Do you know how often one should weigh themselves when on a diet? The truth is that there are many ways to check if it’s effective: our clothes fit looser or more comfortably, we feel more agile, our face looks slimmer… However, nothing beats a scale for tracking our progress.
What experts like Jo Travers say about it?
Answering this question isn’t straightforward: some experts recommend weighing yourself once a week, while others suggest throwing the scale away to eliminate the pressure felt by those on a diet.
Jo Travers, a registered dietician, says:
You need to know you are interpreting the data correctly. If you’re using body composition scales, you drink a pint of water and you measure your body composition, your body fat percentage will go down because your water percentage has gone up.
So you need to understand how these percentages work because, in that instance, it doesn’t mean you’ve got less fat.
Scales are not useful for people who get disheartened easily. At the other end of the spectrum is the personality type where numbers become an obsession.Jo Travers
Additionally, some believe that weighing oneself daily can be motivating. In fact, a study from Brown Medical School (Providence, USA) involving individuals on a weight-loss plan concluded that those who lost the most weight were those who weighed themselves every day.
Weighing yourself once a week can motivate us to stick to the diet.
Weighing more or less frequently during the week doesn’t seem to have a direct impact on weight loss. However, it can positively or negatively affect our emotional state and motivation level when sticking to the diet.
Nevertheless, the main issue with frequent weigh-ins is that, besides not being a reliable reflection of our progress, it can cause stress and obsession.
Our weight varies throughout the day
For starters, our weight fluctuates throughout the day. These changes have more to do with fluid retention than calorie intake and fat loss.
Seeing our weight decrease one day, then gain a bit the next, and lose again afterward, can be confusing and undermine our motivation.
The danger of weighing multiple times a day
Moreover, an obsession with the scale can harm our physical and mental health. Some people are so addicted that they weigh themselves every time they eat or drink to see its impact on their weight.
This obsession is dangerous as it might push us to take drastic measures to avoid weight fluctuations, such as extreme dieting, undereating, skipping meals, or in extreme cases, developing eating disorders like bulimia.
How often should you weigh yourself? ONCE A WEEK
Weighing every three days or once a week is sufficient to monitor the progress of a weight-loss diet. However, choosing which day of the week poses its challenges.
Which day of the week should you weigh yourself?
Throughout the week, we undergo a cyclical process: from Monday to Friday, our lives are more structured, with better-planned activities, making it easier to follow the diet. Hence, starting from Monday, we experience weight loss, which tends to pause over the weekend when unplanned leisure activities occur, and we may deviate from the diet. This is when we regain some of the weight lost during the week.
The cycle repeats at the beginning of a new week: on Monday, we shed the weight gained over the weekend and continue to lose until the next weekend, when there’s another upward fluctuation.
Therefore, Monday is the worst day to weigh oneself since it reflects the weekend’s weight gain. Weighing on Friday isn’t ideal either because it’s when the most weight loss is recorded, even if we’re aware the weekend might reverse it. Perhaps the most sensible choice is a middle day, like Wednesday.
TIPS BEFORE WEIGHING YOURSELF
When you weigh yourself, consider the following recommendations:
- Weigh in the morning, on the same day of the week, at the same time, on an empty stomach, and with an empty bladder.
- Step on the scale naked or always in the same clothing.
- Don’t weigh yourself post-exercise as the scale will show a misleading weight. Exercise causes fluid loss, but it’s quickly regained, so the scale won’t reflect a realistic weight.
- If you’re a woman, it’s also not advisable to weigh before or during menstruation due to fluid retention.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Amy Wilson. Dr. Amy Wilson, born in the United States, obtained her medical degree from Lincoln University School of Medicine. Specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, she’s dedicated 15 years to women’s health, becoming a distinguished gynecologist and serving in various U.S. medical institutions.