We all know that our weight can fluctuate on a daily basis. But did you know that these daily fluctuations are actually normal and nothing to worry about? Our weight can be affected by many factors, including what we eat, how much water we drink, our hormone levels, and even how much we exercise.
So if you step on the scales and see that you’ve gained a few pounds, don’t panic! It’s probably just a temporary increase and your weight will soon return to normal. Of course, if you’re concerned about your weight or health, feel free to speak to one of our Personal Trainers for free. But rest assured that daily fluctuations in weight are perfectly normal. So don’t stress about it!
In this blog, we’ll be looking at the following:
Before we look at the evidence on daily weighing, it is important to understand the difference between these two questions:
Does weighing yourself each day help you lose weight?
This means looking at the average impact of daily weighing in randomized trials, where one group was assigned to daily weighing and the other group wasn’t.
Will weighing yourself each day help YOU lose weight by better understand daily fluctuations in weight?
This means looking at how daily fluctuations in weight might impact ‘you’ specifically if you are looking to bolster your weight loss efforts.
To answer these questions, let’s look at some studies on daily fluctuations in weight. These studies were randomized, which means that the people in them were chosen at random to do one thing or another. We’ll then look at what the scale is telling us and see how it applies to individual people.
Do weight changes on your scale translate to fat loss (or gain)?
No, your scale will not tell you about fat tissue changes over a short 24-hour time scale. It will tell you about four other things: your pooping, peeing, carb intake, and blood volume. Blood volume won’t change, so let’s focus on the other factors.
The daily fluctuations in weight can be due to the weight of your poop and pee which can vary a lot from person to person. Actually, the weight of someone’s poop changes a lot from day to day. It can be as little as 15 grams or as much as 1.5 kg (0.03 pounds to 3.3 pounds). This is because people who weigh more tend to eat more, and the type of food someone eats can also affect their poop weight.
Urine output can also vary a lot, from around 0.6 kg to 2.6 kg (1.3 pounds to 5.7 pounds), depending on how hydrated you are.
The reason why you are supposed to weigh yourself after waking up and going to the bathroom is that your weight can change a lot during the day because of these large variations in how much you poop and pee.
The main difference between people’s weight day-to-day is glycogen (carbs) storage. This is the amount of glycogen in your liver and muscles. Eating low-carb for around three days can make your glycogen levels go down by two-thirds. This can really affect how much you weigh, because glycogen can make up around 5-10% of the weight of your liver, and 2% of the weight of your muscles.
So your scale weight can be largely affected by how many carbs you eat each day. This is because the average person has around 500 grams of glycogen stored in their muscles and liver. But if someone stores more than 1000 grams, their scale weight will be higher.
If you gained or lost a pound or two in the last day, it doesn’t mean that you lost or gained any bodyfat. It just means that you might have pooped, peed, and had some extra glycogen (carbohydrates).
What do daily weighing studies show?
Good news for people who want to track their daily fluctuations in weight! Wi-Fi scales make it easy for people to track their daily fluctuations in weight without having to study the center of the scales each day. Plus, these scales are more accurate and so the studies that use them are more accurate than older studies that involved people self-recording their daily fluctuations in weight each morning.
So let’s focus on a recent wifi scale trial that had great results. The WEIGH trial was randomized and controlled, and the results were fascinating.
The study found that people who weighed themselves every day lost around 6 kg (13 pounds) more than the control group over six months.
People who weighed themselves often (like five times a week) lost less weight than the people who weighed themselves every day.
People who checked their daily fluctuations in weight every day were more likely to do things related to weight loss, like eating less fast food or watching less television.
This study didn’t measure how much body fat people lost, but it’s likely that they lost a lot of fat with their weight loss.
Now before you run off to weigh yourself, there are some things you should know…
A word of warning
If only we could just tell everyone to weigh themselves every day and the obesity crisis would be solved. But there are some things you need to know before you try this.
If you weigh yourself every day and are losing weight, you will be happy. But if you eat too much one day, then you might not want to weigh yourself the next day.
This means that unless you are enrolled in a clinical trial, the pressure to stick to a protocol is much lower. So the results might not be as good.
Second; people often stop following their health habits over time. They may start out really excited to do things like mindfulness and calorie tracking, but eventually, they stop doing them as often. People can also start to view these habits in a negative light after a while. For example, they may think “I don’t think daily weighing worked anyway.”
This is where having a Personal Trainer can help as they help coach you through the challenges towards sustainable habit change and ultimately, sustainable weight loss.
Finally, some people might have negative psychological side effects from daily weighing. This might include disordered eating or lowered self-esteem. It is hard to know who is at risk for these problems. So far, there have been over twenty studies on self-weighing and psychological effects.
But the conclusions are not clear. It seems that females and younger people may be more likely to have these problems, while overweight people seeking weight-loss treatment may be less likely to experience them. However, most of this data is observational in nature, making it difficult to draw any firm conclusions.
So should YOU weigh yourself daily?
So, does daily weighing help or hinder weight loss success? The answer is a little bit of both. On one hand, seeing the number on the scale go down (or up) can be really motivating and provide feedback that you are doing something right (or wrong).
However, obsessively checking your daily fluctuations in weight each day can also lead to negative thoughts and emotions about your body image and eating habits, which may sabotage your efforts in the long run.
The bottom line is that you should try self-weighing to see how it affects you. You should do this for a few weeks in a row to see if it works for you. The best study so far showed great results (13 pounds of weight loss over six months). So if you have trouble sticking to a healthy eating plan, consider trying self-weighing every day. It has been shown to work better than most other interventions.
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