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If you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, just how often do you need to weigh yourself? Some say weigh every day, while others advise not to weigh at all.

It all depends on your goals.

Research suggests stepping on the scale every day is an effective aid if you’re trying to lose weight, but you may want to weigh yourself less often if you’re maintaining your current weight.

The key to weighing yourself is to not get obsessed with the number on the scale. Sometimes weighing yourself can have a negative impact on self-esteem.

While it’s helpful to know your current body weight, there are other ways you can measure your overall health.

Talk to your doctor about your specific weight concerns and the current self-weighing recommendations for various health goals.

You likely step on the scale each time you see your doctor. If you only see your doctor once a year, this means you may not be aware of your current weight.

Your weight is more than a number. It’s also an indication of your overall health.

Why to weigh yourself regularly

Self-weighing at home can help with the following:

  • weight loss
  • weight gain
  • weight maintenance
  • detecting health issues related to sudden weight gain or loss, such as thyroid problems

While it’s recommended you have a general idea of your current weight regardless of your health goals, dieting and weight loss require you to weigh yourself more often. Some of the most common routines include daily, weekly, and monthly weigh-ins.

Daily

If you’re wanting to lose weight, then you might need to weigh yourself daily.

One 12-month study found that adults who weighed themselves daily were successful in losing weight. The same study participants also engaged in other weight loss-promoting methods, such as step goals and a reduced-calorie diet.

Another 6-month study led to the same conclusions. Researchers found that daily weighing leads to long-term behavioral changes.

Weekly

While many experts support daily weigh-ins, you can weigh yourself just once a week and still work toward your goal.

This method may be helpful after you’ve reached your initial weight loss goal and are transitioning into the maintenance phase. This is the time when you’re at the most risk for regaining weight.

Monthly

Weighing in once a month while you’re dieting isn’t ideal. It doesn’t allow you a chance to make timely modifications to your eating or exercise plan if something isn’t working.

However, a monthly weigh-in is still better than none at all.

Never

Another approach to measuring your weight is to not weigh at all. Since muscle mass can weigh more than body fat, it may feel like a failure if the numbers on the scale don’t move down.

Therefore, some experts recommend relying on more visual methods of weight loss, such as:

  • body tape measurements
  • body fat percentage
  • considering your height and bone structure

You can also gauge your weight loss efforts by how your clothes feel as well as your energy and fitness levels.

You may not need to weigh yourself as often if you aren’t trying to lose weight. You might find that a weekly or monthly approach may be best if you’re looking for weight maintenance or if you’re trying to gain weight.

In some cases, weighing yourself too often can affect your mental health. It may also worsen preexisting mental health or eating disorders.

when to talk to your doctor about weighing yourself daily

Talk to your doctor about self-weighing if you have a history of:

  • anorexia
  • bulimia
  • binge eating disorder
  • anxiety
  • depression

Your weight can fluctuate throughout the day based on many factors, such as hydration, what you eat, and hormones.

Thus, it’s best to weigh yourself first thing in the morning.

As you measure your progress, you’ll also find that you get more accurate results by weighing yourself at the same time each day, too.

It’s important to know there are many factors that can affect the number on the scale that are not related to body fat.

Weight fluctuations are completely normal. You may find your weight temporarily goes up or down based on the following factors:

  • menstruation
  • dehydration
  • water weight gain
  • a salty meal or high-salt diet
  • alcohol consumption
  • caffeine consumption (acts as a diuretic)
  • what you ate the night before
  • a high-carb diet
  • weekend binge-eating
  • exercise
  • underlying health conditions

Many people find benefits associated with self-weighing. Many people also don’t benefit from self-weighing. In some people, daily weigh-ins may lead to unhealthy behaviors.

Some of the risks associated with self-weighing include:

  • fasting in an effort to try and make the number on the scale go down faster
  • fad dieting to lose weight quickly
  • “cheating” in your food journal
  • binge eating
  • anxiety, depression, or both from not seeing the results you want
  • psychological distress

Remember that it takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of body fat. This is from a combination of calories used during exercise as well as dieting.

Such a process takes time. Speeding it up with fad dieting will only put your metabolism in starvation mode and make you gain weight again. Not to mention, fad dieting isn’t sustainable in the long term.

How often you weigh yourself ultimately depends on your current health and future goals.

Frequent self-weighing tends to work best for people looking to lose weight. According to the National Institutes of Health, starting out modestly, like aiming for a 5 to 10 percent drop in weight, can also boost your long-term success.

Keep in mind self-weighing looks different for everyone. It’s certainly not the only method of gauging your overall health.

Talk to your doctor about your personal health needs, and ask them about your ideal weight and how to achieve it in a healthy, sustainable way.