What is the best digital scale for humans?
June 19, 2009 5:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to lose some weight and people have recommended weighing myself every day, as motivation or somesuch. I was wondering if you have a digital scale that you absolutely love, and if so, what the name of it is. Thank you.
posted by melodykramer to Health & Fitness (41 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
It's really not suggested that you weigh every day. If you're dead set on it, PLEASE keep in mind that just because you may have gone up a pound or two in a day, it doesn't mean that you've failed. It could be water retention from eating too much salt, or muscle gain, or who knows. Never take it as an excuse to give up.

That said, I weigh myself daily - against the advice of a WLS support group in fact. It's made me learn not to freak out when the scale goes up a pound, or when it stays still for a week. I think it'll help me when I move onto maintaining my weight and daily weighing is essential.

I have this scale. It's inexpensive, incredibly accurate, and weighs in half pounds.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:23 PM on June 19, 2009

Yes....even if a scale is 1 or 2 or 10 pounds off the mark, as long as you always use the same one, you'll have a fairly accurate picture of what's going on with you, weight-wise. But daily weighing is BAD for motivation-especially if you're a woman, because of cycles and such...damn water retention fakes me out every other week! (ovulation, then menstruation)
posted by AlisonM at 5:23 PM on June 19, 2009

I disagree with the above posters.

When I lost thirty-five pounds, the key for me was weighing daily AND recording the weights on a calendar, duly keeping in mind fluctuations due to water weight and such. What I did was compare each day to the week before, looking for a downward trend (and always finding it. ) It didn't matter if I were a couple of pounds up or down day to day, what mattered was being able to see the downward trend.

It was incredibly motivating, and I recommend it with a sensible diet and exercise for the trifecta.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:25 PM on June 19, 2009 [6 favorites]

I wholeheartedly second St. Alia.
That said, I got my digital scale at Target for about $25, it works just fine. It's made by Taylor.
posted by missuswayne at 5:29 PM on June 19, 2009

I've heard good things from people about Tanita. Personally, I'm more interested in how I feel when I'm riding a bike or hiking a trail, and maybe also in how much my belly sticks out, and so I don't have a scale in the house.

As almost everyone else notes, daily weighing might have some downsides.
posted by box at 5:29 PM on June 19, 2009

I bought a Tanita brand scale about 10 years ago. It's been pretty good and is still working fine, except that I managed to snap off the power button from repeatedly kicking it. Oops. So maybe look for one that has a less damage-prone way of switching it on. But it has otherwise held up fine, and the repeatability seems good--repeated weighings result in the same reading, which is not the case with some others I've tried.

And if daily weighing motivates you, I say go for it! You know your own psychology best, but it works for me. You soon develop an understanding of how your weight fluctuates and don't freak out when it's up a few pounds for no apparent reason. And waiting a week or two between weighings can lead to overeating at the beginning of that interval, hoping to make up for it by being extra-good near the end of it.
posted by FishBike at 5:32 PM on June 19, 2009

I am very picky with scales, and I have the Omron HBF-400, from Amazon. $42. It has fat percentage and BMI but I don't use that. It's just a really accurate scale. It's shocking how bad some are. They will vary by a pound in back-to-back readings. This one it will give you the same reading back-to-back. And you can pick up a 5 lb weight and your weight is 5 lbs heavier, to the 0.2 lbs.
posted by smackfu at 5:33 PM on June 19, 2009

I will weigh myself daily but as others said, you can't knock yourself out if the numbers go up from day to day. The best course is to weigh yourself at the same time every day with the same scale. Whether you weight 200 pounds, 197 or 203 doesn't matter as much as if the number is less than the week before. I do it first thing in the morning after I've taken care of business and naked as a jay bird. But I really only pay attention to my Saturday morning weigh in. That has been going down consistently week over week since I started 60 some pounds ago.

I use a Tanita scale as well. The weight is great. The BF% will fluctuate depending on how the time of day, hyrdation, etc. But as others have said about the weight, it doesn't matter if the number is perfectly accurate, but if over time it is going down.

