One of the easiest things you can do for weight loss is simply to step on the scale every day. I know, I know… you would rather eat a frog than see that number on the scale but hear me out. Once you own a scale it’s free to use, it takes just a second to complete, anyone can do it and research has shown that it is an effective weight loss tool.
In one study, participants were asked to weigh daily on a smart scale. The weight was sent automatically to researchers and the participants received weekly feedback by email. Participants were not told to change any other behaviors. On average, the intervention group weighed 6 days a week and consumed fewer calories/day (approx 300 calories less!) compared to the control group who weighed sporadically. That led to an average 13.5-pound weight loss in the intervention group and all they had to do was weigh themselves! Other studies that included daily weighing for weight control had similar results.
But what if the number you see on the scale makes you fret? Doesn’t it have negative effects on how you feel? Contrary to what you might expect, intervention participants in the study mentioned above, perceived daily weighing positively. And results of another study indicate that daily self-weighing does not cause adverse psychological outcomes such as depression, binge eating or other signs of disordered eating.*
While it may seem scary at first, the scale is not your enemy. The magic is all in the way you use it.
Here are some rules for daily self-weighing.
- Expect some fluctuation. Your weight will fluctuate 1-3 pounds every day regardless of your behaviors. Any fluctuation within that range is normal and to be expected. This is your grace period. Weight gain beyond 3lbs should serve as a warning sign to change your behaviors.
- Use your weight as feedback that lets you know what’s working and what is not. When you see a significant change on the scale think back to what you’ve been doing the past day or two that may be affecting your weight. If your weight is going up, use the opportunity to make tweaks to your eating and exercise habits now before it creeps up even higher and becomes harder to get off.
- Weigh at the same time every day on the same scale. Your weight not only fluctuates from day to day but also hour to hour. For example, you will likely weigh more in the evening than you will in the morning. Sticking to the same time every day gives you the most accurate comparison.
- Be consistent. Research shows those who way every day lose more weight than those who weigh 4 or 5 times a week. Think of it as a morning ritual just like brushing your teeth.
- Remember that your weight is only part of your health picture. It shouldn’t be the ONLY tool you use to monitor your eating and exercise behavior. Use it in combination with how you are sleeping, how much energy you have, how your clothes fit and so on. Weighing every day does not mean you shouldn’t look for those other non-scale victories.
So there you have it. While it may not sound fun to face that number every day, daily weighing is a simple tool that can influence your lifestyle habits and help you lose weight.
Were you shocked to hear that weighing every day can help you lose weight?
What fears, hesitations or thoughts do you have about weighing regularly?
What’s the worst thing and the best thing that could happen if you started weighing every day?
Will you give it a try? Let me know in the comments!
*An important caveat: These studies have screened out people with a history of eating disorders — who might obsess about weight and respond to falling or rising numbers with extreme dieting or binging.