ve been using it for about three weeks now. I’ll give you the pros and cons first, then give you some details on my experience with Etekcity after.
The scale tracks body weight, BMI, body fat, fat-free body weight, subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, body water, skeletal muscle, muscle mass, bone mass, protein, BMR, and metabolic age.
The scale comes with a companion app that logs each of these measurements and puts them in a graph so you can track them over time.
The scale has a wide surface area, making it easier to stand on.
Lastly, the scale came with name-brand batteries installed. Other scales either don’t come with batteries or come with temporary batteries that are meant to be removed within a month of use. It was a small touch, but an appreciated one.
Unfortunately, that’s where the pros end.
The scale failed to track bioimpedance data almost every single time I stepped on, so it failed to capture anything other than my body weight. When it did manage to capture the data, the app would often log two or three entries. Since the entries were duplicates, it didn’t really matter. It’s just something to be aware of.
As I said earlier, the scales use an algorithm to interpret the data. Two similar scales can estimate your body fat very differently depending on the calculations used. That said, if you look at the screenshot above, you’ll notice this scale estimates me to be 26% body fat.
Here’s a morning picture of me from 5/17/19. Based on how I look and previous body fat measurements, I estimate my body fat percentage to be about 13% at the time of writing.
Without going too far off on a tangent, my estimation would have to be off by 25 pounds of body fat for this scale to be correct. I did say earlier that bioimpedance scales were not incredibly accurate, but they’re usually more accurate than this one from my experience.
My experience with this scale was unfortunately not a good one, but to be fair, I believe the unit I received was either a defect or damaged internally. I did voice these concerns to Etekcity, but they were dismissed. That said, this unit is the only thing I have to base my review on.
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