Having a stab guess of your BF% helps you answer the question of if you're burning fat or muscle, and gives you an idea of your lean body mass.
posted by birdherder at 5:43 PM on June 19, 2009

I am really happy with my Tanita.

I weighed every day when i was counting calories, for the same reasons St. Alia noted. I found it very useful and let me see trends more clearly. I wouldn't do this without any other program in place - for example, I only weight myself daily when I am counting calories daily as well.

You do need to mentally prepare yourself for it. Weight will fluctuate from day to day, and you need to know that, understand why it happens, and always keep the bigger picture in mind.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 5:44 PM on June 19, 2009

I just bought this one from Overstock. I bought it because my boyfriend has an older Tanita scale that he really likes. It seems okay so far. Good luck!
posted by Nolechick11 at 5:44 PM on June 19, 2009

The best course is to weigh yourself at the same time every day with the same scale. Whether you weight 200 pounds, 197 or 203 doesn't matter as much as if the number is less than the week before. I do it first thing in the morning after I've taken care of business and naked as a jay bird. But I really only pay attention to my Saturday morning weigh in.

This is my exact procedure, too. And by focusing on one particular day a week, you will make it easier to identify the bigger picture - in other words, whether, over time, your weight is going down (or up, whatever it is you are trying to achieve).
posted by DrGirlfriend at 5:47 PM on June 19, 2009

I've had success with daily right-out-of-bed weight measurements combined with this handy tool for keeping the numbers in perspective. As for scales, I've been happy with my $20 plate glass drugstore special, unlike some other cheap scales it has four sensors in the corners and seems reasonably precise.
posted by waxboy at 6:13 PM on June 19, 2009

There is no reason to weigh yourself daily. Factors outwith your eating and exercise regime influence your weight on a daily basis, and the loss day on day is rarely encouraging. I lost 6 stone in 6 months and kept it off.

It is however important to weigh yourself regularly in the early stages of a diet; thrice a week, twice a week, weekly, fortnightly, whatever. When you are confident that the weight loss is regular and the diet is working, ditch the scales and enjoy the benefits in the mirror. Good luck.
posted by fire&wings at 6:20 PM on June 19, 2009

I think I learned this from the Beck Diet:

1. weigh yourself naked every morning when you wake up (same time, same way)

2. track your weight in a spreadsheet against losing 2, 3, and 4 lbs a week (3-4 is really unrealistic, 2 is doable for a man, 1.5 for a woman).

3. chart your weight against these and use a trendline to see progress (so you don't get frustrated by the ups and downs).

This is the second time I use this method and it's just golden. I will hit my goal sometime near the end of July.

With the chart, I know when I'm not losing enough and need to reign in the calories and I know when I'm losing too much and need to eat more.

As for scale, I use a digital one I bought as Costco for $30. I just make sure to weigh myself 3 times one after another to get a consistent measure because sometimes it gets temperamental (167.8 this morning, bzzt! wrong, then 169.0, 169.0, 169.0, ding, ding, ding, correct.)
posted by foooooogasm at 6:34 PM on June 19, 2009

As you can tell from the spreadsheet, I'm getting lazy with tracking every calorie. That's OK as long as you're trend is downward and in line with your goal.
posted by foooooogasm at 6:37 PM on June 19, 2009

*you're trending
posted by foooooogasm at 6:38 PM on June 19, 2009

I recommend Tanita. I had the cheapy Target Taylor scale and I could get on that thing three times in three minutes and my weight would be POUNDS different each time. Made me want to throw it out the window.
posted by smalls at 6:47 PM on June 19, 2009

Yes, I agree with St. Alia of the Bunnies above. It is incredibly motivating to see your progress in a daily spreadsheet or what have you.

I got a Tanita scale but don't like it compared to an earlier purchase from Fry's, which was a "Thinner" all-glass scale that you could just tap to turn on (the Tanita requires kicking a small button on the front to turn on, a small but daily hassle).

