How Often Should You Weigh Yourself & When Is The Best Time?

Regardless of your specific goal, one of the easiest and most common ways of tracking your progress is by weighing yourself regularly.

Simple and obvious enough, right? But like anything else, there are still important questions that need to be answered. For example, how often should you weigh yourself? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? And when you figure that out, when is the best time to do it? Morning? Afternoon? Night?

Your answers to these questions can result in some HUGE differences, so it’s important that you get them right and know all the facts. Let’s start with the most important fact of all.

Weighing Yourself: It’s Great And It Sucks

Before you can decide when and how often you should weigh yourself, you first need to understand why your weight is simultaneously an important and useful measure of progress AND a confusing and deceptive number that often fails to tell you the whole story. Here’s what I mean…

The Importance Of Weighing Yourself

  • It shows if things are working.
    Fat and muscle both weigh something, which means that losing fat will typically cause a decrease in body weight and building muscle will typically cause an increase in body weight. So what’s the best reason to weigh yourself regularly? To ensure that what you’re doing is actually working. Meaning, if your weight isn’t moving in the right direction for your goal, it’s a pretty good sign that your current diet/workout isn’t working and needs to be adjusted somehow.
  • It shows if things are working at the ideal rate they should be.
    In addition to just knowing if your body weight is moving in the right direction for your goal, there’s also the issue of whether your body weight is moving at the ideal rate for your goal. You see, depending on your exact goal and a few other factors specific to you and your body, there is a certain rate of weight loss and weight gain that is considered optimal. So what’s the second best reason to weigh yourself regularly? To ensure that your body weight is changing at the speed it should be (not too slow, not too fast).

The Problems With Weighing Yourself

  • “Weight” is more than just fat or muscle.
    There would be no downside to weighing yourself if the weight you lose and gain was guaranteed to always be either fat or muscle. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Your body weight can and very often does change as a result of a loss or gain in muscle, fat, water, glycogen, poop, food intake and more. That means daily fluctuations in body weight (plus extra monthly fluctuations for women) are extremely common and normal. And it’s this fact that causes 3 other problems…
  • “Weight” alone tells us nothing about the composition of that weight.
    The number on the scale only allows you to track your weight… not the composition of that weight. And since most of us want to lose fat (but not muscle) and gain muscle (but not fat), the composition of the weight we lose or gain is often more important than anything else. That’s why most people should do more than just weigh themselves to monitor progress. For example… use measurements, body fat percentage, pictures, mirror and so on.
  • Unrelated fluctuations in weight can skew progress or lack thereof.
    Let’s pretend you’re trying to lose fat, but your weight stays the same. Did you fail to lose fat, or did you lose fat successfully but have that weight counterbalanced by a gain of something else? And looking at it from the other side, are you incorrectly assuming that your lack of weight loss is a result of a gain in muscle when in reality you’re just failing to lose fat? (Both of these issues are covered in detail here: Weight Loss Plateau Myth: Muscle Weighs More Than Fat?)
  • Normal daily fluctuations in weight can drive a person crazy.
    Some people just aren’t aware of the fact that it’s normal for their body weight to fluctuate, and this can easily cloud that person’s judgement about the effectiveness of their diet/workout and generally drive them insane. Hell, even when you know there are other factors influencing your scale weight every day, just seeing that number fail to move (or move in the wrong direction) can still get into your head and lead to all sorts of problems (making unnecessary changes, depression, eating disorders, etc.).

What Does All Of This Mean?

It means that you should weigh yourself regularly because it’s a useful tool for tracking progress, but at the same time realize that the numbers you are seeing aren’t always an accurate representation of what your body is doing. And the reason you need to know this is because it all plays a role in answering the questions we originally set out to answer…

So How Often Should You Weigh Yourself?

Well, the most common recommendations you see are to weigh yourself every day, once a week, or once a month. And when you take all of the above into account, you’ll see that each frequency has its own PROS and CONS.

Weighing Yourself Every Day

Most people think weighing yourself every day is the LEAST accurate way because of those normal daily weight fluctuations I mentioned before. In a way, this is true. But, if you make one small change to the way you do it, you’ll see that daily weigh-ins are actually the MOST accurate way to do it.

