The 10 Best BMI Scales
This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in June of 2015. You can track your health and fitness progress comprehensively using sophisticated technology if you invest in one of these BMI scales. Many of our top picks can store profiles for several members of your family, and are capable of syncing to your smartphone or other mobile device using Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity, so you can easily analyze the data collected over time. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 18, 2020:
The advanced metrics you'll get from a BMI scale (muscle mass, body water, etc.) tend not to be as accurate as professional-grade machines and scans, but this information can be incredibly useful for staying motivated and tracking your progress over time. Note, though, that most aren't recommended for users who are pregnant or who have a defibrillator or pacemaker, because of the bioelectrical impedance analysis, which uses a small current.
At this time, the Renpho Bluetooth remains the choice to beat. Its app is useful but not overly complicated, and the setup isn't too difficult, either. It provides a range of metrics, from basal metabolism to metabolic age, and is reasonably priced, especially considering the features. The FitIndex Analyzer is a good choice, as well, although those with very large feet might not find the platform to be big enough. And speaking of size, we've added the diminutive Yunmai X Mini. It weighs a light 2.6 pounds and has a platform that's just a touch over 10 inches square, so you could travel with it, if you really needed to. Finally, we've opted to keep the Triomph Digital. It does not offer Bluetooth or Wi-Fi functionality, much like the model from Nutri Fit, so it operates more like a regular weight scale, but with a souped-up display.
Seca mBCA 515 In a medical setting, the Seca mBCA 515 can be an invaluable tool, one that uses hand-held electrodes and a large, sturdy glass platform to measure everything from fat mass to body water. A robust model, it works with patients weighing up to 300 kilograms and only requires about 20 seconds to take its readings. seca.com
The Importance Of Knowing Your BMI
However, there is some controversy on where the line should be drawn for each category, as there seem to be differences in body composition in various cultures.
If you've kept up with health trends over the past few years, you might have seen a new term being thrown around: BMI, or body mass index. This number is beginning to replace your weight as an indicator of your fitness level, as it's considered a more reliable indicator of overall health.
The main advantage BMI has is that it takes into account the impact height has on body composition. After all, just using your weight can give misleading results. For example, is 220 pounds too much for you to weigh? Obviously, that depends on a wide range of factors — it may be fine for someone who's 6 feet 4 inches tall, but way too much for someone only 5 feet 1 inch.
It's important to realize that your BMI is not the same as your body fat percentage, although the results do tend to be correlated. BMI isn't the end-all be-all of weight measurements, but doctors have noticed that BMI is linked to various metabolic and disease outcomes. Simply put, the higher your BMI, the more likely you are to be at risk of suffering from weight-related issues.
BMIs are broadly categorized into four different ranges: underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese. However, there is some controversy on where the line should be drawn for each category, as there seem to be differences in body composition in various cultures. Asians appear to be at risk for diseases like diabetes when at a lower BMI than their European counterparts, for example.
The metric is not without its detractors. Some scientists point out that BMI fails to account for the difference between muscle mass and fat, and that it doesn't accurately reflect frame size. Also, different studies have disagreed on when exactly a BMI level begins to be problematic.
Right now, the evidence seems to suggest that knowing your BMI will give you valuable insight into your overall health, especially when compared to merely knowing your weight. However, it's still just a single data point, and you should give more credence to what your doctor says than what the scale does.
How Do BMI Scales Work?
You may be wondering how a simple digital scale can figure out your body composition; after all, it seems too good to be true that you can just stand on a flat device and have it reveal the wonders of your inner workings. It may reassure you to know that, while these scales aren't perfect, they are capable of doing a pretty good job of calculating your BMI.
As long as the numbers keep trending in the direction you want them to go, you're doing fine.
Most of them work using something called bioelectrical impedance analysis. This is a process through which your body's ability to oppose the flow of an electrical current is measured. Once this is calculated, the scale can then estimate how much of your body is made of water, and by extension, how much body fat you carry. From there, it's a simple matter of comparing your weight with your body fat percentage to arrive at your BMI.
While this may sound scary, the electrical impulse is virtually unnoticeable. The bigger concern is how reliable they are.
It's worth noting that any home body fat analyzer will be less accurate than a reading taken by your doctor. The most precise tests are done in labs using techniques like hydrostatic weighing, x-rays, or 3D body scans. You're not going to replicate that accuracy at home, no matter how much you spend on a scale.
That said, BMI scales can still give you important information. After all, knowing your exact BMI is less valuable to your weight loss efforts than charting its change over time. Regardless of whether the scale is accurate down to the decimal point, it will still be helpful so long as it's consistent.
Remember, this scale is merely a tool to guide you towards your fitness goals. It's not judge, jury, and executioner, though it may feel that way at times. As long as the numbers keep trending in the direction you want them to go, you're doing fine.
If they stop going in the right direction, however, it may be time to remind your BMI calculator what happened to the last scale that didn't tell you what you wanted to hear.
Tips For Lowering Your BMI
Looking down at the readout on the scale can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences imaginable. It's amazing how a few simple numbers can make you feel like a complete failure (trust me, I feel the same way every time I check my bank balance).
The good news is, regardless of what the scale says, there are steps you can take to lower your BMI and keep it within healthy levels. It will take some hard work and a little self-discipline, true, but the end result is well worth it.
That's all it really takes to get your BMI down to tolerable levels.
The quickest way to lower your BMI is to lose weight, and following a healthy diet is still the undefeated weight loss champ. High-protein diets seem to be the fastest method for shedding body mass, but the best diet plan will always be the one you're capable of following.
To turbocharge your weight loss efforts, pair your diet with high-intensity interval training. This exercise method, also known as the Tabata protocol (doesn't that sound like a cool spy novel?), is one of the most rapid ways to boost your body's metabolism. The best part? You can do an entire routine in less than half an hour, so you won't have to live in the gym. It's all about giving maximum effort at whatever workout you prefer, so just get yourself a clock and find an exercise you love.
That's all it really takes to get your BMI down to tolerable levels. There are no shortcuts or silver bullets — just good, old-fashioned diet and exercise.