If you ever tried to loose weight you know that the pounds won’t come done in a straight line. Daily measurements on the bathroom scale can fluctuate several pounds although nothing changed in your diet regime. This can be very disappointing and even a break point for many dieters that makes them return to previous eating habits. Still more and more professionals recommend that you should weigh yourself every day for better weight loss results. Find out the reasons why scale measurements can substantially fluctuate on a day to day basis. When you should ignore it and when you should start doing something about it.
Daily weighing promotes weight loss
Weighing yourself is a tool that can help weight loss and is used to track your weight over time. Traditionally many diet professionals told you so far to weigh yourself weekly on a regular basis to track your weight loss progress. The reasoning is that you stay focused on a long term goal and don’t obsess over daily weight differences. More recent studies [1, 2, 3 ] though, show that daily weighing improves weight loss significantly. Also daily weighing seems to help keep the pounds down after weight loss goals have been achieved.
In a study led by Dori M. Steinberg, PhD, RD, 47 overweight study participants were divided into two groups. One group weighed themselves every day the other group once a week. The study followed the participants for a period of 6 months. In average daily weighers lost about 6.1 kg more than the other group! That’s a huge difference, just because they jumped on the scale every day.
It seems that daily weight measuring keeps people accountable and makes them more aware of their weight loss choices. They make more favorable health decisions. With their daily weight on their mind they decide more often to eat less than they would have or to exercise more. This adds up over time and can improve weigh loss drastically. To weigh yourself ever day has positive points such as:
- Motivating you to keep on making positive changes
- Adopting more weight control behaviors
- It makes you more aware of your diet choices, whether you are trying to lose weight or maintain weight
- Holding you accountable
As daily weighing for weight loss becomes more widely adopted among professionals it is important to know that there is a negative side to daily weighing. The numbers on the scale can fluctuate quite a bit if you measure yourself daily. These fluctuations can be frustrating and occur even if you’re sticking to your diet.
How to make sure you’re measuring right
First you should make sure your weight measurements are comparable to each other. That means it’s best to always:
- weigh yourself at the same time of day
(best in the morning after using the bathroom and before eating anything)
- always use the same scale on a flat surface
- weigh yourself with the same amount of clothing
(weigh yourself every day in pyjamas, or without clothes but stick to the pattern since clothes can add 2-3 pounds to your weight).
What happens when you weigh yourself every day
Even when you weigh yourself in the same way every day you’ll notice that weight fluctuations on a daily basis can still be significant. If you indulged in a three course heavy meal obviously you know where the difference on the scale is coming from. A heavy meal can easily add up to 4 pounds the next day and destroy your diet efforts for the past week or two.
On the other hand fluctuations of a pound or two are common on a daily basis even if you haven’t sinned in your diet. Day to day fluctuation in weight measurement are completely normal. Still many dieters can be discouraged by the numbers on the scale and give up their diet goals. That’s why it’s important to know common reasons such fluctuations can occur which will help you understand and overcome eventual disappointment and keep you on the right track.
Common reasons for temporary weight fluctuation
- Water intake
If you’ve taken some liquid before measuring yourself it will immediately reflect on your weight. So drinking a big glass of water can add 200-400 gr to your weight measurement.
Exercise can lead to temporary water and weight loss.
- Retained water due to hormonal changes
That’s why women can be heavier during their period.
When it is hot body weight can go up by several pounds due to water retention by our kidneys.
- Eating high carb or salty food
Eating starchy or very salty foods retains water in our body which will show on the scale.
- Frequency of bowel movement
Constipation can lead to fluid retention which will show on the scale for up to several pounds. Also weighing yourself before a bowl movement will make the numbers on the scale fluctuate.
As you can see most of the reasons for temporary weight fluctuation is due to water retention. Water retention usually, is a temporary condition and will withdraw after the conditions that led to it go away.
How you should deal with weight fluctuations
If you notice weight fluctuations up to several pounds during daily measurement you shouldn’t get immediately freaked out or disappointed. If you’re trying to lose weight it could be one of the above mentioned reasons that will resolve itself over a couple of days to a week as long as you stick to a healthy diet.
Also don’t forget that the scale can’t record all progress during weight loss and that you shouldn’t get too discouraged by minor weight fluctuations. Simple weight measurement doesn’t reflect body composition for example. So it’s possible that you lost fat and gained muscle which doesn’t show on the scale but is the ultimate goal of weight loss. Also by measuring your waist circumference or noticing how your clothes fit will help you see if you have lost weight.
If the pounds on the scale don’t show a trend to going down over a week to ten days than you’re dealing most probably with weight gain. If that’s the case you should try to achieve a calorie deficit through food choices, portion control and exercise to get on track with your weight loss goals.
To weigh yourself every day has been shown to help with weight loss and weight control behaviors. Day to day fluctuations in weight measurements are normal and shouldn’t be of concern if weight normalizes during several days and shows an overall trend of weight loss.
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