How You Weigh Yourself Matters

Paul L. Underwood
by Paul L. Underwood
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How You Weigh Yourself Matters

The children’s television host Mister Rogers famously weighed himself every day after going for a swim. Such was his consistency in diet and exercise that, every day, he weighed exactly 143 pounds. (A total that tickled him, because the numbers 1-4-3 correspond to how many letters are in the phrase, “I love you.” Classic Mister Rogers right there.)

We can’t all be Mister Rogers for many reasons, but the anecdote might make you wonder: How often should you weigh yourself, anyway? Should you, like Fred Rogers, do so right after vigorous exercise, or is there another time of day that’s best? What should you do if your results are something other than the exact same thing every day? Oh, and what kind of scale should you use? And hey, Mister Rogers was a pretty slight fellow, huh?

We’ve answered these questions below. (OK, maybe not that last one.)


First and foremost, if your aim is to lose (or gain) weight, the most important thing is consistency. That includes using the same scale every day — even if the number may be a little off, it should still be accurate in terms of weight loss or gain.

That said, you should still aim for accuracy. The simplest way to calibrate a scale is to remove everything from it, and then make sure the read out is exactly 0.0 pounds.

Because this is 2019, you can buy a scale with Wi-Fi that syncs to your favorite health-tracking app and devices. These scales might also permit you to register multiple users, so you and anyone else in your home can track your progress seamlessly. Some also measure additional things like body fat. Whether you need all that is up to you.


What matters most is consistency. You don’t want to compare how much you weigh in the afternoon right after lunch to how much you weigh first thing in the morning when you’ve gone several hours without food. Your weight can fluctuate nearly 10 pounds over the course of a day (though a 2- to 5-pound variance is more typical), and you don’t want to mistake that for weight gain or loss.

That said, consider weighing yourself first thing in the morning after using the restroom. This is typically your longest gap between meals, so your weight won’t be affected by how much (or how little) you just ate. It’s also likely to be one of the easiest times of day for you to strip down and hop on the scale.


It can be tempting to weigh yourself right after a workout. You might be stripping down to shower, after all, and the scale is right there. But unless you work out exactly the same way every day, you won’t be getting a consistent read out. (In other words, you won’t be comparing like to like.) In addition, the scale won’t reflect your true weight. If you sweat a lot, for example, you’ll have lost water weight. (And if you overhydrate, you might actually gain water weight.) As we mentioned above, Mister Rogers would weigh himself after a swim, so this is one case where we can actually say not to imitate “The Cardiganed One.”

Now, if you’re tracking hydration, you’ll want to weigh yourself before a workout and again after the workout. For every pound lost, you’ll want to drink 16 ounces of water.


Simply put, you’re weighing yourself. Which means you should only weigh your self — with as little else as possible. Clothes add two or three pounds. Your shoes add another one or two. If possible, remove that uncertainty by removing your clothes and weigh yourself dry (no wet hair) for the most accurate reading. Because you wear different clothes and shoes every day, wearing them during weigh-ins also produces inconsistent results from day to day.


To a certain extent, how often you weigh yourself depends on why you’re weighing yourself. If, like Mister Rogers in the opening anecdote, you’re simply checking in, by all means, hit the scale every day. If, however, you’re aiming to shed pounds (or, perhaps, go the other way by adding muscle), you might be disappointed with the lack of day-to-day progress. Day-to-day measurements can also be noisy, affected by how much you did or didn’t eat the previous day or how much you did or didn’t exercise. If you’re committed to your goal, you don’t want to get discouraged (or encouraged) by a faulty number.

It really depends on what kind of goal-setter you are. But again, if you’re hoping to achieve a loss or gain, it might be better to monitor your progress week to week, month to month. If you want to weigh yourself every day for your own personal reasons, though, go ahead.


As you probably already know, there is good weight and there is bad weight. Two people can stand the same height and weigh the same amount, and be completely different in terms of their overall health. You should certainly consider talking with a doctor, a trainer or both before pursuing a high volume of weight loss or gain. But if you’ve done so and have a goal, keep all of the above in mind as you pursue it.

About the Author

Paul L. Underwood
Paul L. Underwood

Paul is a writer based in Austin, Texas. He tweets here, he Instagrams there and he posts the occasional deep thought at He’s probably working on a run mix as you read this.


