Whenever we’re on a new diet or a new exercise routine, there is a certain allure to weighing ourselves every now and then. Weighing ourselves can show us in a measurable way how well we are doing and if we are reaching our goal weights. But is weighing ourselves every day good or bad for us? Well, the answer isn’t as easy.
If you’re trying to lose weight, weighing yourself every day can help as you get to see your progress and allows you to reinforce the actions that you’re making. But the same can be difficult if you’re trying to maintain your current weight. A small variance in your weight might not mean much in the long run. (1)
When you’re weight-watching, the most important issue is to not be tied down and obsessed with whatever number appears on the scale. Health and wellness is not entirely measured by weight, there are other considerations to be made.
As always when it comes to health, it is always best to contact a medical professional you can trust to guide your weight loss journey.
If you’re able to see your weight as an indication of your overall health instead of a final judgment towards your personal habits, then weighing yourself regularly can easily help you measure weight loss, or if you gain weight, and of course, weight maintenance. By doing this you would be able to detect health issues that deal with sudden weight gain or loss, like thyroid problems. (2) (3)
Factors that Affect Weight
Before we get into the nitty gritty of regular weigh-ins, it’s important to understand the many factors that have been shown to affect our weight. Contrary to popular belief, there are a multitude of factors that can affect one’s weight that are not related to body fat. Weight fluctuations
- Underlying health conditions
- Binge Eating
- Diet (High Carb)
- Diet (High Salt)
- Recent meals
- Caffeine Consumption
- Alcohol Consumption
- Water weight gain
- Bowel Movements
It is recommended to weigh yourself first thing in the morning given that a multitude of factors can happen within the day that can affect your weight. It is common knowledge that your weight changes and shifts throughout your day. It can be affected by recent meals, how much you’ve hydrated and many other things. So it would be good not to get attached to a single numerical goal, but rather, maintain good, healthy habits which push you toward weight loss and/or good health.
It’s recommended you have a general idea of what your current weight is and its relation to your goal weight, one can do this by taking note of your weight on a consistent basis with either, daily, weekly, or monthly weigh-in.
If you’re trying to lose weight, it might be best to weigh yourself regularly and daily.
A 12-month and 6-month study found that adults that made a habit of weighing themselves daily had a better success rate in losing weight compared to those who did not. It seems that having a habit of weighing every day has led to greater adoption of weight control behaviors. (4) (5)
Weighing yourself once a week does have its own uses. It’s recommended that this method of weighing once a week is most helpful when one is transitioning towards a weight maintenance phase after the initial weight loss goal has been achieved. According to research, this is when one is at most risk to regain the weight they had just lost.
If you’re at a weight loss regiment or a weight gain regiment, it might not be best to weigh yourself once a month. Adopting a monthly weigh-in makes it difficult to make timely adjustments to your regiment. Still, it’s better than nothing.
Believe it or not, there is an argument to be made to not measure weight at all. This is due to the fact that muscle mass weighs more than body fat. Thus you can be mistaken to feel like you aren’t making any progress when you see that your body weight is not changing as you expected.
Other measurements you can rely on instead of your weight are body tape measurements and body fat percentage. On a more quantitative method, weight loss efforts can also be achieved by how well your clothes fit better and your energy and fitness levels.
There are medical reasons, such as eating disorders, as to not weigh yourself often especially if you’re not actively trying to lose weight. Weighing yourself too often can effectively affect your mental health.
Some mental conditions and eating disorders that can be negatively affected by consistent and constant weighing of yourself are as follows, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorders, anxiety, and depression.
How to Properly Conduct Weigh-Ins
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.
You’re weighing yourself once a week. You’re seeing the number on the scale go down. But if you really want to squeeze the most benefit out of your relationship with your scale, you need to track your progress.
Tracking your weight loss whether by keeping a spreadsheet of your weekly weigh-ins or using a weight loss app, tracking your weight will help you get a better overall picture of what’s happening with your body.
It’ll help you identify patterns, make sure things are moving in the right direction, and can also motivate you to keep going when you feel like abandoning your diet and weight loss goals.
Why Do People Check Their Weights
There are a lot of reasons why people check their weight. It could derive from self-consciousness, a desire to be at a healthier weight, or to be able to wear certain size clothing. The reasons why people want to lose weight differ a lot from person to person, some may be trying to implement a lifestyle change. At any given moment, an estimated 24% of men and 38% of women in the US are trying to lose weight (6).
Even though obesity has skyrocketed and working-age adults are gaining about 2.2 pounds (1 kg) annually, on average (7) (8). People are comparing their physical appearance and suffering anxiety over it more and more. While this is going on, the explosion of social media stars online has created an easy avenue where people are exposed to social media stars who look fit and attractive. We are barraged with this kind of content on our phones and on our computers. It creates an easily accessible (whether we like it or not) point of comparison. It’s not like magazines where you can put a magazine down and not see the figure of a gorgeous model. People are inundated with visuals of sleek and sculpted bodies from people posting on social media and this has affected how we see ourselves. (9)
This has led to a lot of body dissatisfaction and body image issues in men and women, young or old all over the world. This constant conscious or subconscious comparison facilitated by technology has made us more anxious and stressed about how we look and how much we weigh. (10)
For a lot of people, losing weight has something to do with looking good, or feeling good about yourself.