People above are correct that daily weighings have noise, to remove this noise just always track your average weight as :

25% of today's weight (per the scale) plus 75% of yesterday's average weight.

So if you're yesterday's average is 200 and the scale says 198, you're new average is:
200 x .75 + 198 x 0.25 = 199.5. You still get a loss for the day, but it's smoothed out to account for the daily ups & downs.
posted by @troy at 7:16 PM on June 19, 2009

I do recommend the daily weighing. I also don't care if my scale is off by a pound in back to back weighing. I already know that my weight will be up or down by that amount just depending on what time of day I weigh myself, much less water and other variables.

The idea is to use the scale as information, not motivation. You'll see over time if you are achieving your goals, and can adjust if not. Don't fret too much about daily results, just look for trends.
posted by meinvt at 7:17 PM on June 19, 2009

If you do weigh daily and want an online tracker to show you how you're trending you could try Physics Diet
posted by Bunglegirl at 8:17 PM on June 19, 2009

If you are going to weight yourself every day you HAVE to write it down. That's the key to it not being depressing because you'll see your fluctuations.

The thing I don't get with weighing yourself once a week is that what if that day you are holding fluid? You are going to get one bad reading for the week and think you are fat. I think weighing yourself every day and writing it down is much more encouraging.
posted by sully75 at 8:24 PM on June 19, 2009

the best scale is no scale.

if i were you, i'd base my results on feelings, rather than actual numbers. you could build muscle or have a bit of water-weight or whatever, which will make your weight seem larger than it should.

go by how much more energetic you feel after having eaten healthily and exercised for a while.
posted by chicago2penn at 8:31 PM on June 19, 2009

Nthing Tanita's consistent performance. I weigh daily, using the same procedure as birdherder.
posted by contrariwise at 8:42 PM on June 19, 2009

I've lost 25 pounds since getting a cheap scale from Ikea. As others have said, I weigh myself every night before bed and I try to focus on the overall trends. That said, it is incredibly motivating when I hit particularly low weight and it's an alert to notice a big jump.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:43 PM on June 19, 2009

Get a scale, but take your measurements too - I think these are a better judge a lot of the time.

My only caution is to not get bogged down in things like "getting the best scale" - this might not be the case for you, but it's something I definitely do. "I'll start writing as soon as I get the perfect pen and notebook". "I'll gain some strength as soon as I get the perfect set of free weights" - and then I waste tons of time researching all of these things instead of "just doing it".

Good luck accomplishing your goals!
posted by backwards guitar at 8:58 PM on June 19, 2009

I use the Salter 9106 Body Analyser Scale because it had the largest display of all the digital scales on sale locally. I jot my morning weight and body fat numbers down in a notebook each day and then forget about it. I enter my data into physicsdiet.com once a week to look at the trend. This works so well to suck the emotion out of daily weight fluctuations that half an hour after my weigh-in I would have to look at my notebook to tell you my current weight.
posted by Pigpen at 9:15 PM on June 19, 2009

Hi everyone,

Thank you for the helpful suggestions. There seems to be no consensus on the weighing issue, but I'm someone who previously weighed myself once a year at the OBGYN -- and think that weighing myself more often than that may be helpful -- particularly because I'm now trying to lose some weight and have no idea how much I fluctuate daily or weekly or even monthly. I have gained weight since college though and believe tracking the weight might be useful....I'm not nuts if I gain or lose a pound or two, but I would like to see some type of downward mobile trend (I'm tracking my progress here (self-link to weightloss blog) and feel like I need to at least tell people if what I'm doing -- healthfully eating and exercising -- is working...)
posted by melodykramer at 9:51 PM on June 19, 2009

I'm going to defer from the crowd and say that weighing yourself daily is good in a couple of ways:

1.) You really can see the difference between days on which you stick to your diet and exercise plan and those on which you don't.

2.) You can get a feel for how your weight fluctuates throughout the day.

