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What to Know About Weighing Yourself

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on May 01, 2021

If you’ve decided that you want to lose some weight, weighing yourself regularly may help you check your progress. Find out what you need to know when it comes to regular weigh-ins, including when and how often.

How Often to Weigh In

Studies show that within two years of weight loss, people generally gain two-thirds of the weight back that they worked hard to lose.  But if you weigh yourself regularly, research suggests, you'll be more successful in losing weight and keeping it off in the long run. You'll not only track your progress if you’re losing weight but also take steps to not gain it back if you don't want it. 

Weekly weigh-ins. This is where the benefits of regular weigh-ins kick in. If you weigh yourself at least once a week, you may have more success with weight loss than those who check in with the scale less frequently.

By weighing yourself once a week, you can take note of not only the number on the scale but also the changes in your body fat. You’ll begin to see differences in how your clothes fit as you count up the number of pounds lost.

Daily weigh-ins. If you’re really committed to losing weight, weighing yourself every day can be helpful. Research shows that people who weigh themselves every day have even more success with weight loss than those who weigh in once a week.

One of the biggest benefits of daily weigh-ins may be that you can make small changes throughout the day to help you stay on track. You can catch little ups and downs in weight faster and decide how you want to deal with them. For example, you can choose to exercise more or refocus your diet and eating habits.

Another benefit is that you may feel more driven to stay on track when you see small losses throughout the week. A study from April 2015 followed 47 obese men and women who used the same diet and eating plan over six months. Those who tracked their weight daily lost an average of 13 pounds more than those who didn’t track frequently.

The Best Time to Weigh Yourself

The thing that’s most important when it comes to weighing yourself, either weekly or daily, is at what time. Most researchers agree that it's best to weigh yourself first thing in the morning. That way, you're more likely to make it a habit and be consistent with it.

Weighing yourself in the morning helps especially with age-related gains, which can be more difficult to control. But if you notice the number on the scale creeping up throughout the week, you can choose healthier habits to fight back.

Chances are that your stomach is relatively empty first thing in the morning. So weighing yourself allows you to accept that there will be ups and downs in your weight over the course of your day. Those changes come with normal eating and drinking.

To get the most accurate readings on the scale, follow these tips:

  • Weigh yourself at the same time of day to get an accurate comparison.
  • Use the bathroom before weighing yourself.
  • Wear as little clothing as possible when you weigh yourself, and try to wear the same or similar clothing each time you weigh in.
  • Put your scale on a hard, flat surface, as a scale on an uneven surface won’t read correctly.
  • Stand still, barefoot, on the scale with your weight evenly distributed on both feet.

If you’re weighing yourself weekly, also remember to do it on the same day every week. Research suggests that the best day for weekly weigh-ins is Wednesday. You perhaps had weekend splurges, like eating out or drinking alcohol, and may have started eating healthy again in the run-up to hump day.

The Cons of Weighing Yourself Daily

While regular weigh-ins can help you stay on track on your weight loss journey, it’s important to not get too obsessed with the scale. Some people may get unhappy or upset when they don’t see the numbers on the scale moving the way that they want.

Weighing yourself too often and worrying about gains or losses can lead to unhealthy habits, such as disordered eating and skipping meals, just to see the scale move. You may even find yourself giving up, to the point that you stop tracking your progress entirely.

It’s normal to plateau during weight loss, so if you don’t see the scale moving as quickly as you would like, focus on other things. Perhaps your clothes fit better, or you’ve built up more muscle mass or endurance. You could also try measuring inches instead of pounds to see how your body is changing for the better.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Heart Association: “The pros and cons of weighing yourself every day.”

Cleveland Clinic: “When Is the Best Time to Weigh Yourself?”

Consumer Reports: “The Best Time to Weigh Yourself.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Should You Weigh Yourself Every Day?”

UVAHealth: “Should You Weigh Yourself Every Day?”

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