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Tanita Body Fat Scales - what's the low-down?(7 posts)

Tanita Body Fat Scales - what's the low-down?Ostimu
Jun 3, 2001 11:30 PM
About a week ago, I bought one of those Tanita body-fat measuring scales. I couldn't justify spending $130, so I bought the cheaper $70 model. (My wife is horrified that we now have not just a scale in the house, but one that can measure body fat.)
Anyway, this cheaper model doesn't have the "Athlete" setting. Is that setting worth an extra $60?!
I'm pretty slim, and I bike about 150 miles a week on a decent week, but I don't know that I consider myself an "athlete." (I think it goes back to the issues I developed stemming from my performance in gym class back in junior high school, but that's another story. Shouldn't an "athlete" be able to catch a ball?)

My question, though, is this -- how much difference can there possibly be with that added "athlete" setting? Fat is fat, right? Has anybody with the more expensive scale, just for kicks, compared their results between the regular "adult" setting and the "athlete" setting? Which would report a higher number?

As an "adult male," the scale thinks I have 11% body fat. I'm curious what it would think if I were an "athlete." Any guess?
re: Tanita Body Fat Scales - what's the low-down?William
Jun 4, 2001 2:02 AM
Where I work, we use one of the mac daddy Tanitas, and had it tested against hydrostatic weighing and skinfolds and found it to be accurate to within 1.5%. What you need to keep in mind, is that hydration really effects the results, we typically tell athletes to drink plenty of water the nite before the test and do not eat 10 hours prior, wake up in the morning, do your business and wait to eat breakfast or drink anything until after the test. Needless to say I bought the same model for use @ home. The athlete button takes into account several factors which increase the accuracy of the measure when you get below 15% body fat. The Tanita manual defines an athlete as one who exercises more than 10 hours per week.

As long as you are testing yourself @ the same time under the same conditions each time you do it, you can know that you are getting reliable results. Don't get too obcessed with the actual number, as much as the trend. BF% decreasing, increasing, or not; that is what is most useful.

hydrated with empty stomach and bladder, that's what you need to have the most acurate results. Minimize extra weight, jewelry, clothes, wet hair, etc.

Keep that in mind.

Will
re: Tanita Body Fat Scales - what's the low-down?Big D
Jun 4, 2001 6:58 AM
I bought the Tanita 551 scale a few weeks ago and found the "athlete" mode very confusing/unbelievable. I'm 44 and bike 250 miles a week. My weight is 145 lbs. and I'm 5'9". The adult mode records me at 12-13% and the athlete mode indicates 6-7%. I honestly feel that I'm in the middle of these two.
I called Tanita to ask why such a drastic difference and they said in the athlete mode a different formular is used because of the assumption of more muscle mass.?.?
It all comes down to what being a good tool to monitor trends. As William said your fluids play a large role in the results. It is very important to test yourself keeping the routine the same.
I think the scale you purchased will help you just as much as mine and you save enough to buy another set of bibs or jersey!!!
I have a TBF-612, have yet to use the Athlete setting ...Humma Hah
Jun 4, 2001 8:12 AM
... because I rarely hit the 10-hour per week mark.

Tell your wife that the cheaper model won't work for her because it only holds settings (sex, height) for one user -- you. The family version costs more.

I've got a year and a half with mine, so far. I read Tanita's website and a few independent reviews, so knew about what to expect. The reviewers typically were more positive than Tanita. Tanita told the downsides of the device: overall accuracy can be off by up to a 5% reading, you must measure at a consistent time (pref. late afternoon), prior to exercise, well hydrated but bladder drained, and you need readings over several months to see any changes.

The Tanitas measure electrical conductance leg-to-leg, using the principle that muscle conducts, fat does not. Bioimpedance was originally designed to measure from leg to opposite arm. The Tanitas can't measure conductance above about your belly button. Thus, the Tanitas can be thrown off by two things: building muscle on your upper body will typically read as fat. Also, for cyclists, the Tanita is quite sensitive to leg muscle condition.

I had mixed feelings about mine at first. I did drop a little BF for a while, but then it seemed to climb again and I thought the scale must be crazy. Looking back at the figures I recorded, it was probably about right. This January, as I started a diet push designed to drop 2 lbs per month while increasing riding, I got a hydrostatic test done. That test put me at 1% higher than the Tanita said. Since then, I've been taking several measurements a week, entering them in a spreadsheet, doing a curve fit on them, and can say with confidence that I'm losing weight on track, its ALL bodyfat that I'm losing, not muscle, and the scales do work once you learn the tricks.

Keep the scale you have. Get a professionally done bodyfat assessment (dunk test or really good caliper test) to see how far off your scale is for your body type. Once you know your starting point, the Tanita WILL track changes quite well, given a timebase of several months.
I asked that a while backmuncher
Jun 4, 2001 9:16 AM
.....on the old board I think. The responses were that there seemed to be about a 10% ish difference on the settings, i.e. that you were 10% "fatter" if you were an athlete on the non-athlete scales - some guy had tried both, and that what the finding was.

Good news for me, as I have the non athlete ones, and was getting a bit depressed...
Athletes can catch balls? I doubt it.boy nigel
Jun 4, 2001 3:01 PM
Hey,

If you're talking about baseball (and I'll probably be killed on the board for this one), most of those guys don't need to be "athletes" (in my book, that is) to do what they do. Not compared with cyclists, anyway. Need they have high anerobic thresholds? Endurance? Sprint speed? OK, maybe sprint speed. Ability to hold an intense effort for a minute or two or three? Nah.

Sure, they have skills. Sometimes even "mad skillz." In my opinion, having these skills (catching, throwing, running bases, etc.) doesn't make one an athlete. I consider baseball more of a "game"--and one that definitely takes specialized skills/talent/training, so don't anyone get me wrong--than a sport. Hockey, basketball, and football (of the big ones, anyway) come across to me more as "sports," because of the aerobic, strength, and speed requirements (and the combination of these).

Fire away, folks, but I'm not trying to make enemies here. Does anyone else feel as I do? I just put a pro cyclist or hockey player (these guys get back to the bench WINDED after a 45-second shift, soaked with sweat--they're giving it their all out there, and playing in the COLD, not outside where it's hot) in a very different boat as a pro baseball player as far as athletics go.

By the way, Osti: you're too damned skinny as it is!! :) :) Don't worry about a thing. :) And yes, you're an athlete; don't be confused about gym class! And being an "athlete" doesn't mean that you have to compete at your chosen sport. If most people on the street (even the super-muscular and/or "in-shape" ones) tried to keep up with you on a ride, they'd lose their wind after a block or two, max. Good deal with the scale, though. A worthwhile purchase. Only someone who's "athletic" would even CARE to know their BF%, if that tells you anything about yourself.

Cheers, and catch you soon (if I can!),
Nige
One other factorpfw
Jun 4, 2001 9:22 PM
I think I read this on the Tanita box and my Dr buddy confirmed this. If your resting heart rate is below 60bpm It will throw of the machine (extra muscle mass too, as was previously noted). It has to do with the electrical impulses of the cardiac muscle being similar to the Tanita's, so again a different algorithm or electrical frequency is used. Many of the cyclists on this board have HR's in the 50's and lower.
Don't forget your crunches either. I was at a crit recently where there were some EXTREMELY well defined leg muscles supporting tiny little pot belllies, eeww! Throw in some hyperextensions too while you're down there. Your back will thank you.