Here’s How Often You Should Really Weigh Yourself, Say Expert Doctors

Updated: Apr. 13, 2024

Doctors in obesity medicine and weight management reveal how necessary it really is to know your weight—or your child's—and offer their preferred methods for monitoring health progress.

At home, in the gym locker room, or at the doctor’s office, stepping onto the scale usually creates a nerve-wracking feeling—so much that one doctor’s office told us many patients are requesting not to hear the number on the scale.

A growing number of clinical experts agree that it’s time to challenge a widely held belief: Today, some say for most healthy people, body weight is just one metric of several that provide a lens into the condition you’re in. “Our weight is just one number,” says Natasha Bhuyan, MD, FAAFP, a family medicine doctor in Phoenix, AZ and a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “It’s not reflective of our overall health.” If, like most of us, you grew up in a generation when weight dictated some degree of personal worth, these days it can feel confusing to know how often you should weigh yourself.

Experts told us how frequently to weigh yourself is a decision that should align with your personal health goals, your lifestyle, and your perspective on weight and wellness. Health professionals gave us their advice for how often you should be stepping on the scale, and alternative methods for monitoring health progress. Whether you’re aiming for weight loss, building muscle, maintaining your current weight, or simply keeping an eye on your general health, understanding the best way (and time) to weigh yourself can make all the difference.

Here’s how often you should weigh yourself

Angela Fals, MD, FAAP, DABOM, CCMS, an obesity medicine doctor and pediatrician in Winter Park, FL, says even though conventional wisdom (like one 2019 study) has long held that daily weigh-ins are most effective for weight loss, the truth is that how often you should weigh yourself “varies individually.”

Also a diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, Dr. Fals says a weekly weigh-in can be effective. Checking your weight once a week can offer an accurate reflection of your progress, reduce some anxiety around weight, and help to track changes.

Maxine Smith, RD, LD, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic, agrees about the efficacy of a weekly weigh-in and goes further to suggest you choose a specific day each week, like every Friday. Being consistent with the day of the week can provide a clear sense of your weight trends and flexibility for variations in your lifestyle pattern—hopefully without beating yourself up for that hump day margarita and guac, or pizza delivery on family movie night.

The consensus among experts is that behavioral consistency, not frequency, is what’s crucial. Research from 2017 concluded that the best results in weight loss came from a pattern of behaviors that included regular weigh-ins, tracking diet, and engaging in at least 60 minutes of high-intensity physical activity per week.

The best time to weigh yourself

For effective weight monitoring, Dr. Fals recommends weighing yourself in the morning after using the bathroom, and before meals or drinks. Always use the same scale to ensure reliability. This approach gives a more accurate picture of your progress.

Dr. Fals advises caution for parents: She recommends against weighing children. She explains that in young kids, focusing too much on the number on the scale can lead to unhealthy obsessions with weight, potentially causing eating disorders and body image issues. She suggests a more appropriate period for regular weighing comes later. “For older teens and adults who can approach weight loss from a more balanced perspective, frequent or daily weighing can be a motivational tool and helpful for staying on track with goals.”

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What to know about weight fluctuations

If you’ve followed that daily weigh-in at any point, Dr. Fals says it’s no wonder if it caused you stress or negatively impacted your mood: Minor day-to-day weight fluctuations feel major when you’re practicing discipline. Daily weight can vary due to natural factors like water retention and hormonal changes. “It’s normal to see a few pounds’ difference day-to-day,” Dr. Fals says, noting variables such as the time of day, bathroom visits, and menstrual cycles in women.

Research has also established a clear link between weight and sleep. Inadequate sleep can increase levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—leading to increased appetite and cravings for sugary, processed foods, contributing to weight gain. Plus, lack of sleep can sap the energy you need for physical activity.

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New ways to “weigh” your health progress beyond the scale

Dr. Falls points out that today, there are various methods to monitor how you’re doing that don’t involve the scale. While calorie counting or weighing food can be tedious and less effective in the long run, she suggests simple techniques like using your hands to estimate meal portions or a portion plate can be very helpful. She also says meal-tracking apps, fitness and sleep monitors, step trackers, and home scale apps can be handy.

Dr. Bhuyan emphasizes the importance of focusing on overall health goals and how you feel. For instance, if your goal is to eat healthier, track the frequency of home-cooked meals or daily vegetable intake. If you’re training for a specific fitness goal like a 5K run, monitor your daily exercise duration and improvement over time. She believes these meaningful goals and metrics significantly impact overall health more than just weight.

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