3.) If you keep a detailed log, you'll learn when you should weigh in and when your results are going to be thrown off.

4.) Don't forget: weigh yourself naked.

As for the scale itself, I highly recommend Tanita. You can find their scales for sale on Amazon and they are often advertised via athletic websites like Nashbar.

You should get one that measures body fat, but again, this will fluctuate from day to day. Thus it's important to keep a log and weigh yourself at about the same time daily.
posted by wfrgms at 10:37 PM on June 19, 2009

The reason you need to weigh yourself everyday is that you need to get yourself familiar with your weight, and just treat it like a number.

I weigh myself twice a day and write it down. If you don't weigh yourself everyday it takes on a mystical like status. It's not. It's just your weight. Whether you weigh yourself or not, you are still that weight. It is better to know than not know.

You would never check your bank balance so infrequently. You always have (at least) a mental projection of how much money you currently have, your outstanding debts, etc. Do the same thing with your weight.
posted by unexpected at 10:44 PM on June 19, 2009

A way to get a good solid measure of progress, despite the daily fluctuations in weight (noise on the signal) is to use a Moving Average.

Plot your weight for 9 days. On the 10th, plot both your weight, and the average of all ten days. On day 11, plot your weight and the average of days 2-11, and so forth -- basically, every day, you plot both the data and the average of the last ten days.

This should smooth the noise out. If you see a big spike on one day, don't worry, but if the 10 day average is trending up, you're gaining weight.

NOTE: However, weight is not the only tool. If you are exercising and building muscle mass, is it *trivial* to be losing fat, and gaining weight. This is not a bad thing, but if the only thing you are tracking is weight, it's going to look bad to you.

The trick here: Measurements. Muscle is much more dense than fat, so if this is happening -- you're gaining muscle and losing fat, you'll see your size going down, even as the weight holds steady.

So: If you haven't lost weight, but the tight jeans are loose, you're winning. Don't panic, don't change, just realize that "weight" is only an approximation of "weight of fat in body."
posted by eriko at 7:01 AM on June 20, 2009

You can use The Google 15 widget to get a moving average.
posted by liketitanic at 10:15 AM on June 20, 2009

Note that my 25% x today's weight + 75% of yesterday's average is in fact a moving average identical to more complicated formulas.
posted by @troy at 11:44 AM on June 20, 2009

I'm on physicsdiet.com, and I can definitely recommend it - it uses a rolling 10 day moving average to smooth out the ups and downs of your weight, and plots the graphs for you. It's entirely free, though you may want an adblocker as there are an awful lot of googleads. You can also track calories and bodyfat trends.

I'm using a tanita bc541 to track weight and body fat percentage; they do do glass ones, and even ones which tell your water percentage if you want something fancier. Various body measurements are also useful (waist, hips, chest) say once a month, to help you reassure yourself.

Seeing how much you're spending energywise lets you work out how much you can eat calorie wise, and my daily morning weigh-in (after loo, before anything else) has become a habit now. I jot the numbers down on a noticeboard, then upload them over coffee.

I've made my profile there public; you can have a look see at how I'm doing after the first 40 days or so ( You can see that the trend is consistently downwards showing I'm losing weight (about 3lb per week), even though the readings are all over the place. The two big spikes match my bodyfat percentage drop, so I knew they were water weight - and after a few days, it came off again as fast as it went on.

There's no magic answer to losing weight of course, it really is just eating less than you spend. The really tricky bit of course is keeping yourself going mentally when it seems like such hard work. I've found a diet that works for me that doesn't feel like punishment so far; food makes a much bigger difference than sheer exercise, though exercise is still very important to improve fitness and build muscle longterm. I've got my wedding in a couple of months, giving me a certain amount of motivation. After that? Well, I've got my physicsdiet graph showing me very quickly if I'm making mistakes and going in the wrong direction. And I want to be a normal weight for the first time in my life - so this time, I'm determined not to lapse, and keep going all the way. 17 pounds down, 103 to go.

