Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to this question.
One report1 reviewed 12 studies of weight loss and maintenance and concluded that frequent weighing improves success. But how often is frequent? The optimal frequency may be a very individual thing.
One of the most well-known organisations associated with diet and weight is Weight Watchers, and their recommendation has always been a weekly weigh in.2
Why? Because our weight fluctuates daily (or even within the day). For example, your level of hydration can make a difference to the scales reading. Your bowel habits may also have an impact, along with what you’ve recently eaten.3,4
While some studies suggest daily or more frequent weigh-ins achieved the best results1, this may have been affected by the personality of the people involved. In other words, their continual monitoring of weight may have been a reflection of their dedication to their goal. But that may not be for everyone.
MyFitness Pal is a leading global provider of health and fitness advise and apps. In fact, in 2020 their wellness app had 200 million users.5 They recently described the following (not uncommon) scenario:
You start exercising and eating a healthier diet and decide to check your progress after a few days. You jump on the scales and find you’ve lost nothing. What do you do? Give up because it seems pointless? Or start risking injury by exercising too much too soon? Or restrict your diet even more?
Have you really lost no weight? Perhaps you’ve replaced some fat with muscle. (More about that later). Or maybe your hydration levels were different at the before and after points.
The advice from the MyFitness Pal team is to ask yourself ‘will checking weight daily help you or harm your progress’? If you’re ‘mentally’ strong enough to ignore the fluctuations, then by all means, weigh yourself as often as you like. Seeing positive results is always motivational, and the study mentioned above definitely recommends regular weigh-ins. But don’t be too hard on yourself.
Whatever frequency of weigh-ins you choose, try the following tips:
A body composition monitor uses complex scientific calculations to estimate the level of muscle versus fat. They look like scales, but when you stand on them, a small electric signal is sent from the sensors under your feet and back again. Don’t worry, you can’t feel a thing.6 The level of resistance to the electrical signal helps determine the fat versus muscle content.7
Another very important aspect of body composition is where the fat is located. Subcutaneous fat (just beneath the skin surface) is what we see in the mirror. It will feel soft when you poke it. But what you can’t see is the fat lying deep in the abdomen – visceral fat.8
Too much visceral fat is thought to be closely linked to increased levels of fat in the bloodstream, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.8
Body composition monitors can help tell you what’s really happening under your skin.
You can check out the BodiSure Body Composition Scales here.