Why is that even a question?
Why is “how often should you weigh yourself” a question we should be asking? Because when you’re losing weight it’s never a straight line. You will never find that you are just a tiny bit lighter each day. Your weight will go up some days and go down on other days. If you’re actually losing weight then it will go down more than it will go up. But the key point here is that it can go up.
Have a look at this genuine weight loss chart from one of our clients. You’ll see there are variations of 2.5kg in the space of 2 to 3 days both down and up! But you can see that the trend is very clearly downwards. We tend to refer to these random variations on the trend line as ‘noise’.
The noise can deceive. You think you are losing weight but the scales say otherwise. At least on the days you weighed yourself. It is normally proposed that weight loss clients weigh themselves once a week so ensure there is sufficient weight loss that the noise is immaterial. That way people do not get demoralised by seeing their weight go up.
But is that right? There are plenty of examples in this chart where the weight is higher one week later. What if you catch yourself on an ‘up’ day? You’re going to get even more demoralised.
Why isn’t weight loss a straight line?
Differences in water retention are largely responsible for the noise. Some of the shifts are genuine weight loss, but the noise is water.
Why does water status vary so much? All sort of things can affect it:
- Salt intake
- Carbohydrate intake
- Alcohol intake
- Fibre intake
- Hormone status
- Certain herbs
- Air temperature
Now can you see how it’s possible for your weight to vary so much? If you have several ‘retention’ factors aligning, you’re going to store a lot of water. Or it could be the reverse and you’ll end up peeing a lot more and losing water. But this is not something people think about or can generally control. So, you just have to go with it. It’ll be what it’ll be.
So, what’s the answer?
Our view is that it’s better to weigh yourself daily. I know it’s controversial. But as long as you understand that your weight can go up and down due to water retention, then you’ll be ok if you’re heavier one day than the next. You’re likely to see big swings both ways, but the trend will be down.
On the other hand, if you weigh yourself once a week and you catch yourself on a day when you’re retaining water, then your weight will have gone up. It can be a terrible feeling when you’ve tried really hard all week and your weight has gone up. It’s disheartening. You’re more likely to become demoralised and give up.
The best thing to do is to weigh yourself daily and chart your progress. That way you’ll be able to see the trend through the noise. The other benefit of daily weighing is that it helps you to keep your focus on the job in hand – losing weight.