10 responses to “How You Weigh Yourself Matters”

  1. Avatar Makai says:

    When I hop on the scale and it goes down I go “Sweet awesome! Gonna log this into My Fitness Pal!”

    When I weigh 3 pounds or less more than last time “Eh probably water weight.”

    When I weigh 5-10 pounds more than last time? “It’s fine let me get my diet to the bare essentials, and maybe see if I can work some fasting exercise days in.”

    I like to weigh myself every day, sometimes before and after a poo just for laughs. I’ll never let the scale get me down, because the scale isn’t insulting me. I learned how to lose weight and lost 100 pounds in about 6 months. I’d have to gain 30-50 pounds before the scale upsets me and at most I fluctuate 10 pounds, laugh, go back to my preferred dietary regimen and the pounds fall off again.

    The scale can’t hurt your feelings. If it stresses you out, you need to focus on eating healthy. In my opinion that is a high fat, low carb diet. Once you get healthier the weight will shed itself. People in wheel chairs are losing weight faster than people going to gyms. Don’t over exert yourself.

    Abs really are made in the kitchen. The weight loss before Keto, and after Keto are night and day. 4-5 pounds a month all the way to 10-12 pounds a month.

  2. Avatar ortonomy says:

    This is all great and everything, except once again MyFitnessPal and UnderArmour ignore 90% of the rest of the world by referring nonsense imperial measurements. Come on! Kilos and grams please for the 21st century!

  3. Avatar Callie Girl says:

    I weigh every morning. By doing so I’ve been able to see my weight loss rhythm. I tend to drop a pound or two then rise back up for days then drop again, rinse repeat. I only record the drops and have learned to ignore the rises as they can be all over the place being a hormonal peri-menopause woman. Were I to weigh only once a week, I might miss those drops and feel defeated. Zeroing in on only the drops has made the weight loss journey pleasant.

  4. Avatar Homo sapiens says:

    Overall, article is briliant. My compliments. I found myself in this daily routine. But I must agree, and really would not grab a calculator to convert pounds and ounces to metrics. It is so – ancient-Roman- like, IMHO.

  5. Avatar Jim Bullard says:

    Great article. When I was in college (too many years ago) I took swimming courses and just out of curiosity I ran an experiment to see what spending 45 minutes swimming did to my weight. I weighed myself dry in my Speedo, showered, swam for 35 minutes, dried myself off and reweighed myself on the same scale (a beam balance with sliding weights. The result of the experiment was that i consistently gained 5# in each class.
    During periods since then when I have been trying to lose weight I weigh myself nude and post-toilet in the morning as you describe but I find that even then my weight can fluctuate as much as 2-3 (occasionally more) pounds per day so I use 30 trends to judge my progress, not daily fluctuations.

  6. Avatar salbers says:

    Nearly everyone does not understand that scale weight is NOT body weight. Consider this. You weigh X pounds on first rising and then eat a 5 pound breakfast. So your after breakfast weight is X plus 5. Both measurements are scale weights. Which weight is body weight? Obviously the first is closer to the truth. The best way to obtain body weight is to fast for +24 hours, while relieving yourself of extra fluids and solids. This is better than trend weight which is merely a weighted average of a bunch of bad numbers. A weekly weighing Monday morning after a Sunday fast is an ideal way to track true body weight.

  7. Avatar Frank L Young says:

    I use a Withings (fka Nokia) WiFi scale every morning but only look at the longer term trends (represented by the thicker graph line) in the healthmate app once a week or so. Even though I’m at a 24 BMI and the long-term trend is pretty flat, daily excursions of 5+ pounds are not at all unusual.

  8. Avatar stoney says:

    I weigh each morning and each evening, This allows me to properly track my weight and determine how different foods and exercise impact my weigh both positively and negatively.

  9. Avatar B Rian says:

    I weigh myself daily but I only record on Sunday mornings before breakfast which is my last rest day before I start my next cycle. While I am losing weight I am not overly concerned with weight loss as my goal is to increase my lean muscle mass which can be misleading I you only track your goal via weight loss. I have my BMI and Body Fat % checked monthly which is a much better indicator of overall success. At least in my case.

  10. Avatar Golda Smith says:

    As a health coach I get asked this question a few times per week. My response is always “no, don’t weigh yourself everyday!”. Instead I encourage people to focus on developing the habits that will help them reach and maintain their goals. That’s much healthier in my opinion.

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