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How Often Should I Weigh Myself?

From our experience, the answer varies based a number of factors such as:

  • The goal you're trying to achieve

  • The length of time you've been sticking with a training programme and/or your nutrition plan

  • Personal preference

  • How obsessive of a personality you have and the psychological impact regular weighing might have on you


Below we discuss weight in a bit more detail, the pro's and con's of weighing yourself regularly as well as giving our opinion on weighing frequency. There are also example weighing schedules below to help you put a plan in place for your situation.


Let's get in to it...


What is Your Weight?

This sounds like an obvious question but it's important to understand this in a little more detail so that you can understand the factors that may cause your weight to change.


Your weight is the combination of everything in your body, from bones, tendons, ligaments and minerals to organs, fluids, muscle and fat.


Some parts of the body will barely change at all in weight over time. For example, once you're a fully formed adult, the weight of your bones isn't going to change much over a short or medium period of time (the bones may decrease in density over the course of decades but it's not going to affect your weight much on a week by week basis).


This is similar when it comes to your organs. Any change in size of your kidneys or heart or lungs is not going to make a material difference to the scales on a week by week basis.


On the other hand, changes to fat levels, muscle mass levels and fluids in the body are going to have an impact on a weekly basis and cause your weight to fluctuate.



How often should I weigh myself?
Weighing yourself regularly has pros and cons


What Your Weight Isn't...

Your weight isn't a tell-all story. Because your weight is a single number, it doesn't differentiate between fat, muscle and fluids and it doesn't give a full picture as to what is going on inside of your body and the changes that are occurring over time when following a training programme or diet.


The weight number also doesn't give any reasoning to why it's up or down or staying the same on any given day vs the last time you weighed in. It's a stand alone number with little context.


Weight and BMI

BMI (Body Mass Index) is your weight in kilograms (kg) divided by your height squared.


In simple terms, the calculation gives you a rough idea as to what your weight "should" be for someone of your height. We say "should" in inverted commas because two people of the same height can have wildly different genetics, body types, musculature etc and so what their weight natural weight could be may vary greatly.


Whilst BMI isn't the most effective way of measuring how healthy you are, it does give a good idea, for the general population, as to how much they should be weighing.


The main drawback of BMI is that it doesn't differentiate between "good weight" i.e. muscle mass and "bad weight" i.e. high amounts of fat.


To give an example, an elite male rugby player might be deemed as "overweight" if you were to judge him just by what showed on the scales and his BMI. The truth is that he is most likely of a low body fat % and a very high amount of muscle, making them healthy and with a high level of fitness and conditioning.


On the flip side, a member of the general population could be of average weight for their height but have very low levels of muscle mass and high amounts of relative fat. This would lead to a "skinny fat" physique and certainly not be healthy. So even though the weight is roughly where it should be according to BMI, it doesn't necessarily mean it's good.


And in the case of the rugby player, just because weight is over, it doesn't necessarily mean it's bad.


For this reason, weight alone should't be the only metric you use to track progress. You should use a combination of tools to track how your body is progressing and not rely on one metric alone.


More on the alternatives and other metrics to use alongside weighing yourself below.


Why Bother to Weigh Yourself?

The main reason to weigh yourself is to track if your weight is going up, going down, or staying around the same level over a period of time.


The reason you are likely to want to know this information is to track a goal that you are trying to achieve and to provide an indication of whether the dietary and/or exercise habits you are implementing are causing your weight to move in the right direction, the wrong direction, or not making a difference to your weight.


Benefits of Weighing Yourself Regularly

Accountability / Motivation

Regularly stepping on the scale can help hold you accountable to your health and fitness goals. It provides a tangible measurement of progress and reminds you to stay committed to your objectives. Plenty of research studies (like this one) have shown that those who weigh themselves every day whilst trying to lose weight lose more than those who don't weigh themselves as frequently. Stepping on the scales often keeps the goal front of mind and likely influences your behaviour on a day to day basis, leading to better results and a positive cycle of then reinforcing behaviours that will continue to drive weight in the direction you want.


