Research shows regular weigh-ins are a strategy followed by most dieters who have successfully lost and maintained weight. Get tips and facts here.
To weigh or not to weigh, that is the question. Some experts advise throwing out the scale and measuring progress by how your clothes fit.
But research shows that monitoring your weight on a regular basis is positively linked with both losing weight and maintaining weight loss. But that raises another question. If you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, how often should you weigh yourself? Daily? Once a week? Once a month?
Studies indicate that weighing at least once a week is linked to greater weight loss than weighing less frequently. But daily weight measurements appear to have the greatest weight-loss advantage.
For maintaining weight loss, weighing daily may be especially helpful. Data from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), a database of people who have lost at least 30 pounds and have been successful at keeping it off, show that:
- More than 44 percent of the people report weighing themselves at least once a day.
- 31 percent report weighing themselves at least once a week.
Checking weight frequently is thought to help you identify small weight changes quickly so that you can take corrective actions early.
The downside of daily weigh-ins
There is a downside to weighing yourself daily. Watching the scale drift upward from one morning to the next, even after a day of healthy eating, can be discouraging. This can cause some dieters to give up. As a result, some experts say that weighing in once a week is a more accurate (and wiser) reflection of your progress.
The fact is, your weight does change from day to day. This is mostly due to the amount of water in your system, which can vary by the hour. If you eat a big salad and drink a large glass of water, that will show up as a weight gain on the scale. Many women also notice weight changes related to their monthly cycle. This, too, is due to water weight, not fat.
But if weight fluctuations don’t drive you crazy or make you sabotage your efforts, daily weighing is a good option.
Tips for losing weight and maintaining weight loss
Whatever frequency you choose, keep these tips in mind when you step on the scale:
- Wake up and weigh. Always try to weigh yourself first thing in the morning. During the day, your weight will rise because of the food and fluids you take in. Your morning weight will be your “truest” weight.
- Mind the watershed. Weight usually drops the most in the first week or two of trying to lose weight. This is mainly due to water loss. Don’t be discouraged when weight loss slows down after that. It’s almost impossible to lose more than 2 pounds of pure body fat in one week.
- Track it. Keep a log of your weekly weight. Shoot for a weight loss of no more than 1 to 2 pounds a week – or 4 to 8 pounds in one month. The more slowly you lose weight, the more likely it is to stay off. Also, when losing slowly, you’re more likely to lose fat, not water or muscle.
- Don’t panic with plateaus. It’s normal to hit a plateau after a few weeks as your body adjusts to a new weight. If you do strength training, your weight may stay the same for a while, even though you’re still decreasing your body fat content and getting healthier.
- Set goals. After you reach your weight goal, continue to monitor it. When your weight creeps up by 2 or 3 pounds, it’s like a yellow traffic signal. Stay calm! This is just a signal for you to watch your diet and physical activity more closely.
Finally, remember that success is measured by more than just the scale. Don’t become addicted to weighing in. Make sure you base your concept of success on more than numbers.Are you sleeping better? Are your clothes getting looser? Do you feel healthier? Are you less winded? These are just as important as your physical weight, in terms of long-term health and quality of life.