As a culture, we’re pretty obsessed with the idea of weight loss. From gym memberships to fad diets to good old fashioned fruits and veggies, I’d venture to say most people have tried something or other to try to shed a few extra pounds. But whether you’ve lost the weight and are looking to keep it off, or if you still have a couple inches you’d like to shed, one of the simplest, easiest tools to help you keep on track is… a scale. If you check and record your weight regularly – especially if you keep a record of what and how much you’re eating, too – it can help you track your goals and watch your results unfold. But there are a lot of different kinds of scales in a lot of different price ranges. This guide can help you pick the right one for your needs.
This is the scale your gramma had in her bathroom, and her gramma before her. A mechanical or analogue scale like this Analog Bath Scale is full of moving gears and springs that respond to your weight when you step on them. Now, while these are the most common and usually the least expensive, they also tend to be the least accurate, because the mechanisms that make the scale display your weight can get worn out and thrown off balance. If you’re looking for an inexpensive scale, or a rough ballpark of your weight rather than a very specific number, this is probably the type for you.
Professional Mechanical Scale
Of course, not all mechanical scales are inaccurate or prone to wear out – but if you’re looking for the real deal, you probably want a professional scale – the type you’d find in a doctor’s office or gym, like this Health-O-Meter. These are super accurate, and stay that way, but also take up a little more space than your average bathroom scale, and tend to run in the couple-hundred-dollars range. Unless you really like the gym chic – say, for your home gym – or mistrust and fear technology, this type of scale is probably a pass.
If you aren’t looking to fit a huge gym scale in a small bathroom, but you want to get an accurate readout, you should probably look into getting a digital scale. Any scale that isn’t mechanical falls under this category, but within it there’s a lot of variance. You can get anything from scales that simply weigh you, to scales that record your (and usually up to 5 family member’s) weight history, your body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI), and even connect to your WiFi to help you track all this data online. But what do you actually need?
Just A Scale
For all the fancy gadgets you can find on a scale, the most accurate, consistent, and long-lasting digital scales tend to be the ones that just tell you your weight and nothing else. This Taylor Precision Glass Scale does exactly that – with step-on functionality (no pre-weighing tap to turn it on) and an easy-to-read display, it will give you a fast, accurate, and consistent weight reading.
Body Fat Monitor
Scales that measure your body fat percentage do so by sending small, harmless electrical pulse up through your feet. This little jolt travels through your body and back out onto the metal pads on the scale. Because the current moves differently through fat and muscle, the scale can then estimate what percentage of your body is fat, which is an extremely useful way for people who are looking to both lose fat and build muscle to track their progress, when their weight alone might not tell the whole story. The problem with this type of scale is that they can be off by 5-10%. This number can be reduced by measuring your weight under the same conditions every day (at the same time, before eating, after peeing, etc.) and can be useful to help track progress over time, as the numbers tend to be consistent, if not necessarily 100% accurate. This OMRON HBF-400 is less expensive than most models, but both accurate and consistent for it’s type. (Note: this is NOT the scale for pregnant ladies or especially people with pacemakers who should be wary of even small electrical shocks).
BMI And Others
BMI, or body mass index, is another common standard used to predict overall health. Essentially, it uses your height and weight to estimate your body composition and let you know if you’re light, heavy, or about right for your size. BMI, however, is skewed for heavily muscular people, as muscle weighs more than fat, but even though it’s healthier, BMI will count it against you. For this reason, very few scales feature BMI alone, but many, like this Tanita Innerscan and its cousin the Tanita Body Fat Monitor display a whole host of other information, from bone mass and daily caloric intake, to body water % and other health indicators. Remember, though, that all these features don’t necessarily add up to a more accurate scale.
Weight Over Time
One feature that a lot of users seem to like is scales like this Weight Watcher Scale that are able to track weight change over time. Programmable for up to four users, this scale can track your start weight, last weight, and weight goal – great for a family trying to slim down together!
If you need a scale accurate over 350 lbs, or if you have trouble reading the display on your scale, this My Weigh XL-550 is designed to be accurate up to 550 lbs (which is about as high as most scales go without ranging back up into the hundreds of dollars) and will speak your weight aloud as it registers. It can take a few seconds longer than your average scale to take a reading, but has a wide platform and is comfortable to stand on. It’s cousin, the My Weigh Phoenix has a 330lb capacity, but also reads the weight aloud for anyone that has trouble seeing or bending to view the digital face.
How you want to go about losing weight is up to you – but a good scale can help you stay on task, keep track of your progress, and can even give you information that, once, you could only get from a doctor, dietitian, or personal trainer. Remember, though, that weight is just a number – and that’s something even the best scale might not remind you! But what do you want out of a scale – help with your weight loss, a morning check-in, or something else? Let me know in the comments!