Want to lose weight? Step on the scale daily

Want to lose weight? Step on the scale daily

Stepping on the scale daily and tracking your progress may be the best way for dieters to successfully lose weight and keep it off, according to a new study.

Researchers from Cornell University found that study participants who weighed themselves daily and charted their results lost significantly more weight than those who did not. They were also able to keep the weight off.

Obesity is a chronic, lifelong condition and must be addressed as such through lifelong changes,” says Dr. Shane Fogo, an Advocate Medical Group family medicine physician at Advocate Eureka Hospital in Eureka, Ill.  “Keeping track of your weight daily not only helps to confirm if your weight loss plan is working, but helps you monitor for potential weight gain once you have reached your weight loss goal.”

Daily self-weighing and tracking “forces you to be aware of the connection between your eating and your weight,” lead study author David Levitsky said in a news release. “It used to be taught that you shouldn’t weigh yourself daily, and this is just the reverse.”

The researchers found that self-weighing and tracking are simple ways to reinforce and strengthen positive behaviors such as eating less and maintaining regular exercise.

“You just need a bathroom scale and an Excel spreadsheet, or even a piece of graph paper,” said Levitsky.

Dr. Fogo offers some other tips for successful weight loss:

  • Don’t skip meals altogether. Going a long time between meals may slow your metabolic rate and make it harder for you to lose weight.
  • Getting a good, restful night of sleep is key. The stress from chronic fatigue will make it difficult to commit to long-term dietary changes and exercise routines.
  • Exercise. Meaningful calorie burn through exercise takes time. It takes consistent effort and dedication to regular exercise to get into shape to a point where longer, more intense activities will yield higher calorie burn.
  • Avoid high calorie beverages. People often don’t realize how many calories they are drinking daily through energy drinks, soda, sports drinks or coffee drinks such as mochas, lattes and cappuccinos. These can easily contain anywhere from 150 to 500 calories or more per drink.

“Obesity has become probably the most significant preventable health risk factor today,” says Dr. Fogo. “Studies have shown that the effects of obesity may now cause more health problems than smoking.”

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  1. There isn’t a direct correlation between what you eat one day and what you’ll weigh the next. It depends on a lot of factors, such as when and how much you most recently eliminated, where you are in your bodily cycles (especially for women), water retention, muscle gain or loss, etc. Weighing in every day is a sure way to drive yourself crazy, especially if you’re exercising more than you’re dieting. Weighing in every week is worse because you’ll play games with yourself. For example, if Wednesday is your weigh-in day, you’ll eat like a horse Wednesday evening through maybe Saturday, then starve yourself until the next weigh-in, which is really bad for metabolism (not to mention general health). Really, you shouldn’t focus on the number on the scale because it should be about how you feel, what you’re able to do, your energy level, quality of life, and maybe even how your clothes are fitting. If you absolutely must weigh-in, once a month is the maximum.

    • Couldn’t agree more! You will drive yourself crazy!

    • I mostly agree with you, Dienne. I was getting on the scale every day, and man, that needle just wasn’t moving. I was eating less, exercising a lot more, and seeing no results on the scale. So, with me being me (lol), I stopped looking at the scale because it was frustrating me. I haven’t looked at the scale in a couple of weeks, but I know my clothes are fitting better and I feel stronger. For me, that’s all that really matters. I guess ultimately we all have to figure out what motivates us to stay healthy and commit to it.

  2. Hi,
    Did the study take into account other factors besides weight as an overall indicator of health? Body composition? The article indicated those who weighed daily kept weight off. How much longer did they keep it off? How long was the study? And what about women during certain times of the month?
    Truthfully, as someone who’s lost 80# and continue to keep it off after 15 years weighing daily is NOT very helpful. Keeping a food and exercise journal is much more useful in maintaining healthy lifestyle. The scale doesn’t tell a whole lot. The number could be going down but it could be precious muscle that’s being lost. Inevitably, that’s what it is when people “go on a diet.” Of course I’m one person and this my opinion not a research study conducted by a respected university. I just hate to see the myth of the scale perpetuated.

