Can this be the secret to dropping some pounds?
In the study, researchers recruited 294 college students at risk of gaining the Freshman 15, and recommended they weigh themselves at least once a week.
Then, they followed them up for two years, and asked them how often they actually weighed themselves during the time.
The findings? Those students who went through at least one period of time during the course of the study where they weighed themselves daily not only prevented gaining weight, but actually lost weight.
That group experienced small—but significant—decreases in their body mass indexes (BMIs) after two years, compared to those who weighed themselves less often.
The daily self-weighers also saw a small drop in their body fat—about 2 percent— after six months to the end of the study.
“We did not expect that, in the absence of a weight loss intervention, folks would be losing weight,” study author Diane Rosenbaum, Ph.D., said in a statement.
Now, the researchers are quick to point out some limitations of the study. For one, they can’t prove for sure that it was the act of weighing themselves that actually caused them to lose weight. Plus, the participants were college women, so more research needs to be done to see if similar findings would apply to men and people who are out of school, too.
But there are some possible explanations as to why weighing yourself regularly can help you lose weight—even if you’re not on a specific diet and exercise weight loss program.
For one, weighing yourself daily could provide tangible evidence of how your eating and exercising is affecting your weight. If you see the number climbing, well, that regular monitoring can help you make the necessary adjustments to keep it in check, the researchers write.
“Don’t live and die by the number. And of course a scale doesn’t decipher between fat and lean body mass, but it can still be of benefit to keep things “in check,” nutritionist Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D., wrote for us in the past.
So use a scale as just one of your tools in your arsenal. Another one you can’t miss? An exercise program you’ll stick with.
Try The 21-Day MetaShred from Men’s Health. You’ll build lean muscle and strip away fat—and you don’t even need to leave your living room.