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How Often Should You Weigh Yourself When Dieting?

Dr. Mike Moreno reports in his book, The 17 Day Diet, “Not too many people like to weigh themselves. Doctors know this. After patients step on the scale, they think it is giving them the weight of a completely different person, like Hulk Hogan.”

Should a Dieter Weigh Daily, Weekly, or What?

Most dieters are impatient to see results and many jump on the scale every day to find out the verdict. Is this wise?

Some weight loss experts feel that weighing daily can have a detrimental effect on motivation if the number on the scale isn’t what a dieter had hoped to see. Additionally, it takes a reduction of 3,500 calories to lose a pound. Due to these two facts, many weight loss plans incorporate a weekly weigh-in.

However, Irene Rubaum Keller, licensed psychotherapist and author of the book, Foodaholic, recommends tracking weight daily, first thing in the morning. In her Huffpost article, “How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?“, Keller recommends, “Look at your average weekly weights to really see what is happening. If you do it this way, all the water weight fluctuations get evened out and you can get a good picture of what is really going on.”

What Do Weight Loss Experts Recommend?

Regardless of the frequency, many doctors and weight loss counselors encourage an appointment with the scale on a regular basis, a minimum of weekly.

Judith Korner, MD, PhD, and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University in New York is quoted by Lisa Harris on the Weight Watcher’s website. In Harris’s article, “Measure Up” she quotes Korner, “To get the most accurate picture of your progress, stick to a weekly weigh-in since weight can fluctuate on a daily basis due to water retention.”

Bob Greene, exercise physiologist and Oprah’s certified personal trainer, recommends stepping on the scale no more than one day a week. He quizzes his readers in his book, Total Body Make Over, “Did you know that your body allows for only about a loss of three pounds of fat per week?”

The National Weight Control Registry credits regular weigh-ins for long term weight loss. According to the study, almost three-fourths of the participants (who had lost weight and kept it off for two years) weighed themselves at least once a week.

Additionally:

  • Weight Watchers® recommends a weekly weigh-in, through either a group meeting or online tool.
  • Dr. Mike Moreno, author of The 17 Day Diet recommends a weigh-in every few days or a minimum of weekly, and at the end of each of the plan’s “cycles.”
  • The Medi-Weightloss® Program schedules a weekly weigh-in appointment that also tracks BMI, and advises patients to wait for that appointment.
  • The Jenny Craig® Weight Loss Program recommends a once-a-week weight check at a consistent time of day, preferably mornings.
  • The Atkins® program does not recommend any particular schedule, probably because of the rapid results they promise. Blog Posts indicate those following this diet weigh daily.
  • Nutrisystem® recommends weighing yourself once per week, at the same time of day, and in the same clothes!

What to do?

Regardless of the diet plan in action, the number on that scale at any point in time is a personal matter, and can be exhilarating or depressing. The majority of experts seem to side with weekly weigh-ins, but realistically, it’s likely that most individuals trying to lose weight may sneak a peek mid-week. The important thing to remember, regardless of the frequency, is to be realistic about expectations. Long-term weight loss is most often achieved by a steady-as-she-goes dieting approach.

Resources:

The National Weight Control Registry

Dr. Mike Moreno, The 17 Day Diet, Dr. Mike Moreno, pub. 17 Day Diet, Inc., 2010

Bob Greene, Total Body Makeover, pub. Simon and Schuster, 2005

Irene Rubaum Keller, Foodaholic, pub. Mill City Press, 2011

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.

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If you feel that you have a health problem, you should seek the advice of your Physician or health care Practitioner.

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