Health and FItness coaches often get asked; When should I weigh myself? How often should I weigh myself? And, what’s causing my weight to fluctuate?

This post will answer those questions, and explain how the number on the scale is only one of many variables that can help determine progress.

First things first, “When should you weigh yourself?”

For the most accurate weight, the best time to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach after you’ve emptied your bladder. Wear the same clothing each time or your birthday suit. This will ensure the measuring of your body weight is accurate and consistent. 

It’s important that you always use the same scale, in the same spot, on a flat smooth surface. Believe it or not, different spots in the house can affect your scale. An uneven surface, tile, or carpet can result in different numbers.

Secondly, “How often should you weigh yourself?”

If your goal involves losing weight or gaining muscle mass, we recommend weighing yourself at least once a week.

You will want to do this on the same day each week so it is consistent. For example, weighing yourself first thing Sunday morning on an empty stomach and then weighing yourself again on Thursday after dinner will give you two very different measurements. 

“What about weighing yourself every day?”

Weighing yourself daily or more frequently can be beneficial because it provides good data. It allows you to understand how your body is responding to certain variables. 

However, for some people, daily weigh-ins can be the culprit for negative emotions when they fixate on the number on the scale as your main measurement of success. This can be de-motivating and causes a lot of people to give up when there are several variables that may be contributing to the weight fluctuations which will cover ahead.

So the bottom line is, that if weighing yourself daily results in negative feelings towards your health journey we recommend doing it less frequently.  But, if weighing yourself more frequently helps and motivates you then daily weigh-ins are perfectly fine.

Now, let’s talk about what might be causing your weight to fluctuate.  

There are several reasons that could cause your weight to go up, or come down that might surprise you. The body is made of over 70% water. This is why one of the most common reasons for a fluctuation in weight gain is water retention. 

Here is a list of reasons that cause weight fluctuations on a day-to-day basis.

  • Sodium: You ate a higher sodium meal or treat meal the night before. Consuming more salt than normal will contribute to temporary water retention. Which could add a couple of extra pounds to the scale.
  • Carbohydrates: Every gram of carbohydrate you consume holds close to 3-grams of water. If you consume more or fewer carbs than usual, you may see fluctuations on the scale.  
  • Alcohol: Alcohol is an inflammatory substance, meaning it tends to cause swelling in the body. After a night of drinking, you may notice bloating in your face or body.
  • Water Intake: If you are dehydrated, your body will respond by releasing hormones that hold on to water as a safety mechanism to prevent dehydration. 
  • Digestion: You experience a fluctuation in weight gain if you’re experiencing issues with digestion and bowel movement frequency.
  • Menstrual Cycle: Due to a change in hormones your body will retain water the week before or during your cycle.  This can be anywhere from 2-8 pounds. 
  • Sleep: The longer you sleep, the longer you fast and your body dehydrates through respiration or going to the bathroom. If you sleep 3 hours one night versus your typical 8, you’ll very likely weigh more when you wake up.
  • Workouts: An intense workout the day before causes your muscles to become inflamed and result in extra fluid stored. Legs in particular because they are such a large muscle group. 
  • Medication: Some medications have side effects on weight gain, inflammation or water retention. Always ask your doctor about the side effects of the medicines you take, both prescription and over-the-counter.
  • Supplements: Certain supplements such as Creatine are known to retain fluid in your muscles.
  • Stress: Whether or not stress causes short-term weight fluctuation is debatable. However, there are a multitude of reasons why chronic levels of high stress will lead to weight gain in the long term.

Another thing to always keep in mind: FAT LOSS vs. WEIGHT LOSS

The scale is a measurement of your total body weight, which includes your whole body; your bones, organs, blood, fluids. The typical scale does not measure your body fat, which is why it is important to use other forms of measurements when tracking your progress and your body composition, such as body fat percentage, measuring inches in certain areas, how your clothes are fitting, and taking weekly progress photos. 

If you are including strength training in your weekly routine, then you will be gaining some weight in muscle mass, however; this will ultimately aid in fat loss!

The bottom line: Don’t let the scale trick you! Focus on all areas of progress, like your energy and mood, how your clothes are fitting, lowered stress and anxiety, your increased strength and endurance, and ultimately how you feel! Remember, that number on the scale does not determine your worth and other progress you may have made. 

So many victories are non-scale related. 

Book a call with our Wellness Coordinator to learn more