The Best Way to Keep Weight Off? Weigh Yourself This Often, Says New Study

Updated: Jun. 23, 2024

The all-female research team was encouraged by the results because weight loss maintenance was possible without stepping on the scale every day. 

It’s that hold-your-breath moment, often at the start of the day: The numbers on the scale can have so much influence on your sense of self-worth. Each one of us is so much more than the figure that flashes up—yet research has shown that consistently weighing yourself is one of the most effective ways to lose weight and subsequently keep it off.

But when can you take a step back from all that vigilance over your food intake, exercise, and weight? A study conducted by researchers from the University of Florida and the University of Virginia set out to determine how often an individual should weigh themselves to effectively keep weight off.

The results and analysis were published in March 2024 in the journal Obesity. Led by scholars of metabolism, cardiovascular health, and psychology, the study followed 74 adults who were overweight or obese with an average age of 50. The study tracked  these participants throughout a nine-month maintenance period after completing a three-month-long weight loss plan, asking them to monitor their weight, food intake, and activity and to report on the days they tracked every week. 

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The researchers found that weight re-gain correlated with the frequency per week that the participants monitored their weight. Those who continued monitoring their weight, diet, and activity at least three days per week were likelier to have maintained their weight at the end of the nine months. Participants who tracked their values for five days or more each week were more likely to continue losing weight. And interestingly, tracking for one to two days per week was associated with “significant weight gain.”

The researchers were encouraged by the results because in this study, maintenance was attainable with just three to four days of monitoring per week. “These results provide support for using modified schedules of self-monitoring during maintenance, with the potential to lower self-monitoring burden and ultimately improve long-term adherence and weight-loss maintenance,” they said.

Additionally, they note that the data support the idea that a “slow and steady” approach is more effective than “bursts” of weight monitoring. Also, consistently reporting metrics three to four days per week worked much better than reporting seven days one week and then only one day on another week.

This modified maintenance is encouraging for people who want to be a little more flexible, but still mindful, with their diets after weight loss.