How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?

posted: 08/20/15
by: Mara Betsch
woman on scale

To weigh yourself or not to weigh yourself, that's the question. And up until recently, there wasn't a great answer as to how often you should step on the scale. Popular diets like Weight Watchers encourage weekly weigh-ins, while others suggest weighing yourself every day, and some even suggest you shouldn't weigh yourself at all. So who's right?

According to a two-year study from Cornell University, you should weigh yourself every. single. day. The research, which was published in the Journal of Obesity, placed its 162 subjects in two groups, one was a control group and the other was an intervention group. In their initial session, both groups received general weight loss information. The only difference was that the intervention group was given a scale and taught the Caloric Titration Method (CTM), a weight loss method that involves daily weigh-ins and entering daily weight into a tracking system. The group was then told to use CTM as well as other weight-loss techniques to aim to ultimately lose 10 percent of body weight over the course of a year.

After a year, nearly 29 percent of intervention group members had lost more than 5 percent of their body weight while only 10.8 percent of the control group met that goal. And after two years, the intervention group had regained less weight than the control group. Upon further analysis, it seems that daily weigh-ins may play a role in weight loss and an even bigger role in preventing putting the weight back on.

Though this study is fascinating and has some solid take-aways, you should really think about your goals before stepping on the scale. If you're trying to lose weight, having a good sense of your progress can both motivate you and prevent you from crash dieting. That could mean once a day, one every other day, or once a week. But if at any point you notice that you become obsessive about weighing yourself or a weigh-in drastically changes your mood, it may be time to scale back on the scale. If you're trying to maintain weight loss, experts say that weighing yourself once or twice a week should be sufficient. The bottom line is that only you can decide how many times you weigh yourself each week.

When you do weigh yourself, though, try following these expert-approved tips:

  1. Weigh yourself as soon as you wake up. This is when your weight is most consistent.
  2. Don't weigh yourself on other scales. Each scale is calibrated differently and may provide a different result.
  3. Take a break on vacation. Vacations are meant to allow you to recharge and relax, and if you're staying active, even a few rich meals won't do too much permanent damage. Just be sure to get back on the bandwagon when you return.
  4. Weigh yourself on Wednesday. If you're only weighing yourself once a week, midweek is the time to do it, when you've counteracted any weekend indulgences and haven't geared up for the following weekend.
  5. Have a target weight range, not a number. Depending on what you eat, the time of day and your hormones, your weight could fluctuate around five pounds. Instead, aim for a target weight range that's about 2 percent of your total weight.