Weight Loss Support - BMI - scale vs. chart vs. covert bailey method

07-08-2009, 08:17 AM
I think my scale is way off on my body fat % Reading 37%. *** Edited to say it read this bF% when I was 196 lbs.***

I am a very muscular person. Most of my fat is in my tummy, butt, and thighs--the rest of me looks like a skinny person.

Then there is the covert bailey method--which takes into consideration your body frame and all and that method gives me a 24% body fat result

Now I am like super confused. What is wrong with my scale?

and anyone hear about covert bailey?

07-08-2009, 10:04 AM
BMI is not a percentage. Are you saying that your scale is giving you a % BODY FAT number that you think is high?


07-08-2009, 10:11 AM
It wasn't clear from your message, so you may know this already. Your scale is measuring body fat, which is not directly related to BMI. So the problem is the scale says 37% and the Covert Bailey method says 24%. Unfortunately, neither one of them is necessarily accurate. My scale read 36%, yet when I had it tested by a health professional, I was told it was actually 28%. The scale is useful for telling when the body fat percentage moves; for example, if I exercise a lot, the number should go down. But the actual number it gives is probably not accurate. The Covert Bailey method is better, but it still could be wrong. This is what his site says:

For some people, however, the results of the tape measure test may not come so close to their true percent body fat. People who are very, very fit can get numbers 3 to 5 percent higher than their true percent body fat. Because they don't have a lot of fat inside their muscles, very fit people may be lower in body fat than this tape measure test indicates.

Conversely, if a person is skinny but not fit, this body fat test may yield a number 3 to 5 percent lower than his or her true percent body fat. Though they look thin, unfit skinny people really have more than the usual amount of fat inside their muscles, which you can't see from the outside.

07-08-2009, 10:45 AM
I got ya! So I can use the Covert Bailey method to see how I am doing...But use my scale to see if my numbers are changing! I am glad I am not the only one with a wayward scale. I use a Taylor it is a few years old though. It's pretty accurate on weight so I was floored when it seemed so inaccurate on body fat %. This is what I rely on the most!

07-08-2009, 10:53 AM
I tried a google search but it mostly came up with his book...how do you do the covert bailey method?

07-08-2009, 11:21 AM

here's a link directly to the calculator.


if that doesn't work, I'll explain it for you in detail.

I think the major difference is that my wrists--one of the thinnest places (they're pretty bony) on my body are still 6 inches in circumference.

07-08-2009, 11:27 AM
BMI and bodyfat are very different scales. BMI is simply a number on a chart that puts you in an approximate underweight/healthy/overweight/obese etc... range. It does not take muscle into account.

However, unless you are a bodybuilder and have an unusual amount of muscle, it really doesn't make too much of a difference.

Bodyfat simply measures the % of fat on your body, regardless of weight. A very weak but skinny woman could easily have 30% bodyfat, whereas a very muscular 160lb female could have a bodyfat of 15%.

A "true" bodyfat % rating is done through a test where they submerge you in water, and I hear it is very expensive. It is the most accurate, whereas scales can easily be off by 5%.

A 37% bodyfat reading (with a 5% difference) seems accurate for your height and weight. A bodyfat reading of 24% is at the top of the athletic range.

Check this out:

07-08-2009, 11:51 AM
Thanks! I have access to ebooks through my college's library and am reading Ultimate Fit or Fat right now :) Yay for work procrastination!

P.S. My Omicron tells me 29%, but Covert Bailey tells me 24%...I like this Covert Bailey thing :)

07-08-2009, 11:56 AM
From: http://www.dakotabody.com/images/body-fat-women.gif


07-08-2009, 11:58 AM
You may want to edit your post title to make it clear that you are talking about % body fat, not BMI. Could clear up some confusion :)

But I'm glad that you seem to have had your question answered!


07-08-2009, 01:49 PM
I just wanted to say that at your weight and height, it would not be unusual for 37% body fat to be correct. At my high weight (198) I was 44% body fat. I got down to 33% by the time I reached 153. It was measured the same way both times, and on the same machine, so even though the absolute values may not be accurate, the difference probably is.


Shannon in ATL
07-08-2009, 01:58 PM
My scale shows total weight, BMI (had to program in age & height), percent hydration, pounds of water, a body fat %, and pounds of body fat. I don't know how accurate they all are - it shows me a 19.1 BMI & 18ish% body fat, but that body fat number can change drastically if the percent water number goes low.

07-08-2009, 02:07 PM
Yeah, the bodyfat scales are usually inaccurate but usually no more than 5% so I think they are a very good home indicator. After all, a 5% difference is really not too much, it indicates your range at least and that is what is most important. Who can afford a $300 hydro test each month? LOL.

I'm at 19-20% after a few years of weight training. I'm not too strict with diet, I could go lower, but I don't feel the need. I am working on building muscle right now. This is totally unflexed (relaxed).

07-08-2009, 04:23 PM
well since there is like little to none fat on my lower legs (my calves are 15 inches in circumference). 5 lbs each on my hips, 10 lbs across my abdomen, 5 lbs across my back. 5 lbs across my butt, and another 10 lbs elsewhere--I would say 43 lbs of fat is right compared to 66--that is actually ridiculous. Now that I think of it.

