Some people dread stepping on a scale and seeing their weight number pop up, especially when they’re trying to lose weight. It may feel like you’re stepping on the scale every minute hoping the number will change.
However, studies show the number of times you step on a scale may have an effect on if you lose or gain weight.
Do frequent weight checks help or hurt?
The National Weight Control Registry conducted a study about the relationship between losing and maintaining weight and the number of times people step on the scale. It studied characteristics of self-weighing and how much weight people could keep off.
“In this study, about 3,000 participants lost more than 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year,” said Paula McIntyre, a Marshfield Clinic registered dietitian. “Of those people, 36 percent of them weighed themselves once a day. Weighing more frequently also resulted in lower body mass index.”
People who decreased the amount of times they weighed themselves saw weight gain.
The study also collected general data and found 75 percent of people weigh themselves at least once a week.
“The recommendation is to weigh often and daily because if there is a gain, you are able to know and address it immediately,” McIntyre said. “Those who do not step on the scale as much may want to because as hard as it is to face, you risk continued weight gain when you don’t.”
Factors to consider
Your weight can differ from day to day. Even your last visit to the restroom can affect whether your weight is up or down.
McIntyre says you should be consistent when it comes to weighing yourself.
“You should weigh yourself at a consistent time in a consistent manner,” she said. “Weigh yourself at the same time of day, and that’s a personal preference.”
No research shows that people should weigh themselves at a particular time of the day, but if you weigh yourself before or after you eat or work out there will be a difference. If you weigh yourself later in the day than when you get up in morning, there will be a difference. Again, it’s based on personal preference.
The clothes you wear also can contribute to the number on the scale. To have less variation, weigh yourself in the same clothes, with or without shoes, or weigh yourself when you’re nude.
The type of scale you use also may cause a variance.
McIntyre says you may get a more detailed weight if the scale you use is digital rather than a needle or balance scale. Either way, the scale should be on a flat surface and you should stand still while weighing yourself.
Before starting a weight loss program, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian about a plan that is right for you.