Knowing your body fat percentage is a critical tool in understanding your overall health understanding health risks. Reducing your body’s fat, particularly around your belly, no only makes you look and feel better but also reduces your risk of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease (2).
The good news is that even a small weight loss of between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight will help to lower your risk of developing these diseases (4).
And now, it’s easier than ever to track your body fat with digital tools like smart scales, smart scanners, and tape measures, as well as apps for iPhones, Apple Watches, and Android devices.
This article discusses why knowing and reducing fat, particularly belly fat, is important and outlines a few products to help you know and manage your body fat percentage.
In a hurry?
For those that want our recommendations without getting all the details, here are our top belly and body fat measuring gear.
- Bello Body Fat Scanner
- Bagel Pie Labs smart tape measure
- Ketoscan mini breath ketone meter
- Withings Body+ smart scale
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 features a Body Fat estimation function
- Best Smart Tape measures for your health and fitness goals
- 5 best Apple Health app compatible smart scales for every budget
- Top 3 Samsung Health compatible scales
Why is having fat around your belly bad?
There are three different types of fat in the body- Essential, Subcutaneous, and Visceral.
- Essential fat is necessary for good health and is located in your nerves, brain, bone marrow, and organ membranes.
- Subcutaneous fat makes up most of our body fat (it is stored under the skin as an energy source.
- Visceral fat is found in the abdomen and around the major organs.
A high body fat percentage, and in particular a high amount of Visceral fat, can increase your risk for a number of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia (abnormal levels of cholesterol), hypertension, and coronary heart disease (1).
If you have excess fat around your belly (subcutaneous fat), you are likely to have excess fat around your organs (visceral fat).
Even if you have a low body mass index (BMI) a large waist circumference is associated with a higher risk of illness and death from Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (3).
A large waist circumference is also a common marker of poor fitness (2).
How can you reduce body fat?
Improving your cardiovascular fitness can help you to lose body and belly fat, lower your weight, and also reduce the risks of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia and reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (3).
It has been found that men with high cardiovascular fitness have significantly less total abdominal fat, both subcutaneous and visceral fat when compared to men with low cardiovascular fitness (3).
What should my body fat percentage be?
The US army uses body fat standards that are set between 20–26% for men and 30–36% for women, depending on age groups.
The upper range of the percentages aligns with the maximum body fat values recommended in U.S national health goals (2).
Why is belly fat hard to lose?
Fat cells can be divided into two subtypes: Alpha and Beta. Different areas of the body have different amounts of each of these cells. Some having a higher amount of Alpha cells than Beta, and vice versa.
Beta cells do not respond as easily to the fat breakdown process (lipolysis) as Alpha cells.
Some areas of your body will contain more Beta fat cells, so you will find it to be more difficult to get rid of excess fat in these areas.
When you are trying to lose fat, you may see changes in your legs, face, and arms first because these areas have more Alpha cells, whereas areas like the hips, thighs, and belly have more Beta cells, consequently making it harder to lose fat from these areas.
It can be more difficult to reduce the fat around your belly because it has a higher amount of Beta fat cells, which don’t respond as easily to the fat-breakdown process.
How is belly fat measured?
The gold standard to assess abdominal fat is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) but MRI is expensive and needs to be performed in a clinic or hospital.
Techniques such as computerized tomography (CT), dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA), are alternatives that provide similar accuracy of results as MRI .
So how can you measure your belly fat at home?
Instead of guessing, looking in the mirror, or using your clothes as a guide, there are several different types of smart devices with apps available for use at home and which can measure your body fat.
There are many options available, depending on your preferences and needs.
Home devices are available that use many different types of technologies such as bioelectrical impedance, infrared light, and breath analysis, and there are simpler options such as digital tape measures with apps.
We broke down our recommendations into four different types of devices with apps that you can use at home to monitor your body fat and track your fat loss journey.
Bello Belly Fat Scanner
This belly fat scanner uses Near-Infrared Light (NIR) which is a new method to analyze fat levels to a CT scan level accuracy.
This means the readings are not affected by water intake and will give you precise results.
It works by focusing NIR on one area of the belly and the reflected signals are analyzed.
It is easy to use simply hold the scanner over the area which you want to analyze and the results can be viewed on the app on your mobile phone in just 3 seconds.
Plus, it syncs with Apple Health and Google Fit, allowing you to keep all your information in one place.
Features of Bello Belly Fat Scanner
- Portable, pocket-sized, and lightweight.
- Free App compatible with Apple Health and Google Fit.
- Readings of your inner (visceral) and outer (subcutaneous) fat.
- Complete review and analysis of your daily progress.
- Syncs via Bluetooth connection.
- LED display for device status.
- Easy to use with one button
- Quick results seen in 3 seconds
- Lasts up to 4 months after a full charge.
- Sharable with up to 4 people. Each person needs their own account.
- One-year warranty on the hardware.
- 【Why Measure Belly Fat?】 Excessive visceral belly fat is one of the leading causes of...
- 【Accurate Measurement】 Holistic view of your inner (visceral) and outer (subcutaneous) fat....
BAGEL Pie Labs Smart Tape Measure for Your Body
This product is a digital tape measure with a companion app. At this time, the app sync with Apple Health only, although the company is working on integration with Google Fit and MyFitnessPal.