Let me explain…

  • If you weigh yourself every day and make decisions based on these day-to-day changes, then you’re being a complete dumbass. Because of all of that daily weight fluctuation stuff I keep talking about, this would be the worst way to do it.
  • HOWEVER, if you weigh yourself every day and then take the AVERAGE at the end of the week (and base your decisions on THAT weekly number)… then you’ll have the most accurate figure you could possibly get. Doing it this way actually serves to eliminate the potential of daily weight fluctuations throwing things off.

This is definitely my #1 recommendation for how often you should weigh yourself, at least among sane, level headed people who truly understand how body weight works. Unfortunately, some people don’t fit this description.

Instead, some people will see the normal daily weight fluctuations I mentioned before and panic or feel depressed or make changes to their diet/workout that didn’t need to be made. So while weighing yourself every day is best in terms of accurately tracking your weight (and is my preferred way of doing it), it’s also a way that can potentially do more harm than good to certain people.

Weighing Yourself Once A Week

In terms of accuracy, weighing yourself once per week isn’t perfect. It’s certainly not useless… but it’s just not as good as weighing yourself every day and taking the weekly average. I mean, think about it.

Let’s say your once a week weigh-in happens to fall on a day when one of those normal weight fluctuations are taking place. Your progress (or lack thereof) is skewed and you’d have to wait until a week later to know for sure (unless of course next week’s weigh-in is skewed as well). This is why I often recommend waiting 2-3 weeks before making any changes to your diet or workout based on what your body weight is doing.

However, despite not being as accurate as possible, once per week might still be the right option for certain people. Which people? The ones who will go a bit crazy (or completely crazy) watching the day-to-day changes in weight that would come with the previous option.

I’ve just personally seen/heard about way too many people obsessing over their weight and making stupid decisions and changing their diet or workout as a result of letting daily weight fluctuations affect their judgement. Not to mention, the potential for this to lead to negative thoughts, depression and full blown eating disorders definitely exists.

To avoid all of this, certain people will be better off if they just weigh themselves once per week.

Weighing Yourself Once A Month

Let’s be honest here… in terms of monitoring progress, weighing yourself just once per month is pretty terrible and not recommended at all from an accuracy or tracking standpoint for obvious reasons.

But on the other hand, if you’re someone who will be driven to an eating disorder (or are recovering from one) or will just generally go nuts as a result of weighing yourself too frequently, then once per month may be just right for you.

And The Winner Is…

So how often should you weigh yourself? As usual, the true best answer is that it depends on you and the type of person you are.

  • Every Day
    In terms of the most accurate way to do it, weighing yourself every day is the best option. It’s how I do it, and as long as you do it correctly (take the weekly average) and don’t let the daily fluctuations negatively affect you, then it’s how I’d recommend it be done. But if you are the type of person who will turn it into an unhealthy obsession and respond poorly to seeing typical day-to-day changes in your weight, then you should probably avoid this option.
  • Once A Week
    In terms of a combination of accuracy and sanity, weighing yourself once per week might be best for certain people.
  • Once A Month
    And for certain extreme cases that may warrant other extremes, weighing yourself just once a month may be the best way to do it. In all other cases however, I don’t recommend this option at all.

So, that’s how often to do it. What about the best time to do it? Let’s find out…

When Is The Best Time To Weigh Yourself?

And now for the MUCH easier question to answer. Simply put…

The best time to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything. Be sure to wear as little clothing as possible. (If you do keep any clothes on, be sure to wear that same amount of clothing every time you weigh yourself.)

Why? Because weighing yourself any time other than first thing in the morning on an empty stomach will throw things off completely. Every bit of eating, drinking, sweating and what you do (or don’t do) in the bathroom over the course of the day will destroy any sense of accuracy.

It’s not unusual to see as much as a 5-10lb shift in weight at different times throughout the day, which is why: A) weighing yourself at random times “just to see” is completely pointless and potentially dangerous (it will just drive you crazy), and B) the dumbasses at the gym who weigh themselves before/during/after their workouts looking for signs of progress are F-ing hilarious!

