When Should You Weigh Yourself to Accurately Track Weight Loss?

Whether you wish to drop a few pounds or you are simply trying to gain an accurate snapshot of your health, achieving consistent measurements is key.

Newsweek spoke to experts about when to weigh yourself to accurately track weight loss and fluctuations over time.

When Is the Best Time to Weigh Yourself?

Eating behavior change coach, Sarah Wall, believes consistency is key when deciding when to weigh yourself.

She told Newsweek: "Most people prefer to weigh themselves first thing in the morning before they have eaten or drunk anything as its when most of us are at our lightest in the day.

"It's not uncommon for people to be weighed in the evening at weight loss groups. Either way, the idea is to track weight loss weekly for accurate tracking."

Carolina Mountford, an eating disorder expert and mental health advocate, agrees telling Newsweek: "Measuring yourself at the same time of day each week is more important than the time of day when it comes to tracking weight loss."

Female checking kilogrammes getting on the scale
Female checking kilogrammes getting on the scale. One of the first things you do when you go to the doctor for your annual physical is step on the scale fabrycs/Getty Images

Wall also notes it's normal for women's weight to fluctuate according to which week of their menstrual cycle they're in.

Wall said: "Many women find they may retain water in the run-up to and during their period and weigh a couple of pounds more than usual."

"For truly accurate weight loss tracking, a woman would want to look at weight during each week of their cycle over a couple of months for consistent weight loss tracking."

"The best way to measure yourself for weight loss, as a woman, is using a tape measure to measure your waist across your belly button and hips across the bony bit followed by weighing scales and dress size."

However, Daniel Herman, Bio-Synergy fitness ambassador, states, while body weight can fluctuate throughout the day, "scales may show higher or lower numbers depending on the time of day when a person uses them."

He told Newsweek: "Scales can serve as a guide to weight loss. Studies have shown that people who weighed themselves six to seven times a week instead of only once a week showed an increase in weekly weight loss."

Plus size woman measuring waist with tape
The number you see on the scale is the sum of your lean body mass, including muscle, organs, bones, water, blood—and fat mass. Prostock-Studio/Getty Images

Should You Weigh Yourself?

Mountford, an eating disorder expert advises people to shun the scales altogether for peace of mind.

She told Newsweek: "Our relationship with scales and numbers can all too easily take a turn and become incredibly destructive.

"It can, in some cases, just tip someone who may be close to developing an eating disorder over the edge or in someone with a history of eating disorders whose recovery is still fragile, lure them back in.

If you have been affected by disordered eating or similar issues then Mountford suggests instead judging your progress by how your clothes feel instead of the numbers on the scale.

Herman also agreed that weight is not the only indicator of health.

"A person's fluid intake, activity level, and hormones can all influence the number on the scales even if they weigh themselves at the same time each day."

It also worth remembering if you are also exercising then you could be gaining muscle which weighs more than fat.

Josh Davies, a personal trainer at Aimee Victoria Long, also told Newsweek: "You don't always have to obsess over the scales to notice you're losing weight.'

How to Measure Yourself for Weight Loss

If you not concerned by the matters mentioned above, Damien Coates, founder of The Lean Body Project and best-selling author of book The Lean Body Solution, advises his clients to "weigh every day to track the average weight loss trend."

He told Newsweek: "Weigh yourself first thing in the morning, after going to the toilet and before eating or drinking anything.

"Your weight will fluctuate and isn't a straight line, just like with any successful journey. So understanding your trends is key to measuring weight loss."

A lady measuring her waist with tape
A woman measuring her waist with tape. Studies show people generally gain two-thirds of the weight back within two years of weight loss Prostock-Studio/Getty Images

Weight Loss Measuring Tips

PT Josh Davies and author Coates provided their key tips to measure weight loss.

  • Weigh yourself first thing in the morning.
  • Do it naked.
  • Stick to the same time of the day.
  • Make sure you use the same set of scales, in the same position.
  • Track your weight every day on Happy Scale (iOS) or Libra (android).

Coates said: "These apps give you a moving average."

Davies said: "Just make sure you stick to the same day and the same time each week when weighing yourself. I say each week but that doesn't have to be the case.

"It could be every other week or it could be once a month. But to get a good idea if you are reaching your goals, it's important to keep as many factors the same when weighing in."

If you identify with the themes mentioned in this article, confidential help is available for free at the National Eating Disorders Association. Call (800) 931-2237 or text text "NEDA" to 741741. The line is available 24 hours, every day. You can also chat to them online here.

Specialists from the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation are also available via email. You can contact them here.

A leg stepping on weigh scales
Fat loss is a slow process and dramatic weight loss doesn’t happen on a daily basis. spukkato/Getty Images