  3. And after looking at the study, it really doesn’t say much. The experimental group was given an intervention that included weighing in daily and monitoring caloric intake. The control group was told that they would be given that intervention in a year and in the meantime given no intervention at all. Well of course people who received intervention lost more weight and kept it off better than people given no intervention. Hardly earth-shaking. But we need a lot more studies on exactly what type of intervention is best. This study could have, for instance, compared people who weighed in daily with people who weighed in weekly, monthly and quarterly and people who received feedback without weighing in at all. Then maybe you’d have grounds to talk about the benefits of daily weigh-ins (but probably not).

    BTW, why is a public affairs and marketing guy writing an article about weight loss? His expertise is, what, exactly?

  4. Weighing yourself daily does not seem to make sense at all because like Dienne said, the scale won’t reflect true wieght loss. It’s better to just be concious of calorie, sodium and sugar intake daily. With healthy eating decisions and regular exercise, the weight management will come!

  5. Rosemary Mueller
    Rosemary Mueller, MPH, RD, LDN June 23, 2015 at 1:27 pm · Reply

    As a dietitian for Advocate Weight Management with significant previous experience in the treatment of eating disorders, I feel there is definitely a subset of the population who should not be weighing themselves on a daily basis. As previously and correctly noted by other commentors, scale weight is reflective of far more than (daily) adipose tissue changes. The emotional roller-coaster of daily weigh-ins can be indeed detrimental for some – and women in particular. Our program emphasizes a weekly weigh-in and accountability through six imperatives, which include: a weekly clinic visit, monitoring food consumption, exercise and mood; getting 7-9 hours sleep/night, proper hydration, following a balanced meal plan and daily exercise. For those interested in exploring our program, please contact: 847 990-5770.

  6. Everyone ,s comments have validity to them however ,I believe the weighing of yourself daily kind of help you to be mindful of your weight so that you can make the proper adjustments reguardless of your condition , before your weight gets out of hand. this method has helped me. But everyone is different, what works for one person may NOT work for the next person. weighing myself daily did not drive me crazy but motivated me to continue on my weight loss journey ,which yielded me 20 pounds lighter so far. so I say just do what works for you ,know one person is right here or wrong ,because we ALL are diffrent and have different physical conditions , personalities and tolerance levels.

    Stay healthy
    Ms. Rita

  7. I remember I weighed myself daily for years and friends and family always asked me how I’d stayed the same weight my adult life. I didn’t actually think about linking it to my daily scale routine till a woman about 20 years older than myself said she did the same and that was what kept her in shape most of her life. Since I stopped weighing myself often my weight has gone up about 10 lbs and stayed the same. I would say that definitely, psychologically, when you see your weight every morning, the tendency is to be more mindful of what and how much you’re eating. It really should be a daily process as I believe that managing one’s weight is effective when it’s about the mind and body working together. With this research study I’m now convinced that it is a huge factor in keeping a healthy weight. Obviously there are other factors involved in weight gain/loss like health problems, personal willpower etc and this by no means a magical solution. Nevertheless I definitely think it’s something healthy to adopt just to be aware of one’s daily choices with regards to food in particular.

  8. Hello Carla,
    I am starting a diet and exercise program. I have not decided to weigh myself. The last I looked at my Driver’s license it showed 150 but weighed in at the doctor’s at 170. Somebody once said that it wouldn’t be so bad if you could read the scale standing on, that is, it was not blocked by your gut. Just kidding. In any event my objective is to loose inches, the scale might come latter.

  9. I 100% agree on daily weighing and am finally glad to see an article supporting this. I think what some of the critics are missing is (and the article didn’t really detail this unfortunately) – don’t freak out over the daily variation. Look at the averages and trends over the week (they do say chart it).

    The problem with a weekly weighing is, you now have that variation in a single reading, and it takes on too much importance. You might be gaining weight over the week, but if the previous reading was on the high end, and then this week is on the low end, your numbers tell you are losing or staying the same. Then next week, the measurements might swing the other way! That is what will drive you crazy! You will be responding to the wrong things!

    I come from a technical background and specialized in measurement equipment. Trust me, when the thing you measure varies for any reason, you take *more* readings, not fewer. Then you average those readings, or simply throw out the high/low and take the middle reading for that week. That will be a far better reflection of reality. This is how it is done in the scientific/engineering world, and it really makes sense to use it in this case.

    Another thing you can look for week-to-week, you should generally see lower highs for the week, and lower lows. That’s another indication that you are on the right track.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.