To Weigh, Or Not To Weigh...That Is The Question

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

If you're trying to lose weight or simply don't want to gain unwanted pounds, how often should you weigh yourself? Many popular weight loss plans, such as Weight Watchers, do not recommend weighing yourself daily. Instead, they recommend stepping on the scales once per week or even less frequently. Our weight fluctuates somewhat from day-to-day, and daily weighing can lead to discouragement and potential diet sabotage if you see a higher number on the scale than you saw the day before. Most diet experts believe that a once-weekly or even monthly weigh-in is a more accurate reflection of weight control progress.

But a group of doctors who studied obese and overweight adults who were trying to lose weight as well as overweight adults who were trying to prevent weight gain found that those who weighed themselves more often lost more weight and prevented more weight gain over two years than those who weighed themselves less frequently. Contrary to the advice given in many popular weight loss regimens, this study suggests that at least some people can benefit from the accountability brought on by daily weigh-ins. Potential advantages of daily weighing include recognition of slow patterns of weight gain that may not be immediately apparent and the chance to modify lifestyle habits before the total weight gain becomes extreme and difficult to control.