Looking to weigh the pros and cons of stepping on that scale? We researched what top experts in the country have to say about how often you should weigh yourself for optimal weight-loss.
Benefits of frequent weighing
Science regards self-monitoring behaviors as critical for weight loss achievement. Tracking trends in your weight over time can keep you motivated and accountable. Research shows that frequent self-weighing is related to both greater weight loss and better long-term weight maintenance. The American Heart Association tracked 1,042 adults over a year, and found that people who weighed themselves once a week or less did not lose weight. Meanwhile, people who weighed themselves six-seven times a week averaged a 1.7 percent weight loss. But how much is too much?
The case against daily weighing
When it comes to weighing in on a daily basis, the average fluctuation you can expect to see on your scale is about 5 pounds. A multitude of factors can affect this range, including fluid shifts, hormones, and constipation.
Unfortunately, scales can’t differentiate the weight of bone, fluid, muscle and fat. Therefore, if you weigh in everyday you’ll see numbers changing that are the result of these tiny shifts, and not really body fat lost. Watching these numbers change day after day can be discouraging. They may lead you to avoid the scale completely, or give up and go on an emotional eating binge. More problematically, it may lead to compulsive and unhealthy behaviors. Examples include skipping meals entirely, or inducing drastic calorie deficits in an attempt to get immediate results on the scale.
It’s all a balancing act
Above all, experts stress that there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to how often you should weigh yourself. It is important to take an individualized approach. Decide what frequency will provide you with the accountability you need, while not discouraging you or tempting you to engage in unhealthy behaviors. A happy medium appears to be 1-2 times per week. Harvard Medical School explains that during the course of a week small fluid shifts will balance out, allowing you to have a more accurate picture of weight loss. Dr. Heinberg at the Cleveland Clinic agrees that twice a week is appropriate. She suggests that you try to step on the scale at the same time (e.g. mornings), wearing the same amount of clothing each time.
The key is to keep yourself on track and use the numbers on the scale to reinforce your goals without being obsessive. And if you’re looking for extra motivation to move the needle, check out the HealthyWager. It’s an individual weight loss challenge customized to you! You pick your weight loss goal, the timeframe you want to lose it in, and prize (up to $10,000)! Ready to get started? Enter your information in the HealthyWage Prize Calculator to find out how much you can win!