T Nation

need help with cheating on the Tanita scale


Our office is having one of those "3 months challenge" to see who can lose the most body fat over this peroid. This coming Monday will be the end of the competition. The only form of measurement we have is a Tanita Scale.

At the beginning competition I weighed in at 71kg, 34.5" waist and a body fat of 24%. I am now at 68kg with a 31" waist. I can also see a "4 pack". HOWEVER, the Tanita scale still show my body fat to be 20%, what give ?

I am sure this number is too high, as I have been working out 5 times a week for the past 3 months (3 weight days and 2 cardio days, for cardio I run 45 mins at ave heart rate of 150-160/mim). My maintenance calories is approx 2000 cal, during these 3 months I am taking in around 1600 per day (50% Protein, 30% fat (flax seed oils mainly) and 20% carb). I change back to a more ?normal? diet 1 week out of every 3-4 weeks, but still eating clean.

Can anyone tell me how I can bring down the reading on the Tanita scale? I did some reading on Bio Impedance Analysis (BIA) and the bottom line is more muscle traps more water, which leads to lower resistance to the electrical signal. Does that mean, if I want to ?simulate? more muscle all I have to do is load up with creatine and drinks lots of water to bring my body fat measurement down ? In practice however, I found my body fat reading on the scale to be lower when I am dehydrated, but this is only 7 out of every 10 occasion.

I know the ultimate test is to use a mirror but I really do want to win this competition. If I can ?lower? the reading to 14-15% then it is in the bag. Any suggestions will be much appreciated. Thanking you in advance.


The Tanita that I have has always been like this. I seem to measure best when carb depleted. The tanita says 24% for me but I know I'm more like 16-17%. Its always measured really high. I stopped using it as an accurate measurement and started using it as a "relative" measurement. I think to some degree if you see a difference and its consistent I would trust it at least that much as long as my water levels are relatively consistent and the times I measure are also consistent. I don't know of anyway of "cheating". I would assume that changes in height relative to its settings might be a difference?


You have to dehydrate yourself. Some wrestlers used to do this in order to pinch smaller amounts. Usually though they make you pee in a cup to see if you're hydrated. If thats the case just scoop some water out of the toilet bowl and mix a little pee in there.


this is actually an excellent question if only intellectually. the bioimpedence scales give me such a skewed number that i do not trust them at all. i did a 4 site caliper test @ 11.7% and the scale had me @34$!!!

also at the gym we have a better BI machine with a wand and computer that is much closer to accurate and i have seen women be off by as much as 6-7% during their week (high). now would water retention be higher during or lower? i know water retention goes up prior and at some point has to go down, but being a guy i didn't ask such detailed questions.


it all goes wiht understanding how the thing actually works.

Bio impedance works by measuring electrical resistance across your body(an ohm meter for you body).

Muscle and lean tissue has a lower resistance to the flow of electrons, so the leaner you are, the lower you measure.

So, the best way to fake out a bio-impedance device is to essentailly super-hydrate yourself. Even better, electrolytes and salt water conduct electricty even better. So, if it were me, and I were trying to cheat, I'd would sodium/water load leading up to the test. It may sound stupid, but even soaking your feet in nice salty water before the test could help you as well.



Try grabbing your ancles and it'll give you a lot lower reading. I got it from another poster a while ago on this board, if you are wondering how I know this.


I found that doing #2 usually drops the reading by 2%. Also taking a reading midday got me the lowest and most consistant reading.


oh shit i though it said caliper test my bad.


I wonder why when I was depleted I would get the best readings; it was always after a workout. I wonder if all the subcutaneous sweat water and hydration from working out with the salt made my readings better... I guess it must have if I was carb depleted at the time?


I just tested myself and got 12%. Now I have veins coming out of my stomach and more than one vein. I would say that it is a little off. I even have my pic in the photo section and I'm pretty sure I'm 10% or lower.


Get your feet wet before you get on the scale and over-hydrate as well.

I have a Tanita Bf and it can be a joke. I lost like six pounds of BF one time and my reading went up 3%!

Other times it correlates well with calipers.



Only three days to go! I think I am going to go down the dehydration route as that has given better reading in the past. I notice my reading usually goes up after I have some water.

JasonL, what you say about grabbing the ankle is true, the reading do come down dramatically.I think the reason for this is because I was crouching down, this would reduce the "distance" the electrical signal has to travel, thus the resistance between the two points of contact is lower. We also have one of the Omron body fat measuring devise and you can get the same result by bending your elbows. Unfortunately, we have to stand erect when doingthe measurements.

Once again thanks for all the replies, much appreciated.


Skin temperature also affects the reading. Whether that means only the temp of your feet or your entire body, I don't know.

But I do know that I'll get the lowest BF% readings in the afternoon (partially due to hydration, I imagine) and after a good bout of cardio. After an early evening run yesterday my reading was a full 2% points lower than it was that morning.


Anyone have a good site that explains how to do the caliper test properly? I'm sure i'm still way off.