Step On Up To The Scale

So, there you have it. The best time of the day to weigh yourself and how often you should do it. As long as you use your weight for what it is and ignore it for what it isn’t, it’s one of a handful of useful tools for tracking your progress.

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24 Comments

  1. Ross Bayer says

    Thanks for posting this. I definitely have felt frustration trying to monitor my weight on a daily basis.

    My research on the subject turned up a pretty useful mathematical process to use an exponentially smoothed rolling average (e.g. http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/e4/signalnoise.html). This seems to work really well, and I think gives more consistent feedback than just getting one averaged weight reading per week. Have you found pros/cons to this approach?

    • says

      Honestly, it was a bit too long for me to really read right now, but, just from looking at it and remembering what I can of quality of info behind The Hacker’s Diet from when I first read it probably 6-7 years ago… it’s most likely a fine/smart way to monitor your weight that, for the average person, will be completely unnecessary.

  2. Rayca says

    Scales and weight = not my favorite subject. I am a waddling penguin right now so I will NOT be weighing myself anytime soon. I have fat weight with muscle underneath. I don’t want the scale reminding me of the fat bit. I know how my clothes fit. That’s good enough for me right now. When I’m lean though, well, that’s a different story. Then, I weigh myself everyday and take the average. I honestly don’t see any other way to get a real world gauge. I guess I should be more diligent about the scale with regards to growth but honestly, once I look a certain way and am happy about leanness, that’s when I’ll weigh myself and I’m confident I will weigh more (in the right way). I just don’t like to do it when I know it will be disappointing. Girls and scales are not a good mix…lol

  3. Wildwabbit says

    I’ve actually found the wii fit balance board a really good tool for tracking body weight. It graphs everything for you. You can look back over a time period and see your progress quite clearly. If you are obsessive you can overwrite any of your days weigh ins, ie you can weigh yourself as many times in a day as you like and after the first one you can choose to save any of the others as that days result.

    I never weigh myself Sundays and Mondays, Saturday is my off diet day.

    The wii also has some great exersices based around the balance board for developing core strength, is surprising that you can work up a sweat just by balancing.

  4. Bibiana says

    I have just begun a lifestyle change- not a diet! I weigh 236 pounds, and I feel that for me weighing twice a week is the way to go. If I only weigh once a month, it is too easy for me to get careless. If I weigh every day it is too easy to get depressed. For me this is a happy medium.

  5. Omar says

    I’m not following a diet, just changed my eating habits, now I eat only fruit in the mornings, I eat whatever I want after noon, just don’t mix starch (rice, spaghetti, noodles, potatoes) with protein (chicken, steak, fish, no pork), go to bed early and make sure I get a good night sleep, my wife thinks I’m a nut for weighing myself everyday, but now I will show her this article, I’m 28 lbs down my original weight in a 3 month span and feeling great, never been so energetic in my life, my goal is 60 lbs down, I’m never hungry and I eat a lot, this is awesome! and so simple!, I wish I would’ve known this 15 years ago…

  6. Michael says

    Jay,

    So for example if i’m trying to build muscle, and let’s say I started my workout Monday. I’d weigh myself that monday morning, and would weigh myself everyday, and would take the week’s average and compare it to that next monday weight Is that right?

    Example:

    Mon : 141 (first day of training)
    Tue : 140
    Wed :140
    Thur : 141
    Fri : 140
    Sat :142
    Sun :141

    Weekly average : 141+140+140+ 141+140+ 142+ 141+ = Number / 7 (Compare against) Next monday weight

    • says

      EDIT: Sorry, accidentally skipped over an important part of what you said before answering. What you’re describing here is wrong. You want to compare the week’s average weight against the next week’s average weight. The average is all you want to care about.

      • Michael says

        Just noticed your edit Jay.
        So if i wanted to lose body fat, and started at 150 lbs on a Monday, and weighed myself everyday that week, and when i averaged all those numbers up Sunday and it was less than 150 lbs, then that means i was successful?