Something else I'm thinking of doing; a hand-altered photo from when you're fat to make yourself look thin, to give you a goal. Consider it a shortcut to the 'after' photo, until you get there properly!
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:59 AM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

ArkhanJG reminded me of something I did when I was at my heaviest some years ago (217ish).

I took pictures (front/side) of myself everyday for 120 days (from 217 to 167).

I *could not believe* (and still can't believe) how disgusting I was at 217.

Photographic documentation is not only motivating while you're losing weight.

Once you reach your goal, all it takes is a look back at the photos to discourage yourself from ever getting near your worst weight again.


One other thing:

Something a friend does is "turkey count".

For every 12 lbs., he says "I've lost 1 turkey." For his goal, it's "I will lose 3 turkeys."


Because he can walk into any supermarket and pick up a 12 lb. frozen turkey and remind himself just how much 12 lbs. really is.

It's a lot!

That's a big motivator, to be able to conceptualize just how much weight you've lost or how much extra weight you're carrying.

And if you think 3 turkeys isn't a lot, try riding a bike with 3 of them tied to your waist. :)
posted by foooooogasm at 1:15 PM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

^ I like the turkey thing. 12lbs is also a whole bowling ball!
posted by @troy at 1:30 PM on June 20, 2009

I did the turkey thing the other day; I have a new netbook, very sleek little thing, 1.1kg. So far, I've lost 7 entire netbooks. I'm still carrying an excess of at least 42 netbooks, which is a horrfying thought, really. Plus the kids from the house over the road have started calling out 'hello, fattie!' when they see me - which would have really upset me before.

But you know what? I am fat. I look at the photos I took in the mirror with my shirt off when I started, and I find them horrible. I don't look any different now, to be honest. It's taken a lifetime to put all this weight on - but when I sat down and worked it out, how much I've gained in the last 10 years; it works out at 120 odd calories excess a day. That's a slice of bread, or a biscuit, or a few extra grams of pasta.

I'm going to have to work a lot harder to take it off in a year - my goal - but it can be done. If I keep eating as I am at the moment, 1500-1800 calories a day plus exercise, I should be down to the top end of healthy BMI by March 2010, potentially. Then I'm going to spend a year training, and then I'm going to run (or at least walk) the London Marathon in 2011, something I never imagined I could do.

Normally, in a diet, this is about the point I'd be giving up slowly, and start cutting corners - no real visible change. But you know? 7 laptops down. 42 to go. 8 more months. Then I'm going to run a marathon.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:58 PM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Hacker's Diet is worth a look. It explains how to use various kinds of moving averages to smooth out the variations in daily weights to show you the overall trend. It includes Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for the calcuations.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:20 PM on June 20, 2009

Or calculations, even. To control anything, you need good information about what you're controlling. It's a feedback loop. So I'd highly recommend weighing every day and using some form of moving average to reveal the trend.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:23 PM on June 20, 2009

Okay, you people RULE. This information is awesome and certainly useful for a newbie exerciser/loser like myself (weight loser, that is.)

I'm a really big fan of moderation and also changing things up. This week, for example, I did pilates (once), ellipticaled (5 times), and lifted weights (twice.) I also ate in small bits and pieces, making sure I got all my nutrients.

My goal for the year is 35 pounds, which seems reasonable and allows for cheating on major and minor holidays... :P

Thanks for all of your help. This should be an exciting project!

posted by melodykramer at 5:43 PM on June 20, 2009

No one mentioned it, but the wii fit is basically just a super fancy scale. The game can track your weight daily and it will show you a graph. If you have a wii get the wii fit.
I would always give up on record keeping, but the wii does it automatically.
posted by Iax at 11:48 PM on June 20, 2009

I have not had good luck with digital scales. If your floor isn't 100% flat it will be off. Maybe it's just the cheap ones, I am not sure. I much prefer a regular one.
posted by radioamy at 7:44 PM on June 22, 2009

« Older Seeking recomendation for immigration attorney in...   |   Where to car camp with a dog either a) along I-90... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.