Monitoring Progress

Weighing yourself regularly allows you to track changes in your weight over time. This helps you monitor your progress toward your goals, whether it's weight loss, weight maintenance, or weight gain.


Identifying Patterns

By weighing yourself consistently, you can identify patterns and trends in your weight fluctuations. This insight can help you understand how your behaviours, such as dietary choices, exercise routines, and hydration levels, affect your weight.


Flattens Out Anomalies

Your weight can jump around a bit day to day depending on numerous factors such as water retention, the types of food you've eaten, digestion, volume of food, stress, sleep etc. And so taking your weight on a regular basis allows you to see that one reading may just be an anomaly. Where as if you were not weighing yourself regularly and took the same reading it may appear that your weight has drastically changed.


Reinforcing Positive Habits and Adjusting Behaviours

Regular weigh-ins provide valuable feedback that can help you make informed decisions about your lifestyle habits. If you notice fluctuations or trends in your weight that aren't aligned with your goals, you can adjust your behaviors accordingly, whether it's modifying your diet, increasing physical activity, or prioritising self-care. On the flip side, if weight is moving in the right direction relative to your goals then you know to keep doing the things you've been doing.


Drawbacks of Excessive Weighing

Obsession With the Number

Excessive weighing can lead to an unhealthy obsession with the number on the scale. Constantly focusing on minor fluctuations in weight may cause unnecessary stress and anxiety, leading to an unhealthy preoccupation with body image and self-worth tied to the scale.


Negative Emotional Impact

For some individuals, frequent weigh-ins can result in negative emotions, such as frustration, disappointment, or guilt, especially if the numbers on the scale don't meet their expectations. This can contribute to feelings of inadequacy and undermine self-confidence. This is something that we have noticed when working with people who have had a tricky relationship with the scales throughout their childhood or through sport. Female dancers, swimmers and gymnasts all seem to have a relationship with the scales that has been distorted through excessive and pressurised weigh ins when younger and has led to weighing in as an adult sometimes being a somewhat traumatic experience.


Discouragement From Temporary Fluctuations

Weight naturally fluctuates throughout the day due to factors like hydration levels, food intake, digestion, and hormonal changes. Excessive weighing can lead to discouragement or frustration when seeing these normal fluctuations, even though they don't reflect true changes in body fat or muscle mass. We're sure that at some point you would have stepped on the scales thinking it will be lower than the number that appears and immediately been discouraged when the number is a bit higher and thought: "what's the point?!"


Disordered Eating Patterns

Constantly monitoring weight fluctuations may exacerbate disordered eating behaviors, such as restrictive eating or bingeing and purging, as individuals may resort to extreme measures to manipulate their weight in the short term. This is obviously hugely counterproductive but regular weighing can encourage short term destructive habits in order to achieve short term unsustainable results.


Loss of Focus on Overall Health

Overemphasis on the number on the scale may overshadow other important aspects of health and well-being, such as body composition, muscle mass, physical fitness, and overall quality of life. Excessive weighing can lead to neglecting these factors in favor of chasing a specific weight goal.


Inaccurate Assessment of Progress

Weighing yourself too frequently may result in an inaccurate assessment of progress, as daily fluctuations in weight can obscure the true trend over time. This can lead to frustration or a false sense of achievement if short-term fluctuations are mistaken for significant progress or setbacks.


Potential for Eating Disorders

For individuals predisposed to or struggling with eating disorders, frequent weigh-ins can exacerbate disordered eating behaviors and contribute to an unhealthy fixation on weight and body image.


HPT's Opinion on What is a Good Frequency for Tracking Your Weight

Firstly, we are of the opinion that using weight as a metric is a good idea up to a certain point. If you are overweight, and you know that too much of that weight is fat, then priority number one should be to start to get your weight trending down towards the healthy range. After all, being overweight is a leading indicator of health risks developing such as cardiac diseases, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure and more.


Once your weight is approaching or within the healthy range for your height, you should turn your focus to body fat % and muscle mass as the leading metric you use or your main goal driver, or, go by what you see in the mirror and how content you are in your physical appearance.


