Does Tracking Your Weight Help Or Hinder Weight Loss?

Does regularly weighing ourself help with weight loss, or weight maintenance? The answer depends on how we use the information our bathroom scale gives us.

According to research and expert opinion, weighing-in two or more times each week can help if we view our bathroom scale objectively, as a useful tool for tracking body mass. However, scales can become a detriment when its numbers stir negative feelings, cause us to feel bad about ourselves, or become a preoccupation.

Upside of Tracking

In The Mayo Clinic Diet Book, it’s suggested that people weigh themselves just twice each week, and keep a record. The book explains that checking more often can provide an inaccurate, and sometimes discouraging picture of our progress owed to daily weight fluctuations.

However, recent studies indicate that daily weigh-ins can help people shed pounds. This is particularly true when the weigh-ins are coupled with weight-loss education and support. Regular tracking may help individuals cultivate, and adhere to meaningful weight loss behaviors as well.

A 2015 Cornell University study, for instance, found frequent self-weighing, and tracking the results on a chart effectively helped people lose weight—and keep it off. Tracking weight “forces you to be aware of the connection between your eating and your weight,” said researcher David Levitsky, a Cornell professor. “It used to be taught that you shouldn’t weigh yourself daily and this is just the reverse.”

The Cornell investigators believe that frequent weight-tracking reinforces certain healthy behaviors, such as eating less, or going for walks. They also suggest the scale functions as a priming mechanism, making people more conscious of their food and activity choices.

Downside of Tracking

Unfortunately, though weight-tracking can enhance diet and activity awareness, it may not motivate some individuals, and can trigger harmful preoccupations in others.

If hopping on the scale and recording weight is a continuous source of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, dread, sadness, or self-loathing it will naturally be counterproductive for weight management. The dietary restraint generated by tracking weight can then spiral down into a depression, disordered eating habits, or other body-image related conditions.

Constant weight checking is one sign that medical professionals look for in people with eating or body-image disorders. Yet, the problem is not engaging in frequent weight checks, it’s feeling driven to do them. The scale’s read-out becomes a distressing preoccupation that may in turn dictate how many bites of food can be eaten, or how many hours of exercise are required.

When weight and food become an obsession, the bathroom scale is no longer a positive, objective tool for awareness, but a negative, subjective assessment of self-worth.

A Better Question

Because weight-tracking can affect each of us differently, there is no pat answer for whether it’s beneficial. It seems the question to ask ourselves is, “Do regular weigh-ins help me stick to my diet and exercise goals, generating progress and positive feelings?” If yes, we may want to invest in a quality bathroom scale and take advantage of its accurate feedback.

If our answer is no, because scales and numbers just don’t motivate us, we might experiment with other ways of staying on track, such as being accountable to a friend or family member for what we consume each day. If the answer is no because food and weight are a distressing preoccupation, getting help from our doctor, and mental health professionals is recommended.

Sources: Cornell News; Obesity Society / Online Library; Healthy Living Matters; Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: Franck Mahon

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

Limiting our intake of highly processed foods, and eating more whole and lightly processed fare can boost our nutrient and fiber intake, lower...

Chamomile tea has long been prized for its calming properties, but few people realize it’s also beneficial for glucose regulation. Traditionally,...

Today, the healing benefits of essential oils are more than the claims of ancient tradition and alternative medicine. They are increasingly the...

The different sugar content of fruits can be confusing when you are trying to manage your...

There is nothing close to a one-size-fits-all exercise program for those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The best general advice is to...

More Articles

Keeping your blood sugar levels under control can be tough. There are so many factors that can affect blood sugar, like exercise, food, illness,...

Today, the healing benefits of essential oils are more than the claims of ancient tradition and alternative medicine. They are increasingly the...

Stomach aches and other gastrointestinal pains can be signs of a bigger problem. One such problem for diabetics is gastroparesis, or delayed...

Two of the most common symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst and increased urine production. These symptoms are so prevalent in diabetics that...

The different sugar content of fruits can be confusing when you are trying to manage your...

Most people with insulin-dependent diabetes use syringes and lancets every day. However, many of them do not know how to dispose of these...

Diabetes is a complex disease, affecting virtually every part of the body. The damage it does, to nerve endings, blood vessels, organs, and the...

People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes have successfully competed in the Olympic Games. Their amazing stories prove that diabetes is no match for...

Explaining diabetes to children can seem like a daunting task, but in reality, it is no more difficult than discussing anything else important....

If your child has diabetes, you want him or her to be safe while in school and to have the same educational opportunities as other children....

The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 7 million people in the United States have diabetes but don’t know it yet. These people...

Do not let pictures of yoga experts with their bodies twisted into bizarre, compact shapes fool you. Even people with stiff muscles, creaky joints...

While some celebrities aren't quick to talk about living with diabetes, others are quite transparent and inspiring - acting as advocates for the...

People with diabetes are about twice as likely to experience heart disease as those without the condition, making cardiovascular health a critical...

All diabetics know that maintaining proper blood sugar levels is the lifeline...