        • says

          Nope, you don’t want to pay attention to a single day (like you being 150lbs on Monday). You want to take the average for the week and compare it to the average of the next week.

          So you want to see the average of next week be slightly lower than the average of this week.

  7. hlord says

    This is great information–thank you, but read on… because this article pissed me off. I appreciate that you include the grey area of people who are made nervous by daily fluctuations in weight. That was thoughtful of you. SO, that’s why I **do not** understand why you got so hostile about people who weigh themselves at the gym. I don’t do this, but what other people do is not my business–and it isn’t yours either. And why call them dumbasses? You don’t know them. They are uninformed, not stupid. I thought the purpose of articles like yours was to inform the uninformed, not insult them. The hostility you throw around at the end of this article makes me wonder about your judgment, and wrecks the entire article for me. It also reinforces the idea that trainers just spend their free time judging the rest of us. Boo.

    • says

      Eh, I think maybe you just need to relax a little and learn to not take things so seriously and personally. It’s playful jokey language used to get a point across, not insult. You’re one of the very few people who take it the insulting way. Most people laugh and move on.

      In fact, if you look around this site long enough, you’ll see plenty of instances of me referring to myself as a dumbass for doing some of the stupid stuff I’ve done.

  8. Hernan says

    Is it normal to go up 2-5lbs during the week of the process? Cause I weigh 125 and go up to 127 and then go down to 124 and then back up…

  9. Kathy says

    Thank u very much. Finally, an answer my brain can work with! I’ve weighed-in at every option u mentioned (& prob a few other ones.) I’ve just started my last Weight Loss Journey. Why last? Because im not going thru this again. This time, no matter HOW LONG it takes, im just gonna eat smart & work my butt off until i get to my body healthy & fit. I dont even have a “due date” this time. I weigh 240 lbs and hope to lose 170. According to a bmi thing i’ve always done. (I wish those things would ask how old we are.) Im a little person. Standing @ 4’4″ @ 28 years old. So anyway, the weight’s gotta go; my daughter isnt gonna lose her mother just b/c I couldnt control what i put in my mouth or how often im active. (Hello; my name is Kathy & im a Couch Potatoe.) So i’ve mainly started off walking 20-30 mins a day (once or twice a day depending on my schedule for that day), & replacing my daily 2 liter of dr pepper w/ a 2 liter of water (bring on the migraines! They arent any better drinking soda anyway.) Im super excited & hopeinv i will at least have lost 50-80 pounds “soon” (aka like within the year or two); just trying to be realistic w/o losing enthusiasm; either number will make me plenty happy :-)
    So here’s my question: when i weigh-in when i first wake up, it makes more sense to me if i do it after i void my bladder & colon, right? I cant hold it anyway & i’d be lighter im sure :p
    Thank u so much in advance for even taking the time to consider my little story & question & pls have a great day! (A response would be great but i think thats what ima do anyway, no offense.)

    • says

      Hell yeah Kathy! That really is the mindset you need. It really comes down to figuring out what needs to be done, and then just doing it no matter how hard it is or how long it takes.

      As for your question, yup… taking care of whatever bathroom activities are ready to take care of before weighing in is definitely the right thing to do.

      Keep me updated!

  10. Sarah says

    Hey this is great! But im stuck. (Sry.) I weigh 236 too (popular # haha). So i did a trial math problem. Lets say i dont lose any weight this week or just a lb. At week one: 236+236+235+235+235+234+234=1645
    1645/7=235
    Week two: 234+233+233+232+233+231+322=1628
    1628/7= 232.57
    235-232.57= lost 2.43lbs in two weeks, yes?

    Sry for the redunancy. I just super hate math & wanna make sure i got it right. Thx!

  11. Sarah says

    I double checked the example i gave u & i saw i made a simple mistake. So i got the math wrong but i do understand HOW to get the avg.
    But ur explanation leaves me a lil depressed :/
    From 236 to 232 is 4 lbs.
    But according to u, i didnt really lose 4. I lost the avg, right? Cuz of water or whatever; i dont care. Pounds are pounds. :) thx

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