I have very lean and muscular legs as well as very lean and muscular arms--so I am going with the covert bailey. I also am not a small frame. I am extremely pudgy in the middle.

however, I will use the scale to monitor my downward trend.

Thanks everyone for your input!

Something else about the scale that troubles me is that it read the same body fat% at 196 as it does at 180.6--that is why I wanted some advice on it.

07-08-2009, 04:41 PM
however, I will use the scale to monitor my downward trend.

Thanks everyone for your input!

Something else about the scale that troubles me is that it read the same body fat% at 196 as it does at 180.6--that is why I wanted some advice on it.

You might want to try hydrostatic water testing, since it is accurate within 1%. You can do it at some gyms and most universities for around $50. It's a bit $ but well worth it to truly get an accurate reading.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but at 180lbs and 5'4, being 24% - can't be accurate. I hope that doesn't upset you, but that is why I recommend hydrostatic testing so you get a realistic picture of what you are working with.

07-08-2009, 04:49 PM
I'm 5'7" 150 lbs and the covert calculator said 29% for me.
Close to what my Taylor scale says.......

I just went through the covert calculator again and it doesn't ask for your height-??????????

07-08-2009, 04:51 PM
Well, I don't think 37 is accurate either. Don't worry I'm not upset. I KNOW what I am working with. I have to get rid of saddle bags, spare tire, some cottage cheese...

I am looking more at fat loss than anything--so that really puts me at the mercy of these scales--so I don't have the money to do the hydrostatic but I can watch my progress with BOTH covert Bailey and my seemingly static scale.

Thanks again for your input!

07-08-2009, 04:52 PM
Well, the truth is that numbers are just that - numbers - if you are feeling better, sleeping better, walking better, that's all you need to know that things are going in the right direction!

07-08-2009, 04:57 PM
ddc--I am pretty muscular--but dang you have some guns...nice!

you have a Taylor too? Is it a bioimpedence? What does your Taylor say about BF%.

07-08-2009, 05:05 PM
well since there is like little to none fat on my lower legs (my calves are 15 inches in circumference). 5 lbs each on my hips, 10 lbs across my abdomen, 5 lbs across my back. 5 lbs across my butt, and another 10 lbs elsewhere--I would say 43 lbs of fat is right compared to 66--that is actually ridiculous. Now that I think of it.

If you were currently carrying only 43 pounds of fat at a total weight of 185, your "0%" body fat weight would be 142 pounds. That would make your 135 goal weight very difficult to achieve.

If you are carrying closer to 66 pounds of fat, you would weigh 119 if you lost it all. At your goal weight of 135 you would be carrying 16 pounds of fat and would have a body fat percentage of about 12%.

Of course, we all know that it isn't QUITE this cut and dried, but it's certainly some "food for thought!"

Personally I'd rather have a high body fat right now! (Which I do!) That way there's more to lose! :dizzy: :dizzy:

07-08-2009, 05:10 PM
Again, thanks for the advice!

07-09-2009, 12:29 AM
According to the link (http://www.healthcentral.com/cholesterol/home-body-fat-test-2774-143.html?ic=4004) posted in this thread, after I took the test, I have 25% body fat. And according to the site results - You have 40.5 Pounds of fat and 121.5 Pounds of lean (muscle, bone, body water) -
I find it hard to believe. I assumed it would be more. :dunno:

07-09-2009, 01:30 AM
Jennifer, my scale is about 10 (?) yrs old and says it works by bioelectrical impedence.
I'm really not sure how accurate it is, and I maybe only do the BF function a few times per year. I can tell from how I look if I'm getting too flabby-haha!
I know that it said to do the BF measurement with the feet slightly damp, so I usually do it after I get out of the shower.

Good luck to you and keep up the good work!! :)

07-09-2009, 08:27 AM
oh...i never wet my feet? I lost the instruction booklet to it a long time ago, it has all these cool modes and 2 people settings--and I don't know how to operate them anymore. I'll try it with my feet slightly wet.

07-09-2009, 11:35 AM
I would try to check the instructions. Maybe online? Because my Tanita scale says feet should be bare and clean, but not to step on the scale when wet.


07-09-2009, 12:06 PM
actually, it doesn't matter with that thing. I don't get it. AT 196 my body fat % was 37. So it irks me. I don't care because my clothes are very loose fitting and I can see a HUGE difference. I know I'm not losing all muscle because it's my squishy parts that are shrinking...

I will use covert bailey to monitor my progress. When I see progress with that--I'll try my scale again. For now, I give up on that mode on it.

07-09-2009, 10:35 PM
At 5'3 and 194 lbs, I was 38 % BF.

Haven't been tested since that time.

07-09-2009, 11:15 PM
Thank you bumble--that seems about right for that weight. My scale read 37 BF% at 196. But at 179.8--I think it should be changed!

Sooo..I figured out what it was...

I was dehydrated. I didn't realize being dehydrated REALLY would interfere with the bioimpedence.

I drank a glass of water...and 30 minutes later decided to try again. bingo!

It read 34.5% I am no longer upset with my scale. I read up on them and it says dehydration will cause innacurate results. It wasn't so much inaccuracy as it was NO CHANGE at all? From 196-179????

Now that I know the trick. I will continue to use my scale to check my progress ( i dehydrate really easily-no I'm not a diabetic)