It Starts with Knowing Your Numbers

What is a Tanita Scale

If you are visiting this page, you’ve already had your body composition analyzed by a Good Measure Meals Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) on the Tanita [SC-331s] bioelectrical impedance scale. Now that you have your numbers, it’s time to learn what they mean and how to use them to your advantage! You may have received a handout explaining some basic information on body fat, muscle mass and metabolic rate during your analysis. Below you will find a more thorough explanation of your results. For more support in understanding your numbers and using them to set and work towards health goals, contact our team of RDNs.


If you are interested in ordering meals, you can use the BMR estimate from your analysis to help you select the appropriate calorie level for your needs and goals. You can also call Customer Service at 404-815-7695 and share your BMR for assistance in choosing the right plan for your calorie needs. Cheers to you and your journey to optimal health!

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Understanding The Metrics

What is Fat %?

This is the percentage of your body weight that is made up of fat. Fat plays a number of vital roles in your body, including cushioning joints, protecting organs, regulating body temperature and storing vitamins. You need a certain amount of body fat for optimal health, but high levels are associated with increased risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, thyroid disorder, arthritis, sleep apnea, and more. The amount of body fat that is considered healthy depends on your age and gender, and can be found on your Tanita printout under “Desirable Range.” You can also look at the scale below to see how your body fat percentage compares to healthy standards for your age and gender:

What is Fat Mass?

Fat mass is another way to look at the amount of fat in your body, and how it compares to healthy standards. The goal is to have your levels fall within the optimal range for your age and gender, which can be found on your Tanita printout under “Desirable Range.”

What is FFM?

Fat free mass, or FFM, is the weight of everything in your body that is not fat. This includes muscle, water, bone, organs and connective tissue. As your FFM increases, your body fat percentage decreases. Since the majority of your FFM is muscle, strategies to build muscle mass such as resistance training, weight bearing exercise, and adequate nutrition, will help increase FFM.

What is Muscle Mass?

This is the number of pounds of muscle you have in your body. You can see how your muscle mass compares to healthy standards for your age and gender by viewing the indicator bar at the bottom of your Tanita printout. The “0” range indicates a healthy, average amount of muscle. The “+” range means you have a higher than typical amount of muscle and are in a position to burn calories efficiently. The “-“ range means you have less than average amount of muscle, and would benefit from increasing muscle mass. While muscle mass naturally declines with age, building and maintaining muscle offers a number of benefits, from reduced risk of falls and improved immunity, to a higher metabolic rate. Very low calorie diets, rapid weight loss and excessive exercise can lead to loss of muscle mass, and slowing of metabolism. Building muscle requires resistance/strength training and fueling your body with adequate calories and nutrients.

What is TBW?

Total body water, or TBW, is the amount of water you have in your body, in pounds, at the time of your test. Water plays a vital role in a majority of the body’s functions and can be found in every cell, tissue, and organ. We use TBW to determine hydration status.

What is TBW %?

TBW % is the percentage of your body weight that is comprised of water at the time of your test. It indicates your hydration status.

Staying well-hydrated is essential for overall health. The chart below shows optimal hydration levels for your gender. Keep in mind that your hydration status fluctuates throughout the day, so this number is not an absolute. Many factors including exercise, extreme temperatures and humidity, altitude, alcohol consumption, menstruation, and illness influence hydration levels.

What is Bone Mass?

Bone mass estimates the weight of the bones in your body. It is not a valid indicator of your bone health, since it does not measure bone density. For those at risk for low bone density (such as the elderly, perimenopausal and menopausal women, or those receiving hormone therapy) a bone mineral density test is recommended. Please consult with your physician to learn more. Note: while weight bearing exercise, resistance training and calcium intake are related to improved bone health, bone structure is unlikely to make noticeable changes in a short period of time.

What is BMR?

Basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the amount of energy (calories) that your body expends in a 24-hour period just to keep you alive. What we commonly refer to as “metabolism,” it is the number of calories that your body needs to survive and your organs (heart, lungs, etc.) need to function at complete rest.  It can be considered a safe minimum amount of calories to consume on a daily basis, even if weight loss is your goal. When you eat fewer calories than your BMR, your body perceives it as a threat, and over time, your metabolism will slow down in order to conserve your body fat stores. This can make it harder to meet and maintain a weight loss goal.  In order to thrive, do not consume fewer calories per day than your BMR on a regular basis.

BMR makes up the majority of the calories your body burns each day, but it does not take into account your daily activities or planned exercise. To calculate your total daily calorie needs, you must also account for calories burned through daily activities like getting up and going to work, as well as your planned exercise. If you are a typical office worker, who sits at a desk most of the day, you can estimate the amount of energy you expend through your daily activities by adding 15% to your BMR. The number of calories expended through exercise depends on many factors including exercise intensity, type, duration and your fitness level. If you have a very physically demanding job or a very active lifestyle, you will need to account for a higher daily caloric expenditure.

If weight loss is your goal, you need to create a small caloric deficit (consume less and/or burn more) in order to cue your body to use fat for fuel. A safe rate of weight loss for most people is ½ to 1 pound per week. Anything greater will likely break down muscle as well as fat and permanently decrease your metabolic rate. To lose one pound a week, you need to create a deficit of 500 calories per day, but remember: never consume below your BMR. 1200 calories per day is the minimum number of calories you can safely consume to get all the nutrients your body needs to function optimally, and regardless of your BMR, you should never eat less this amount.

Our team of RDNs can help you determine a healthy calorie intake for you weight management goals that takes into account your BMR, lifestyle and activity level.

What is Metabolic Age?

Metabolic age describes the relationship between your body fat, muscle mass and BMR compared to age/gender standards and relative to your actual age. When your body fat, muscle mass and BMR are within the expected ranges, your metabolic age will be equal to or below your actual age. If your numbers are higher than the recommended ranges, your metabolic age will be higher than your actual age.

What is a Visceral Fat Rating?

Visceral fat is body fat that is stored in your abdominal cavity. Carrying excess body fat in this region places you at greater risk for chronic diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. For optimal health, your visceral fat rating should stay under 13. If your visceral fat rating is 13 or above, you are at higher risk and should consult with a RDN help make lifestyle changes.

What is BMI?

Body mass index, or BMI, is a standard ratio of weight to height commonly used to assess weight-related health risks. BMI does not take into account body fat percentage or muscle mass thus it can be misleading if your muscle mass is higher than average. Regardless, BMI is an important number to know because your physician and medical insurance companies will use this value to determine your overall weight-related health risk.

What is the Desirable Range?

The information provided in the desirable range box gives ideal ranges for body fat percent and fat mass based on your age and gender. Fat percentages outside these ranges may indicate health risks.

What is Impedance?

Impedance reflects the body’s inherent resistance to an electrical current. Muscle contains water and acts as a conductor of the electrical current. Adipose tissue (fat) does not contain water and acts as a resistor. This value is not really relevant to you or your health, however, it describes how the scale is able to read your body composition.

Understanding The Indicators

What is an Indicator?

The bars at the bottom of your Tanita printout show how your body composition results compare to healthy standards for your age and gender.

Fat%/BMI Indicator

(-): Underfat – below the healthy body fat range, may be at risk for health problems

(0): Healthy – within the healthy body fat range for your age/gender

(+): Overfat – above the healthy body fat range, may be at risk for health problems

(++): Obese – high above the healthy body fat range and at increased risk of obesity-related health problems

Visceral Fat Indicator

Above 12 – health risk is increased

Muscle Mass Indicator

(-): Below average muscle mass – increase muscle mass with resistance training and proper nutrition

(0): Average muscle mass

(+): Above average muscle mass – in excellent position to burn calories efficiently

Want to Know More?

For more support in understanding your numbers and using them to set and work towards health goals, start with a free 10-minute nutrition consult by phone.

Or, reach out to our team directly at