There comes a point where weight isn't the main goal, and body composition (what your weight is made up of) becomes more important.


Beginner

If you're overweight and a beginner and are starting a new diet or training programme then for the first 3-4 weeks we would advise weighing yourself every day. As you begin to progress then dropping to 3-4 times per week (once every other day) is a good frequency to hit and then gradually reducing to once per week or once every two weeks as your focus shifts to body composition and not weight.


Intermediate and Advanced

If you've been training for a while or been following a nutrition programme for a while then weighing yourself 3-4 times per week would be a good starting point. This helps to get a clear picture of how your weight is trending and irons out any anomalies.


You could move to once per week but understand that weighing in once per week or less, you can sometimes catch your weight on a "bad day" and it not be a true representation of where you're at e.g. you've had a big meal in the couple days before, you're body is retaining higher amount of water due to poor sleep or stress, your digestion isn't working well etc.


If Your Weight Is Not Your Goal

If your weight is not really a goal for you then we'd recommend keeping track of it every couple of weeks or once per month. This ensures that you're keeping a little eye on what's going on and ensuring it's not creeping up without you knowing.


A client at our Bank studio recently said that he has "break glass" number - which we thought was a very good analogy. If his weight hits a certain number then he knows he needs to spend a few weeks tidying up his diet and getting more exercise in to get his weight down to a more acceptable (in his eyes) level.


Holiday Periods

Around holiday seasons such as Easter or Christmas, and even pre/post holidays that you go on throughout the year, it's always a good idea to track your weight. It helps to keep a handle on things and not needlessly over indulge.


Many people want to think "ah, it's a holiday, I just don't want to think about it!" but the reality is that many people needlessly over indulge and take on huge amount of excess calories. Whilst it feels good in the moment, this can lead to feeling sluggish, bloated, tired and effect digestion soon after. Tracking your weight pre, post and during holiday periods can help keep your overall health front of mind, motivate you to exercise more and stop you from undoing good work and progress that you've made prior to the period.


Alternative Approaches to Tracking Progress

Measuring Body Fat % and Muscle Mass

There are various ways to do this - have an expert use calipers to determine your body fat %, BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis - the machines that you stand on) or Dexa Scans - often considered the "gold standard". Any of these methods can give you a more detailed understanding of your body composition.


Taking Progress Photos

Regularly taking photos of yourself to see the change that is occurring is uber important. Sometimes, it can be difficult to see the changes that are happening on a day by day or week by week basis because you're seeing yourself in the mirror every day. We always say that stats tell one story, but photos tell another.


Taking Measurements

Using circumference measurements such as waist, hip, thighs, arms, shoulders and chest can show where fat is decreasing in different areas of the body and where the body is tightening.


Pinch Tests

Just a good old fashioned pinch of your "problem areas" to feel and visually see how much fat is there will help you see progress over time. For most people, the highest amount of fat sits around their belly and so performing a pinch test to the side of your belly button periodically can be helpful in monitoring fat levels. .


Outfit Tests

Have an outfit that you use to test transformation progress. For men, this might be a suit and for women this might be a dress or a favoured outfit. Using the outfit as a test for progress can be a good idea as it allows you to see progress in a very applicable, real life scenario and highlights the changes that are occurring.


We know that every single person reading this article has put on a pair of old trousers or jeans or a top and immediately thought: "hmmmm, this feels a bit tight!". When monitoring progress for your transformation using something as basic as a pair of jeans can really highlight the positive progress you're making.


Conclusion

Weighing yourself regularly can help keep you on track when following a weight loss programme by holding you accountable and keeping motivation levels high when things are going well. However, when the scales don't show the numbers you'd like it can be disheartening and potentially alter your behaviour in a damaging way, and so it's important to use a variety of metrics to track your performance and goals over time.


It's also important to consider that if you've previously had a relationship with your weight, the scales or food that has been damaging to your mental health and you have a tendency to be hard on yourself or obsessive then limiting use of the scales and using other metrics, as well as how you feel in yourself, is very important.


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