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Health Hub

The best time to weigh yourself for accurate results

Understanding how to read your scales can be really important.

This Is the Best Time to Weigh Yourself | Juniper

When trying to lose weight, we can often find ourselves in a contentious new relationship with our bathroom scales.

Whether we're watching the dial wobble or the digital number jump, standing tense and with our weight evenly distributed on that square, flat surface can often leave us with more questions than it should.

Maybe the number on the scale has gone up (did you really gain weight?) or maybe it's telling you you've lost weight when you know you had seconds of that chocolate cake last night, or, if you're weighing yourself daily, it's indicating weight fluctuations that just don't make sense.

Figuring out your most accurate weight reading can often feel like its own sort of science, but understanding how to read your scales can be really important when it comes to navigating your weight loss journey and forming new healthy habits.

So how can you make sense of weekly weigh-ins? And how do you make sure that the information you're collecting about your body is an exact reflection of that body?

Why your body composition matters

Your body is, in many ways, the sum of its parts, and that’s what the concept of body composition captures. It’s the percentage of fat, bone, and muscle in your body, and it can be crucial not just in assessing your overall health, but in getting an understanding of yourself, your habits, and what your unique fitness journey can look like.

After all, weight loss is more than just a smaller number on the scales, especially given muscular tissue is denser than fat tissue [2]. In other words, 2 people can be the same height and weight but their body compositions can be different. One person might have a higher body fat percentage while the other has a higher muscle mass percentage.

Your body composition also changes as you get older. Naturally, your body fat percentage increases as your muscle mass decreases, making for age-related weight gain. As a result, having a real understanding of the role age plays in weight becomes important in shaping your body as you get older.

When should you weigh yourself for the most accurate results?

Self-weighing is often identified as an important part of weight loss, but what exactly does that look like? And how often should you do it?

While there is certainly research that indicates better times and ways to do it, the most important thing to remember is to be consistent. Body weight fluctuates not just on a weekly basis, but sometimes by the hour, so weighing yourself before breakfast on a Sunday and after dinner on a Tuesday isn’t necessarily going to accurately reflect your progress.

One of the best things you can do to achieve this is to keep a journal where you record not just your weight, but also the day of the week and time you’re weighing yourself, as you work towards a specific and achievable weight loss goal [3].

At what time of the day are you heaviest?

Generally speaking, people are at their heaviest after eating a meal and at their lightest after strenuous exercise where they sweat out their water weight. That means you’ll get the most accurate read of your weight first thing in the morning before you’ve had a chance to eat or burn off too much of the day's energy [4].

Should you pee before you weigh yourself?

You should! In fact, not only should you urinate, but you should make sure you take off your clothes and shoes too. Research has found that this is the way to get the most accurate reading of your body weight [4].

How often should you weigh yourself?

Frequent self-weighing has long been associated with positive weight loss and weight maintenance, with many studies finding that daily weigh-ins can lead to the best outcomes. Consistent daily documentation helps you to see patterns and keep your health and habits front of mind [1].

That said, weighing yourself every day has also been found to have psychological impacts that can have a negative effect on mood, and trigger anxiety, depression or negative thoughts [5]. In these cases, weekly weigh-ins can be a less onerous way to track weight loss, helping you focus more on creating your new, healthier lifestyle.

What day of the week is best?

If you’re weighing yourself weekly, research shows that we’re generally at our heaviest on a Sunday night and at our lightest on a Friday morning, so weighing in before breakfast on a Wednesday can give us the most accurate reading of our current weight [6].

This sort of mid-week check-in can also help us focus our habits ahead of the weekend, reminding us to do some weekend meal planning, make that trip to the farmer's market, book that Pilates class or go for a swim at the beach before catching up with friends.

How weighing yourself can affect your mental health

When creating new habits or changing our lifestyle, we tend to want to see the results faster than they may appear. In many cases, the number on the scales can be a reminder that progress can take longer than we hoped, and in some cases, weight gain can feel like an insurmountable setback. That can, of course, affect a person’s mood.

Many studies have found that regular weigh-ins stir feelings about weight and self-image, and in serious cases can aggravate self-esteem issues, anxiety, depression, and disordered eating [5].

That said, there are also many studies that have found a positive relationship between mental health and self-weighing, with many finding that tracking progress fills some with a sense of accomplishment and progress.

At the end of the day, being aware of your own mental health and trigger points is really important, and speaking to your healthcare provider about ways to monitor your weight in a way that leaves you feeling your best is recommended.

The number on the scale isn't the only determining factor

Losing weight and maintaining that weight loss in a healthy, sustainable way isn’t just about dropping kilograms, it’s about building good habits and crafting a lifestyle that supports your health, fitness, and wellbeing.

Creating the changes that leave you feeling like your best self can be hard to manage on your own, which is why Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme focuses not just on helping you to lose weight, but giving you the personalised plan, support, and tools to get there, including a smart scale to track your biometric health.

When calibrated correctly, scales are vital resources in helping you to track not just your weight, but the progress you're making on the way to a healthier, happier, more confident you.