Calipers and bathroom scales are not always enough for those who want more data on how fast they are burning fat and building muscle. People resort to several techniques to get information on their body composition and bioelectrical impedance analysis or BIA is one of the most common methods in this regard. To understand the pros and cons of this technology, we should first discuss what it is.
BIA depends on the fact that muscle tissue allows your body to retain water while fat tissue contains little water. A person with more muscle rather than fat, also has more water and because water is a great conductor of electric current, a muscular person’s tissues will have less electric resistance than an obese person. Devices that use BIA, send a very weak electric current through the human body and make an estimation of body fat percentage based on the electric resistance.
In most devices that depend on BIA, the conductivity of your tissues is not the only variable in calculation of the fat percentage. The weak electric current usually passes through the legs and the ratio of fat stored in the lower part of the body is more in females than it is in males. For this reason, you often have to manually enter information on your gender, age and height to help the scales in making more accurate estimations about the composition of your tissues.
The main advantage of BIA is its affordable application in home scales. While professional athletes often have the finances and motivation to pay for expensive body composition monitoring services offered at special facilities, lay people want a solution that takes less money and time. Body fat scales equipped with BIA technology cater to this demand. They are available at a price comparable to a simple bathroom scale and make it possible to get useful information on how your diet is affecting your body without visiting a doctor’s office or a gym.
Although there is growing interest in body composition scales, a considerable number of consumers question the reliability and accuracy of these devices. Honestly, there is some merit to their doubts. BIA technology heavily depends on the ability of water in body to conduct electricity and variations in hydration level can lead to sharp fluctuations in body composition calculations. This is why people often find a radical difference between the body compositions calculated before and after exercise. Cardio or weight training alter the fluid level in the body rather quickly. The same is the case when you eat or drink. Long story short, you need to consider how hydrated you are before you step on a body fat scale if you want to get an accurate reading.
In conclusion, an impartial review of bioelectrical impedance technology reveals that it has both advantages and disadvantages. What we can say for sure is that it is the best option for home applications.