I see this done wrong all the time.
Someone at the gym will do a set, hop off their machine, step on the scale, then go back and do another set. Or, someone will step on a scale once, read the number, and then claim that as their weight for the next month.
There are a million wrong ways to weigh yourself and accurately track your progress. On the flip side, there’s only one truly accurate and reliable way to do it.
In this article, I’ll detail just that: The correct way to weigh yourself and track your progress.
How To Track Your Weight
The first part of this process is to understand when you should be stepping on the scale. By that, I mean what time of day.
The most optimal time of day to weigh yourself is right after you wake up and use the bathroom each morning. This is as close as you’ll get to complete accuracy with your weight.
First thing in the morning, your body has just gone through an intermittent fast. It has processed all of the food from the previous day, and you’re likely dehydrated from 7-8 hours without water.
By using the bathroom, you flush your system. Then, you’re ready to step on the scale.
Now, how often do you need to do this? Frequency can be at your own discretion. Currently, I weigh myself daily, as I’m tracking my weight-loss in a cut diet. Conversely, when I was in a bulk, I’d typically only weigh myself on the weekend. I wasn’t as concerned with my day-to-day weight progression in the bulk, as long as my training intensity and weights were going up. On a cut, it’s a different scenario.
But weighing yourself in the morning on an empty stomach isn’t the only necessary factor. What’s also crucial to having accuracy with tracking your weight is understanding the calories you’re consuming on a daily basis.
I’m a big advocate of tracking your macros in a flexible dieting plan. This will give you the most accurate results, as you’ll be aware of the number of calories you’re consuming each day since you’re working toward some type of caloric goal on a daily basis.
However, you don’t HAVE to be flexible dieting or counting macros in order to have accuracy.
If you have a consistent meal plan throughout the week, where you’re eating the same foods for certain meals, that can help you achieve relative accuracy as well.
I know friends, family members, and co-workers that will eat the same breakfast each day or take the same food to work for lunch Monday-Friday. Having consistency like this in your diet helps.
By having a set time where you weigh-in, as well as a consistent or macro-based diet, you’ll have increased accuracy when you step on the scale.
However, there will be some other factors that affect your weight on a daily basis.
Factors At Play
Progress isn’t linear. Just look at the graph at this graph.
That line graph is my weight on a cut over the course of a week. I have consistently hit my macros for nearly two weeks and eat just about the same foods for each meal every day. I also have a structured six-day training program. You’d think I’d see solid day-to-day progress, right?
There are so many additional elements that can affect daily weigh-ins. The key is to not get discouraged, and I’d be lying to you if I acted like it never affects me. But by taking a step back and looking at the process from a bird’s eye view, it’s a bit easier to understand why any type of weight-gain or weight-loss process takes time.
Here are a few additional factors at play:
- Training Plan
- Water consumption
- Sodium levels
- External factors (travel, activity, stress, etc.)
Your training plan and consistency in the gym will play a big part in your weight. Are you bringing the same level of intensity to each workout? Are you actually doing each workout? Are you including any kind of cardio?
The answers to all of these questions will likely affect your weight.
Water consumption is another huge factor. So much of your body weight is water weight, so the more or less you drink, the more or less it will affect your weigh-in.
A misconception might be that if you drink less water, you’ll dehydrate your body and drop weight. That’s not necessarily true. Your body actually tends to hold on to water more if you’re depriving it. My biggest suggestion here would be to try and maintain consistent water consumption. I normally consume between 1-1.5 gallons of water a day, and it seems to even things out.
Depending on the food in your diet, your sodium levels may fluctuate as well. If you’re going out to lunch or dinner on a regular basis, chances are your food will be higher in sodium. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (unless you have a medical condition that suggests otherwise) as long as you can try and keep these levels consistent.
Similar to your water consumption, if you have widely varying sodium levels on a day-to-day basis, it’s probably going to affect how much water weight you retain, and thus will affect your weight. I’ve noticed this directly affect my weigh-ins at the beginning of each week, as I like to dine out a time or two on the weekends. Because of this, I’m normally heavier on Mondays, but my weight tends to return to a normal, more accurate level by the middle of the week.
And lastly, we have external factors. I know that’s painting a lot of items with a broad brush, but we could go on for hours on this topic. In reality, if you’re traveling, have a high level of stress at work, aren’t getting enough sleep, etc. your weight will be affected. All of these elements affect how your body operates, and you’ll hold on to/release weight depending on the situation.
The moral of the story here is first to inform you of how to track your weight accurately. If you’re not doing that correctly, the rest of the information doesn’t matter. Second, it’s to help you understand what can affect your weigh-ins even if you have the basics down.
I hope I’ve helped provide some value in that regard.
Don’t get too worked up if you’re not seeing the results you want on a day-to-day basis. It’s easier said than done, and I know that first hand, but we all need to try and remember that. Weight fluctuates daily, but over an extended period of time you should see the results you’re looking for if you’re being consistent and tracking your weight at the optimal times.
Thanks for reading!