You use the tape measure to take measurements of different areas around the body as described in the Pie Fit app. Areas include biceps, waist, hip, thigh, calf, and any other area you want to measure.
The tape measure automatically syncs your measurements directly to the Pie Fit app. The app then calculates your body fat and stores your readings. All readings are stored in the app, the device does not have any onboard memory to store data.
Fully charged, the rechargeable battery lasts for months with at least 10 measurement hours.
Features of Bagel Pie Labs Smart Tape Measure
- Easy to track your progress with an app measurement chart and graphs.
- The app tracks your waist-to-hip ratio, to give you an assessment of overall health.
- Uses either metric tape or the Imperial measurement system.
- Seven different body parts can be measured and progress tracked. Keep track of changes in biceps, calves, hips, thighs, waist, shoulders, and bust.
- The Pie App can track up to 100 people.
- Ability to store different goals and track progress for each person.
- Integrates with Apple Health.
✔ TRACK PROGRESS - The Bagel Pie Smart Tape Measure pairs with the PIE for Healthcare Tape...
✔ BODY COMPOSITION ASSESSMENT - Weight alone is not an accurate indicator of body fat...
V2 KETOSCAN Mini Breath Ketone Meter, Diet & Fitness Tracker
Ketoscan mini is a portable breath acetone analyzer that measures the ketone level in your exhaled breath. Ketones naturally occur when your body burns fat and as you burn more body fat, the ketones increase.
The device measure ketones in your breath and its companion Ketoscan app then calculates your body’s fat-burning rate.
It is easy to use: turn it on, wait 30 or so seconds for the device to initialize, then simply blow into the device for 3 seconds to see your fat metabolism.
The results can help you determine your body’s fat-burning rate, your optimal ketosis state and can help you plan your nutrition and exercise regime.
- Non-invasive and no blood test and finger pricks required. Just use your breath to measure your level of ketosis.
- Record and track your acetone levels. Warns you if you approach a dangerous level of ketosis.
- Use the device with or without the Ketoscan app. You don’t need to connect it to your phone to use it!
- Record and track your daily calories and add photos of the food you have eaten.
- Device results show on both the device and in the app.
- Must replace sensor after 300-320 uses. Sensor replacement service is available for about $30. After 300 tests the app sends an alarm to replace the sensor to ensure accuracy of readings.
- [MADE IN KOREA] Ketoscan mini is a portable breath acetone analyzer that measures the ketone level...
- ✔NON-INVASIVE AND CALCULATE BODY FAT BURNING RATE : No need to prick your fingers. Just blow into...
Withings Body+ Wi-Fi Body Composition Smart Scale
If you want a scale to help measure your body fat, look for a scale that features a measurement of your full body composition via bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) like Withings Body+.
This device is a weighing scale that syncs automatically, using Wi-Fi (or if that’s not available, Bluetooth) with the Health Mate app.
This smart scale gives a full body composition reading using bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). With BIA technology, this scale sends a tiny, harmless electrical current through your body to measure its total percentage of water. Using that information, the scale is able to calculate using its set of unique algorithms your body fat percentage (fat mass) and your body mass index or BMI.
In addition to body fat mass, this smart scale also gives you a full body composition analysis including details on your muscle mass, bone mass, and water mass.
Because the scale uses Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth, you do not need to have your phone with you when you or other family members use the scale. It recognizes you automatically and sends the data only to your device.
- Gives a full body composition reading, including body fat and water percentage and muscle and bone mass.
- Battery lasts up to 18 months with regular use.
- The Health Mate app records and tracks the data of up to 8 people.
- Pregnancy mode (healthy weight gain range and obstetrician-reviewed advice) and Baby Mode to track the weight of your body (when you step on the scale holding your baby.)
- Precise readings using Position Control Technology, which guides you to the correct place to stand on the scale.
- Scale and the Health Mate app are compatible with Apple Health, Fitbit, and Google Fit along with Apple Watch and over 100 third-party partner health and fitness apps like Strava, MyFitnessPal, Weight Watchers WW, Lose It!, and other popular apps.
- Offers a 1-year warranty.
- #1 SELLING SMART SCALE IN THE US
- FULL BODY COMPOSITION - Monitors weight (kg, lb, st), body fat & Water %, plus muscle & bone mass....
I hope that this article helped you to understand the importance of reducing your belly fat and informed you about some of the different ways in which you can measure and track your fat loss with smart devices at home.
Good luck on your fat loss journey, and your path to better health.
If you have any more questions or anything to add, please feel free to let us and everyone else know about it in the comments section down below!
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(1) Bello-Chavolla et al (2020) Metabolic Score for Visceral Fat (METS-VF), a novel estimator of intra-abdominal fat content and cardio-metabolic health Clinical Nutrition Volume 39, Issue 5, May 2020, Pages 1613-1621.
(2) Karl E. Fried l (2004) Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics. (Oct )732-749.http://doi.org/10.1089/dia.2004.6.732.
(3) WONG, S, L. et al (2004) Cardiorespiratory Fitness is Associated with Lower Abdominal Fat Independent of Body Mass Index, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February Volume 36 Issue 2 – p 286-291 DOI: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000113665.40775.35
(4) U.S. Department of Health & Human Services https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/risk.htm
Last update on 2021-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API