Experts are torn about whether or not you should weigh yourself daily. The number on the scale is just one piece of the puzzle and doesn’t always accurately represent progress and overall wellness. “Being healthy means you’re nourishing your body with quality foods, you’re focused on exercise for its multitude of benefits beyond weight loss and you’re taking into account your mental health.” That means you should only step on the scale when it serves you and can help you create healthier habits.
To that end, experts share five times you should definitely avoid the scale altogether:
Your weight is most accurate first thing in the morning, after you’ve gone to the bathroom and before you’ve eaten breakfast, says Kylene Bogden, RD. “If you are properly hydrated and you’ve eaten well throughout the day, the scale will be higher midday, which isn’t a bad thing,” she says.
Constipation can be caused by many things, including changes in your regular routine or medication. When you’re constipated your body retains solids, which increases the number on the scale. “If you can’t remember the last time you went to the bathroom, that’s a good time to avoid the scale and seek an expert opinion,” says Caleb Backe, certified personal trainer, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics.
“If a mom-to-be or new mom is hyper-focused on her weight, this can create more anxiety, unnecessary stress and increased risk for disordered eating, which is actually more harmful for her health and her baby,” says Crystal Karges, MS, RD, a maternal health specialist at Crystal Karges Nutrition. “Instead of placing an emphasis on weight, I encourage moms to ignore their scales and focus on overall behaviors to promote good health. This includes intuitive eating, adequate sleep, effective stress management, movement and more.”
“During your menstrual cycle, your hormones are out of balance, which can lead to bloating,” says Melissa Mitri, MS, RD. “It’s not uncommon for a woman to gain 5–6 pounds of water weight during this time until their cycle is complete.”
It’s one thing to step on the scale and create healthier habits, but sometimes that backfires. “Some people see a number and if it’s not what they like, they feel defeated and become depressed and often turn to unhealthy behaviors to manage their weight,” says Julie Upton, MS, RD, co-founder of Appetite for Health. “If you react to weighing yourself this way, you should use alternative methods to measure your success, like how many days in a row you log your food or how much water you drink in a day.”