BMI Versus Tanita to determine Fitness or Fatness
In my book, Second Chance at Health-Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating, I discuss that the first step to determining one’s health status is weight. One of the most commonly used measurement is the Body Mass Index. Body Mass Index is a height to weight ratio and while it is a valuable starting point, there are a lot of variables that make it less reliable. Since this blog is mainly for middle aged people, I love to use the example of Arnold Schwarzenegger! When he was a beast, his height and weight ratio, that is his Body Mass Index (BMI) had him at >30, which put him in the obese category. Clearly the man, at his peak of training, was anything but obese and this illustrates that not all pounds are equal.
One of the more specific tools that can be used to assist in determining health status is the Tanita scale. If you’ve been reading any of my blogs you will know that I tout this scale relentlessly. It has useful data about body composition rather than just a ratio number. Monitoring your body composition is an important aspect of health management. The Tanita company is one provider that has this technology in the bag. According to their website they have been in business since 1944, and their only business is scales. Please see their website link at the end of the article.
The technology uses bioelectrical impedance that is measured as it passes through hydrated body tissues (muscle, fat, bone).This type of body composition assessment has been supported by science and validated by many studies. Their website states that their accuracy is within 50-100 grams!
As you know if you’ve been reading my blogs and Facebook posts, I only talk about what I have personal experience with and this Tanita brand is what I have used professionally and personally.
Professionally I used this when I worked at a fabulously successful weight loss franchise in Austin, Texas, Med-Weight Loss: The One that Works! They used the professional Tanita scale product and this was one of the program parameters that really helped people stay on track.
The parameters that I find helpful include:
Weight Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Fat % Metabolic Age
Fat Mass Visceral Fat Rating
Fat Free Mass Ideal Body Weight
Muscle Mass Physique Rating
Total Body Water %
Total Body Water
How Does this Magic Work?
It does seem like magic, but there is science behind it. Bioelectrical Impedance is a safe, (if you do not have an implanted medical electrical device) low level, electrical signal that enters your body through your feet for the step on scales and your hands for the hand-held types. The signal passes quickly through tissue that is highly hydrated like muscle and body tissue and more slowly through fat tissue. This difference is measured by the computer in the machine and uses special scientifically validated formulae to calculate the body’s composition.
These scales should not be used if you have any implanted medical device such as a heart pacemaker. Additionally, it is not recommended that pregnant women use this technology!
Why Do I Recommend Using the Tanita Scale?
I recommend using scales that give this data because weight alone is not the best indicator of a healthy body! Being overfat can cause a multitude of serious health issues. Analysis can reveal if body composition is in the healthy range. For example, being skinny fat, this is a condition when one is within the normal weight range, however they have higher than acceptable body fat percentages. This normal weight person then has an increased risk for developing some of the same serious health condition associated with being obese. In average cases the BMI is a fabulous starting point to assist in determining if exercise or eating plan adjustments need to be made, but for specific plans I recommend using the Tanita scale information! Indeed, if Arnold Schwarzenegger had his weight measured on the Tanita scale, I am sure his body fat percentage would be lower than 8% (that is a guess so don’t hold me to it and but the internet estimates it between 6-8%).
The Tanita scale company provides many options for models that offer the parameters that I listed, some models have more features and some have fewer. Some of the models are blue tooth ready even!
I have always had access to the professional models which are priced in the thousands. Consumer models are priced much more affordably at between under $100 to under $600 for the top models with many more features than I am familiar with!
In my opinion, the Tanita brand is the Cadillac of scales that offer these features, and in keeping with my brand of recommendation, I have used it with success and recommend purchasing one of these machines. (Oh and I am certainly not paid for this recommendation….they don’t know me from Adam, but tell them nursechrisp.com sent you!)
If you are middle aged and are healthy and want to stay that way, using the Tanita scale can help.
If you are middle aged and have some health issues, my ebook Second Chance at Health: Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating can help you!
I look forward to hearing from you!
And just for the record if you have any medical electronic implantable devices… or are pregnant… DO NOT USE THIS SCALE…