Recent studies have shown that daily self-weighing may be a powerful tool for both losing and maintaining weight.
However, many people believe that weighing yourself daily contributes to bad mental health and disordered eating habits. We’ll be talking about how conducting regular weigh-ins have both positive and negative sides.
The Positive Sides of Conducting Regular Weigh-Ins
A 2016 study looked into the possible impact of daily self-weighing with regard to weight loss intervention. It found that participants who weighed themselves daily had a greater weight loss compared to ones who were not as consistent. The difference between the two groups was so drastic that the latter group not only was not as likely to adopt the necessary changes but also had less weight loss. Nonetheless, there is still some practical utility with regard to people who only weighed themselves 5 days per week. This frequency still allowed for changes and adjustments to the current dietary and exercise regimen.
This suggests that the daily practice of weighing could potentially trigger the self-regulatory processes that promote behavior. It helped participants keep themselves engaged with their diet regimens and thus allow them to achieve better results and greater weight loss.
Unfortunately, this study had a limited sample size and as well as the ability to monitor other measurements such as EBI score, caloric intake, and caloric expenditure.
It provides accountability. Evidence suggests that people who regularly weigh themselves are more likely to lose weight and keep it off than those who don’t. In one study, for example, researchers tracked 1,042 adults for a year and concluded that those who weighed themselves once a week or less did not lose weight, while those who got on the scale six or seven times a week averaged a 1.7 percent weight loss.
Making it a habit to weigh yourself makes you more conscious about how many calories your taking which can help
A study presented at the American Heart Association’s recent Scientific Sessions conference concluded that daily weigh-ins might be beneficial. Researchers tracked 1,042 adults over a year and found that people who weighed themselves once a week or less did not lose weight, while people who weighed themselves six or seven times a week averaged a 1.7 percent weight loss. (11)
One study showed that participants who weighed themselves daily for six months lost 13 more pounds (6 kg), on average than those who weighed themselves less frequently (12).
One study in participants aged 18–25 showed that daily self-weighing resulted in better weight loss than less-frequent weighing (13).
Furthermore, another study showed that people who weighed themselves every day ate 347 fewer calories per day than those who did not.
After six months, the group that weighed themselves daily ended up losing a whopping 10 times more weight than the control group (14).
Weighing yourself consistently promotes good health habits. Another study (15) found that daily weigh-ins led to “greater adoption of weight control behaviors,” such as reducing snacks between meals, cutting back on dessert portion sizes, exercising for 30 minutes or more, and increasing daily steps.
The Cons of Regular Weigh-Ins
But there can be drawbacks to spending too much time on that scale.
“You can get obsessive about it,” said Amy Walters, a psychologist and director of behavioral services at St. Luke’s Health System Humphreys Diabetes Center in Boise, Idaho. . “We want to focus on trends and not get hung up on today’s number. Weighing daily may be distressing if you don’t see the scale change, or have a negative impact on motivation.”
Despite our cultural obsessions with weight loss, having the ideal figure, and low body fat percentages, obesity has increased worldwide in the past 50 years, reaching pandemic levels. (16) In the same way, health and weight consciousness has taken a toll on people’s mental health. (17) So it bears repeating that we should not conflate weight with health.
Frequent weigh-ins could cause one to conflate health and weight. “We know that someone could weigh 200 pounds and be perfectly healthy, and someone could weigh that same amount and be struggling with diabetes, heart disease. The scale isn’t an accurate snapshot of holistic health, and it’s easy to misinterpret what it says.
“Keeping tabs on your progress is important to help achieve your weight loss goals,” said Peeke, who chairs the Science Advisory Board for the Jenny Craig weight loss centers. However, she added, “If daily weighing causes you more anxiety than motivation, then it’s not right for you.” (18)
Whether you weigh yourself regularly or swear off the scale comes down to knowing yourself. Some people feel empowered by the information it provides; others will spiral into anxiety. “It’s important to be really honest with yourself and think about what happens after you weigh yourself,” Doebrich said. “Is it just, you stepped on the scale, and it’s a number, and it’s fine? Or does it determine how you feel the rest of the day?”
Before anything else, it is important to have a healthy mindset and approach with regards to how you see weight. Your weight is not indicative of your value as a person. It is merely an indicator that can help you in your journey towards proper health and wellness. And even then, it’s not the only indicator that we have, there are others, such as body mass index and body fat percentages that are reliable indicators with regard to the status of our health. Being too overly conscious of your weight can be dangerous especially if you’re under mental issues or eating disorders.
To sum it up, constant and regular weigh-ins can assist in your weight loss efforts by allowing you to adjust accordingly and make timely changes in your diet and exercise regimens. But there are other factors to be considered when it comes to our relationship with weight.
It’s important to remember that while the scale is a helpful way to gauge your progress, it’s by no means the only way. Part of weighing yourself the right way is recognizing that the number on the scale doesn’t always tell the whole story.
- (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2006.00292.x )