DIETING
December 24, 2014

Weigh In with Yourself

Getting on the scale isn't always good news, but it is a wonderful motivator and helps keep diets on track.

With the New Year upon us, thoughts of losing weight begin to take shape in the minds of many. Over the past year, we’ve written about which diets works best, what foods help with weight-loss, and when you should eat for successful weight-loss.

And, yes, there’s an app for weight-loss, too!

All of this information will help you if you are contemplating a resolution to lose weight in the coming year. And now recent research has revealed the effectiveness of one strategy that, while not new, goes against the recommendations of popular weight-loss programs.

How often you step on the scale has a big effect on how much weight you lose, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.

Wednesday is the day most people weigh the least, and is a good day to choose for a weekly weigh-in to get the most accurate readings.

Researchers in Finland looked at 40 people with a BMI of 25 or above who expressed concern about their weight or said that they were trying to lose weight. They analyzed just over 2,800 weight measurements from the group.

They found the more often a person steps on the scale, the more weight they lose. On average, a person could go 5.8 days between weigh-ins and not gain weight. Going longer than a week without weighing contributed to weight gain, especially if a person neglected to weigh at least monthly, according to lead author, Elina Helander from Tempere University of Technology in Finland.

Let’s make it clear that this is an observational study and doesn’t prove that weighing more often causes greater weight loss. If only! It may be that people who aren’t that serious about dieting weigh themselves less often or those who stop losing weight stop avoid stepping on the scale at all.

The researchers recommend that dieters weigh themselves once a week to support their efforts to lose weight, and say that daily weigh-ins could help you stay on track. Though truth be told, it’s unlikely that things are going to change from day to day; however, if it helps you stay focused on your goal, do it.

Many weight-loss plans suggest limiting scale time to once a week or less often. They say weighing daily can be discouraging because of normal weight fluctuations. While daily weigh-ins may not be for everyone, there are people who may need the accountability of checking their weight every day to keep them on track.

The same research team found that weight fluctuations are normal and, in fact, follow a pretty clear pattern. We weigh more on the weekends and less during the week. According to their findings, Wednesday is the day most people weigh the least, and is a good day to choose for a weekly weigh-in to get the most accurate readings.

Don't be discouraged when the changes showing up on your scale seem small. A healthy weight-loss is one to two pounds a week. It took a while to put on those pounds and it will take at least as long to get them off — a process that requires eating fewer calories, increasing physical activity, and modifying behaviors (like snacking in front of the television or in the car) that cause weight gain.

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