Weight-conscious people may try weighing themselves multiple times a day. But if your weighing scale is properly calibrated and you’re losing weight at a healthy rate of up to one pound per week, those numbers are unlikely to change significantly. The exception to this, however, is if you’re weighing yourself in the morning and then again later in the day.
For weight-conscious individuals, it can be disheartening to think they have lost weight in the morning only to gain it back later in the day. But this has less to do about your weight loss journey and more about bodily processes you cannot control. So, here’s why you weigh less in the morning and how often (and how) you should weigh yourself to get an accurate measurement.
Why Do You Weigh Less in the Morning?
Even while you’re asleep, your body’s involuntary processes will continue to function. This means your digestive system is still digesting your dinner, your kidneys are filtering out the extra fluids to be excreted, and all the undigested remains are making their way past your intestines to be excreted.
When you wake up, assuming you’ve had at least seven hours of sleep, your body should be empty of food and excess fluids. After you urinate and defecate, you’ll find that your body appears lighter on the weighing scale. So, it will appear that you weigh less in the morning.
Once you start eating and drinking again, however, that weight you appear to have lost will return. It doesn’t matter how healthy or unhealthy your food and drinks are: a cup of water can increase your body weight by half a pound, while most foods are 20 percent water. So, even the most healthy lifestyles will result in gaining that weight back.
Do We Weigh Less After Urinating and Defecating?
Each time you urinate, you’re letting go of up to half a liter of urine, which is around two cups. So, holding it in may mean carrying up to one pound of excess fluids in your system. When you weigh yourself, it’s recommended that you do it on an empty bladder.
For defecation, bowel movements are basically you emptying your colon. The average bowel movement measures up to half a pound. This explains why you feel so much lighter after using the bathroom.
Fat vs. Muscle: How It Affects Your Weight
Your weighing scale doesn’t discriminate between muscle and fat in terms of weight. So, if your workouts help you gain muscle and lose fat, there won’t be a significant change on the scale even if you notice a physical difference in the mirror. On the other hand, if your workout routine focuses more on gaining muscles without losing fat, you’re going to weight more.
How Often Should We Weigh Ourselves?
Weighing yourself multiple times a day is unnecessary, ineffective, and will only affect your self-esteem and drive to lose weight. Burning calories does not immediately mean burning fat or losing weight, so weighing yourself before and after a workout won’t make any difference.
Weight fluctuation is also normal. Depending on how much you eat, what you eat, your hormones, and what you’re wearing, your weight may fluctuate – and that’s normal. And if you don’t see any difference, you may feel disheartened and demotivated to continue your weight loss.
So, how often should you weigh yourself? Some recommend checking once a day or once a week, and it’s up to how comfortable you feel about seeing the progress of your weight loss.
Weighing Every Day
A study from the American Heart Association tracked over a thousand participants and found that those who weighed themselves almost every day found themselves losing an average of 1.7 percent of their weight. This is in comparison to those who weighed themselves weekly and showed a less significant weight loss difference.
By weighing yourself daily, you’re increasing your self-monitoring and holding yourself accountable by having real-time feedback on your weight loss journey. Its a source of feedback that reminds you of your progress and how far along you are to reach your weight goals.
However, this can lead to several drawbacks. The first is that weighing yourself daily may lead to an obsession just as bad as weighing yourself multiple times a day. And by doing it more frequently, you’re seeing the changes at a slower, more gradual pace. So, if you don’t see a huge change, you may be demotivated and discouraged.
Weighing Yourself Weekly
Weighing yourself may be the more ideal option for those who aren’t as intense about weight loss and prefer to measure long-term differences. Given that a healthy weight loss lifestyle should result in at least one pound loss per week, some people may want to weigh themselves on a weekly basis.
While this is the less intense method, its drawbacks are that accountability is less present. In between one weigh-in to the next, it’s easy to slip up and break your diet or decide not to work out because you’re hoping that everything you do within the week will eventually accumulate to the intended weight loss. With this kind of mindset, it’s easy to justify breaking your diet for a sweet treat every now and then thinking that you can make up for it for the rest of the days of the week.
So, How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?
It ultimately depends on how comfortable you are. Weighing yourself every day ensures full accountability and intense self-monitoring. But if you find yourself obsessing every day about your progress, it may be best to take a breather.
You don’t necessarily have to choose between weighing yourself daily and weekly. If either option feels too intense or too relaxed, try weighing yourself every other day instead. From there, you can determine if you need more accountability by weighing yourself daily or less accountability by weighing yourself less frequently.
Should you choose to weigh yourself daily, make sure that you are doing it properly.
How to Weigh Yourself Properly
Make sure that your scale is properly calibrated. Ideally, buy a quality digital scale to get the best results.
When weighing yourself, it’s important to be consistent and weigh yourself at the same time every day. If you’re going to do it in the morning after you wake up, empty your bladder, and have a bowel movement. You should also weigh yourself the next day after following the same routine.
Because if you do it in the morning on one day and then at night after a heavy meal the next day, it’s likely that the progress you’re tracking will be very inaccurate.
Also, take note of what you’re wearing when you weigh yourself. Wearing lightweight clothing helps you get as close as you can to your actual weight, but wearing denim jeans and a heavy top can add on the pounds when you step on the scale. Ideally, you should weigh yourself without any clothes, but some clothes may not even make a difference.
Weight fluctuations are normal and are another reason weighing yourself multiple times a day is unnecessary. Aside from weighing yourself in the morning, factors like what you eat, when you eat, exercise, and hormones can make you lose or gain weight by up to five pounds throughout the day. Measuring yourself and seeing these changes each time can only confuse and demotivate you.
Here are common reasons your weight may be fluctuating:
- Water. Excessive fluids in your body can add weight. Even when you work out, drinking water replaces the weight of the fluids you sweat out, but it won’t cause long-term weight gain.
- Food. Heavy meals can add to your weight. Food that is heavy in sodium and carbohydrates can cause your body to retain water, making you feel bloated and heavier.
- Urine and stool. Constipation and holding it in can add up to two pounds.
- Medication. Insulin, antidepressants, and other medications can affect your appetite, metabolism, or water retention.
- Menstrual cycle. Women retain more water during certain parts of their cycle, which is why they feel heavier on the first day of their period.
- Alcohol. It takes longer for the body to get rid of alcohol. It also slows down digestion and leads to water retention.
Weight Not Necessarily an Indication of Health
A weighing scale isn’t necessarily an indication that your lifestyle is ineffective. Weight may not always be an accurate indication that you are progressing.
For example, did you know that muscle is smaller than fat? A pound of fat has much more volume than a pound of lean muscle. So, if your workout consists of gaining muscle and losing fat, your weighing scale can’t tell the difference. But you can tell you are losing fat from the way your clothes are looser and you’re able to perform moves like push-ups with more ease.
Instead of looking at the weighing scale, try measuring your body fat with a tape measure. It’s a good indication to see how much fat you’re losing and how lean you’re becoming even if there isn’t a significant change in your weight.
Do Not Look at the Scale Multiple Times a Day
If your weighing scale is calibrated right and you’re trying to lose weight through a healthy balance of diet and exercise, using a weighing scale multiple times a day is unnecessary. At the average weight loss of one pound a week, it’s impossible to see a significant difference in weight loss throughout the day.
Instead of using your scale multiple times a day, follow our guide to weighing yourself properly. Know when is the best time to weigh yourself accurately, and then do it accordingly. It’s not healthy to obsess about your weight, and as long as you’re living a healthy lifestyle, that weight loss you want will come gradually.