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How Often Should We Weigh Ourselves?

Few health topics spark as much debate as the value of the bathroom scale. Some experts advocate daily self-weigh-ins for accountability in weight management, especially when following a diet and exercise program to lose weight.

Others suggest avoiding self-weigh-ins, arguing they can trigger negative psychological responses and unhealthy behaviors if we dislike or misunderstand the number on the scale.

Many, like me, recommend weighing yourself weekly, even if you're not trying to lose weight. Here's why.

Weighing weekly helps manage weight
Research confirms regular self-weighing is effective for weight loss and management, increasing awareness of our current weight and changes. A systematic review of 12 studies found participants who weighed themselves weekly or daily over several months lost 1–3 BMI (body mass index) units more and regained less weight than those who didn't weigh themselves frequently. Weekly weighing provided the weight-loss benefit; daily weighing offered no added advantage.

weigh in

Self-weigh-ins are essential for weight management as we age. Adults tend to gain weight progressively through middle age, typically between 0.5–1kg per year, which can lead to obesity over time. Weekly weighing and tracking results help avoid unnecessary weight gain.

Tracking weight can also help identify medical issues early. Dramatic changes in weight can signal conditions like thyroid problems, digestive issues, and diabetes.

Weekly weighing accounts for normal fluctuations
Body weight can fluctuate within a day and across the week. Studies show body weight fluctuates by 0.35% within the week, typically higher after the weekend. Daily weight fluctuations often relate to the body's water content.



Common causes include:

Type of food consumed: High-carb dinners can increase weight the next day due to temporary water retention. Foods high in salt also cause water retention as the body balances sodium and water levels.

Food intake: Everything we eat and drink has weight, temporarily increasing body weight during digestion and metabolism. Weight tends to be lower in the morning after overnight food intake restriction and higher in the evening after daily consumption.

Exercise: Post-workout weigh-ins may show less weight due to sweat-induced fluid loss, varying by workout intensity, duration, temperature, humidity, sweat rate, and hydration. On average, 1 liter of sweat is lost per hour of moderate-intensity exercise.

Hormonal changes: Menstrual cycle fluctuations can cause fluid retention and temporary weight gain of 0.5–2kg, particularly during the luteal phase when fluid shifts from blood plasma to cells, causing bloating.

Bowel movements: Eliminating waste leads to small immediate weight loss, typically around 100 grams daily.

These fluctuations are normal and don't indicate significant changes in body fat or muscle mass. However, they can cause unnecessary stress and fixation on weight.

Weekly weighing avoids scale obsession and weight-loss sabotage. Weighing too frequently can create an unhealthy obsession with the number on the scale, potentially doing more harm than good.


When the number doesn't move as expected, we might react by further restricting food intake or resorting to fad diets. These diets are often unsustainable and can lead to weight gain over time rather than loss.

A long-term study of over 4,000 twins found that those who dieted to lose 5kg or more were more likely to become overweight by age 25. This suggests that frequent dieting increases susceptibility to weight gain and future weight challenges.

So what should you do?
Weighing yourself weekly provides a more accurate measure of weight trends over time. Aim to weigh yourself on the same day, at the same time, and in the same environment each week—such as first thing every Friday morning, after using the bathroom and before eating or drinking anything.

Use the best quality scales you can afford, change the batteries regularly, and check their accuracy with a known weight, like a 10kg weight plate. Ensure the scale reading matches the known weight.

Remember, the number on the scale is just one aspect of health and weight management. Focusing solely on it can overshadow other important indicators, such as how your clothes fit. It's also crucial to pay attention to how you feel physically and emotionally.

Stop weighing yourself if it causes anxiety or stress, and consult a health-care professional to discuss your concerns.

In conclusion, weighing yourself weekly can help manage weight effectively without the psychological drawbacks of daily weigh-ins. This balanced approach can support long-term health and well-being.

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