An InBody scan is a non-invasive procedure through which an individual can get detailed information about their overall body composition.
InBody scans are performed on a specialized device which uses Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) to measure different parameters like body fat percentage, muscle mass, water distribution, and so on.
Such a procedure has proven to be exceptionally useful for fitness enthusiasts and athletes because of its accessibility, ease of use, and affordability.
However, many people continue to doubt the accuracy of these InBody scans. So, before you spend your precious time and money on getting one of these tests done, we’ll help you figure out if they are worth it in terms of precision.
Is InBody Accurate?
Yes, InBody scanners provide fairly accurate results when they are used correctly. However, many factors, such as the body temperature, menstrual status, and recent activity of the individual, can influence the accuracy of the scans.
But if all of these factors are controlled, the readings are mostly precise, with minor inconsistencies on some occasions.
The high level of InBody scale accuracy is attributed to the use of the advanced Direct Segmental Measurement Multi-Frequency Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (DSM-MFBIA) technology.
This is in stark contrast to the traditional and less reliable BIA technologies that only measure body compositions using a single frequency, leading to inaccurate results.
InBody scans also take into account the distinctions in the body type of each person to provide more accurate results tailored to the requirements and anatomies of different individuals.
So, it’s fair to say that InBody scans are relatively more accurate compared to tests that use conventional BIA techniques. However, despite their high precision rates, these scans should not be considered perfectly accurate as there are many factors that can influence the results easily.
How Accurate is InBody Scan?
To test the accuracy of InBody scans, a study was conducted with 110 recreationally active participants. Their body fat percentages were measured using both techniques – DEXA as well as multi-frequency bioelectrical impedance (InBody 570 scan).
The test showed a strong correlation between the two methods, indicating a correlation coefficient of 0.94, suggesting a high degree of association.
However, there were some differences in the actual measurements obtained from both methods. DEXA scans calculated the average body fat percentage to be 25.61% (±10.56%) while InBody scans recorded 20.99% (±9.34%).
So, on average, InBody scans tend to underestimate body fat percentage compared to DEXA scans by around 4.62%.
Another research corroborated these findings. In this study, 31 males and 36 females were tested for their body composition using DXA scans as well as InBody scans (InBody230, InBody720, and InBody770).
The results showed high interclass correlation coefficients for body fat percentage (≥0.98), fat mass (≥0.98), and fat-free mass (≥0.99). It also showed a low standard error of measurement for body fat percentage (0.77%-0.99%), fat mass (0.54-0.87 kg), and fat-free mass (0.58-0.84 kg), and minimum difference for body fat percentage (2.12%-2.73%), fat mass (1.49-2.39 kg), and fat-free mass (1.60-2.32 kg).
Despite the proportional bias, there was a small amount of individual error, indicated by the standard error of estimate and 95% limits of agreement.
But despite the relatively higher accuracy of InBody compared to similar tests, experts still recommend that these analyzers should only be used as surrogates when more comprehensive and accurate tests are not available or accessible.
Moreover, InBody scans are also prone to being influenced by many minor factors. For example, a slight change in the body temperature of the individual can yield significantly different results in a person’s body fat percentage.
It was also shown that when skin temperature rises, there is a gradual decrease in the body fat percentage, according to the test. Similarly, lower body temperatures result in an increase in impedance, which is represented on an InBody scan as lower fat-free mass.
As such, minimal inconsistencies should be expected when you are interpreting the results from a recent scan.
Can an InBody Scan Be Wrong?
Yes, InBody scans can be wrong if the test-taker does not follow the guidelines and instructions before using the scanner.
Even if you follow all the precautions carefully, there is still a chance there might be some minor inconsistencies in the results.
But generally, if you take all the steps correctly, you should be able to get a pretty fair representation of your body composition.
As such, it’s important to know that body composition analysis methods are not completely accurate. While InBody scans might be more precise than other tests, they cannot be completely reliable and should only be used as tools to guide and monitor changes instead of being labelled a definitive measurement of body composition.
How Do I Get the Most Accurate InBody Results?
We have mentioned that test-takers can improve the efficacy of the scan results by following some guidelines and instructions.
That’s because there are many factors that can reduce the accuracy of the results. To keep these factors in check, here’s what you can do:
- Do not eat any food or consume any caffeine 2-4 hours before the test. Ideally, you would want to use the InBody scan while in a fasting state.
- Do not work out or perform any high-intensity exercises within 4 hours of taking the test. Ideally, you should not hit the gym or engage in workouts within 24 hours of taking the test.
- Avoid substantial intakes of any fluid (including water) before the scan.
- Do not dehydrate yourself while avoiding large doses of fluids. Make sure that you are normally hydrated.
- Make sure that you repeat the test each time under similar conditions – same time of the day, similar eating/sleeping habits, and identical overall fitness.
By following these instructions, you can improve the overall reliability and accuracy of the InBody scans.
What Factors Can Affect the Accuracy of InBody Scans?
There are many factors which can negatively influence the accuracy of InBody scans. Some of the major ones are listed below:
- Body Temperature: Body temperatures can influence impedance, which can alter the results of the scan by showing higher or lower body fat percentages.
- Showering or Bathing: Showering results in increased blood flow and decreased impedance, resulting in inaccurate body fat percentage readings.
- Eating: Eating before the scan can decrease your impedance because of the ingestion and digestion processes, leading to altered results.
- Menstrual Cycles: InBody scan accuracy is greatly influenced when women are on their periods. This is because of the changes in body weight during the luteal phase and the increase in progesterone, resulting in lower body fat percentage readings compared to the true value.
- Hydration Status: Dehydration or excessive intake of different fluids may impact and influence the measurements and results of the scan.
- Individual Factors: Many other external factors, like the time of the day, specific physiological characteristics, and the overall well-being of the individual can affect the accuracy of the scan.
Is it Okay to Drink Water Before InBody Scan?
It is not recommended that you drink water right before taking the scan. However, it’s perfectly fine to drink water 1-2 hours before the test as long as you are normally hydrated and don’t drink excessively.
Apart from that, there is a strict restriction when it comes to consuming any fluid in excessive quantities (even water) for a duration of 2 to 4 hours before taking the test.
That’s because your dietary and drinking patterns can greatly influence the accuracy of the scans.
Is InBody Accurate After Workouts?
No, InBody scans provide inaccurate results when they are taken immediately after performing workouts or high-intensity exercises.
This is because the physiological state of the individual influences impedance, leading to decreased or increased body fat percentage readings.
Moreover, when you perform intense exercises, your body temperature will likely go up, which can also affect the accuracy of the InBody scans.
As such, it’s recommended that you do not perform any exerting activity for a period of 24 hours before taking the test.
InBody scans are pretty accurate, as long as the test-taker follows all the designated precautions, guidelines, and instructions.
However, they cannot be considered 100% accurate. That’s because a lot of uncontrollable factors can also influence the readings, which might lead to some minor inconsistencies.
That being said, taking an InBody scan is advisable if you simply want to use it as a tool to monitor changes in your body composition over time and make necessary adjustments accordingly.
Beyond that, it should not be considered as the Gospel for showing 100% accurate results every time.