So you’re doing everything you can to lose weight. You’re eating clean, training hard and avoiding the peer pressure nights out and take aways. You’ve had a good week and jump on the scales…….
You haven’t lost any weight.
The disappointment and frustration you feel for a few hours after this will likely make you contemplate throwing in the towel and eating your body weight in pizza and chocolate or it might make you drastically restrict your calories in an effort to force weight loss to occur.
These are all completely normal feelings but before you ‘hit the hut’ have a think about this…
Daily and even hourly weight fluctuations are common and completely normal because your weight is determined by many different factors; how hydrated you are, what you recently ate, how frequently you visit the toilet, the climate and your workout routine. A few pounds of scale weight fluctuation here or there are usually not a result of fat gain but due to your body doing exactly what it needs to do to regulate homeostasis.
So how often should you weigh yourself?
Whether your goal is maintenance, fat loss or muscle gain, let’s talk about the scale.
My advice to you is to ask yourself the question, “Will weighing myself (daily, weekly, periodically, etc.) help me or harm my motivation?” There is no magic answer for how often to weigh yourself, figuring out what is helpful and motivating and keeping you on the right track is how to decide.
Weighing in daily can give you a great sense of accountability and is helpful for checking progress and ensuring you are on the right track. If you’re able to look at the overall trend and not stress about the fluctuations, then by all means, weigh yourself daily.
Simply jump on the scales, make a note of the weight and assess your results at a later date. Standing their stressing over a tiny increase may not be worth your time if by the end of the week you are 2lbs lighter.
Does a 0.3 pounds of weight gain put you in a bad mood? Or, are you absolutely delighted to see that you’re down 1 pound? If the daily weigh-ins powerfully affect your mood and behaviour, then you might want to reconsider how often you weigh yourself. The number on the scale should not have the power to dictate your mood, it’s just a number. It’s the bigger picture and how you look and feel that counts.
Weighing weekly has its advantages. With the knowledge that weight loss of around 2lbs per week is ideal (muscle gain will vary from person to person but should be consistent) it allows you to track progress while still having six days to not focus on your weight.
- If you see a positive weekly trend then you know you’re on the right track.
- If it’s a negative weekly trend and not moving the way you want it to you will know if you need to eat more or less. Or exercise more or less.
- If it’s all over the place, up and down every week you may need to try to establish some form of consistency with you eating and exercise
- If it goes up one week but down another then down again the trend is overall fat loss so don’t stress over the smaller details.
For consistent results, pick the same day each week, and weigh yourself in the morning after you’ve been to the toilet. Remember to look for trends. It’s important to realise that it will take a few weigh-ins to get a picture of where the trend is heading. This can be a brilliant tool to help you adjust your diet or training without making you ride the emotional roller coaster of daily weigh-ins
Some people opt for the occasional random weight check and usually do this on the gym scales. Individuals who opt for this occasional weigh-in may not have very clearly defined goals or nothing to actually compare their weight against, (like a previous weigh in), or often have other ways of identifying weight changes, like the way they fit in their clothes or how they look in the mirror.
There are quite a few people who don’t own a set of bathroom scales. Some people find it more beneficial to focus on how they feel in their clothes or how they perform in the gym rather than focusing on the numbers. This can be a valid way to approach health and weighing yourself isn’t always essential if you are seeing big changes in the mirror. After all there is much more to health and fitness than a number on the scale.
Don’t be obsessive
The frequency of which you should weigh yourself also comes down to your personality type. If you are weighing yourself a few times per day, STOP RIGHT NOW! Obsessing over a number on the scale can make you miserable, demotivated and lead to disorganised eating patterns or even eating disorders.
Weighing yourself should simply be recognised as a tool to help you achieve your goals and is not the be all and end all of getting into great shape.
Most importantly ask yourself which method is going to benefit you the most. For some, daily weigh-ins are great for accountability and to stop you being naughty with your food choices. For others, weighing less often is better for making a few tweaks to your diet.
The real numbers
As I’ve already said, because your weight fluctuates, scale weight isn’t the best indicator of what’s going on with your body fat loss or muscle gain regime. If you have specific goals and need to make specific tweaks to your training or diet you should use a combination of measuring methods.
The best indicator of changes is body fat percentage but I would still use a range of measuring methods which work best for you, your goals and your current condition, (measuring tape, progress photos, body fat percentage and scale weight).
Using a combination of methods will give you a more specific look at what’s going on with your results. For example if your waist measurement has gone up but your body fat percentage has gone down you may be suffering from slight dehydration or bloating.
Each of us has different ways of becoming motivated and being positive about our goals. Find what works for you and keep it consistent.