If your goal is to lose weight this year, make sure you weigh yourself on Wednesdays.
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That’s the day when your weight is the least likely to fluctuate, making week-to-week comparisons more accurate and ultimately helping to spur weight-loss success, researchers have found.
In a recent study, researchers at Finland’s Tampere University of Technology weighed 40 overweight adults nearly 2,900 times over the course of a year. They found that Wednesday generally gave a much more consistent reading of the participant’s true weight. Weekend weigh-ins showed dramatic gains and losses.
The researchers theorize that people typically eat more on the weekends and then burn the pounds off during the week.
The results reflects the weekend eating habits many of us fall into, says Julia Zumpano, RD, LD. Ms. Zumpano, a registered dietitian in Cleveland Clinic’s section of Preventive Cardiology, did not participate in the study.
“Most people tend to gain weight on the weekends, often due to social events, eating out more often, or snacking. They also may be drinking more alcohol or sweetened beverages than they do during the week,” Ms. Zumpano says. “It all adds up.”
For those of us trying to lose weight, there’s a strong link between weighing ourselves regularly and successful weight loss and maintenance, the study says. Regular weigh-ins helps you stick to a weight loss regime because it regularly reminds you why you are trying to slim down, the researchers say.
The researchers noted that people tend to not weigh themselves on a regular basis. This usually sabotages their weight-loss efforts, they said.
The study’s participants lost weight when they weighed themselves every day. But when they stopped weighing themselves for longer than a month, they were at higher risk of gaining weight. The researchers found that a longer amount of time between weigh-ins meant a larger weight gain.
The key to accurately tracking your weight is consistency, Ms. Zumpano says. For example, you might choose to weigh yourself every Thursday morning immediately after waking up and always wearing your bathrobe. Such a routine controls several factors, she says.
“The same scale, the same amount of clothing, the same time of day, the same time of week — that’s what I recommend,” Ms. Zumpano says. “Keep it very consistent.”
Weight management is a life-long task, the researchers say. Detecting risky periods when weight starts to increase would be important in preventing significant weight gain.
Complete findings for the study, Are Breaks in Daily Self-Weighing Associated with Weight Gain, appear in the journal Plos One.