Stepping on the scale is traditionally a fairly simple affair. You step on, rub your eyes in disbelief at the number given, and step off already mentally knocking a couple of kilos off the weight shown for reasons that seem entirely justifiable at the time.
The scales of today, however, go well beyond basic weight measurements. They can also tell you how much of your body is fat, muscle, water and bone. They can even recognise which member of your household is stepping on the scales and beam your results to an app.
This is all valuable information, because trying to be healthier is about much more than simply losing weight – which doesn’t take into account the muscle you might have gained through exercise, or whether you’re actually shredding fat as the kilos drop off you. Admittedly, smart scales are not 100% accurate, but they’re useful to show changes over time – certainly more so than those that measure your body mass and nothing more.
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“Changes over time” is the key phrase to remember when using scales of any type. If you’re weighing yourself every day, or even multiple times in any given day, your readings are likely to get skewed by fluctuations in weight that are due to short-term factors like a big lunch or being dehydrated rather than actual changes in your body composition.
If you’re in the middle of an intense training and diet plan with the aim of losing weight, stepping on the scales once a week is a good approach. Try to weigh yourself under similar conditions each time – on the same day at around the same time, with similar clothing on. There’s no way to completely remove short-term fluctuations from the picture, but after a couple of months of weekly weigh-ins any upward or downward trends in your body composition should be clear.
To get an in-depth understanding of your body in your bathroom, try one of these smart scales.
Fitbit Aria 2
The main selling point of the Fitbit Aria 2 is that it beams all the stats it tracks into the excellent Fitbit app, which combines them with any data collected from a Fitbit fitness tracker and any food and drink you’ve logged, giving an impressively complete picture of your lifestyle. It takes a bit of work on your part, especially when it comes to inputting the food you eat, but if you’re a health data junkie there is no better platform to use than the Fitbit app and connected devices. All the info collected by the Aria 2 – including weight, BMI, body fat percentage and lean mass – is clearly displayed in graphs in the app so you can track any trends over time. £119.99, buy on fitbit.com, check price on amazon.co.uk
Garmin Index Smart Scale
Like the Fitbit Aria, the Garmin Index Smart Scale’s biggest plus point for many people will be the ability to use it in partnership with a Garmin fitness tracker and the Garmin Connect app. The scale tracks key stats like weight, BMI, body fat and muscle mass, and beams them over to the app, which pops all the info into easy-to-read graphs. They’re especially easy to read if your weight and body fat are trending the way you want them to. £149.99, buy on garmin.com, check price on amazon.co.uk
This snazzy scale measures your weight, body fat, water content, body mass index (BMI), bone content and muscle percentage, and sends all the results to the partner Qardio app to track changes over time. It also offers a clever Smart Feedback option, for people who don’t want to see numbers every day – step on the scale and you’ll be greeted with a smiling, frowning or straight-line-mouth face depending on your results. £129.99, buy on getqardio.com, check price on amazon.co.uk
Nokia Body Cardio
On top of providing all your body composition stats – weight, body fat, BMI, water percentage and muscle and bone mass – the Nokia Body Cardio scale goes above and beyond by giving a picture of your heart health as well. This is done through measuring your standing heart rate and something called your pulse wave velocity. Hey, we’re not sure what it is either, but it’s apparently an excellent indicator of cardiovascular health. The impressive Nokia app gives more info on pulse wave velocity, as well as advice on how to improve it, plotting your progress on this and all the other body composition stats it monitors. £149.95, buy on health.nokia.com, check price on amazon.co.uk
Although it’s less than half the price of the other options on this list, the Tanita BC-731 offers all the body composition stats you’d hope for, including weight, body fat, muscles mass and BMI. It also goes beyond other scales in giving a visceral fat estimate (the more dangerous fat that builds up around your organs), your metabolic age and even a physique rating based on all of the above. It won’t send those results to a partner app, but does allow for up to five user profiles to be saved on the scales. £53.35, buy on tanita.eu, check price on amazon.co.uk