So, you want to lose weight. It's a fitness goal for many; whether you want to lose some extra fat for health reasons or fit into a smaller dress size, you aren't alone in wanting to drop some pounds. But here is the thing. Like any major fitness change, weight loss takes time - at least when it's done sustainably - but exactly how long does it take to lose weight?
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but there aren't any shortcuts when it comes to losing weight. To do it properly, you'll need to adopt healthy lifestyle habits that you can maintain over an extended time, and continue these once you've lost the weight so that you can keep it off!
Weight loss rates do, of course, vary hugely depending on the person and their lifestyle, body type, and exercise routine. While it is incredibly variable, this article should give you a rough idea about how much time it'll take for you to lose weight!
Are you ready? Here are our weight loss tips.
How does weight loss work?
You might know calories as those sneaky measurements that creep into your favorite food by the hundreds - but your body actually runs on calories. Food and drink that you consume add calories, and anything that requires energy - ranging from breathing to making a cup of tea to high-intensity exercise - burns calories.
You lose weight when your body is consuming fewer calories than it needs, and you need a deficit of roughly 3500 calories to lose a pound. You can obtain a calorie deficit in one of two ways - you can diet, consuming low-calorie foods, eating fewer calories than your body needs to live daily.
Or, you can burn excess calories by doing exercises to lose weight. Both of these affect your metabolic activity and help you burn calories.
So, which is the best way to lose weight? Well, most people opt for a combination of the two. They eat a low-calorie diet and include some calorie-burning exercise into their routine.
It is important, however, not to go overboard. If your body suddenly starts receiving far fewer calories than it needs, you will experience a lack of energy and crash. Any change to your calorie consumption has to be sustainable. Often, the focus shouldn't be about how to lose weight quickly, but instead about losing the weight and keeping it off.
How fast can you lose weight?
Once you've committed to shedding some weight, it's only natural to want to know when you'll see some results. Indeed, "when will I notice weight loss" is probably the most common question asked by anyone who has started a new exercise and healthy eating regime!
If you start a weight loss program that includes low-calorie foods and exercise, you should begin to see results within four weeks.
How much weight can you lose in a month?
Exactly how much weight you can lose in a month really varies and depends on the specific person.
If you have a higher BMI, especially if you fall into the obese category, you may notice that you lose weight fairly quickly and could drop a substantial number of pounds in a month.
If you have a more petite frame, you may lose weight more slowly, losing only a few pounds in one month, but notice more subtle differences as your body changes.
How long does it take to start losing weight?
The weight loss process varies wildly from person to person and depends on a range of factors. Some people report feeling a little lighter in week one of exercise.
This could be particularly true if you've followed a diet such as Atkins or South Beach, which restrict carbohydrates in the first few weeks and you've subsequently seen a sudden loss of water weight. A word of warning, though - although these diets provide quick results, they are often not sustainable, and the weight is likely to creep back on.
In week two, you should feel fitter, healthier, and more energized to exercise. Week three might be when you start to see the first results of your weight loss diet and exercise routine; you might notice that your pants are a bit loose or you may start to see some ab muscles peeping through. After week four, if you have been committed to healthy eating and losing weight, you may have gone down a few pounds on the scales and be able to change your dress size.
Where do you lose weight from first?
Typically, males and females lose weight differently. Some scientists argue that men generally lose their belly weight first, whereas women find fat around their thighs and hips to be the most challenging to shift. You might notice that there is a part of your body where you put on weight the easiest - and this will likely be the first place where your weight will disappear from.
There's no real way to control where you lose weight from first - but if you're consistent with your healthy weight loss program, you will start to notice weight loss in all areas.
Why does it take so long to lose weight?
It's essential not to rush losing weight - it takes a while to adopt healthy lifestyle practices and see weight loss results. If you create and stick to a healthy lifestyle plan, mainly eating low-calorie foods but also treating yourself occasionally and exercising consistently, you will see results.
If you're contemplating how long does it take to see weight loss results and are concerned that it seems to be taking you a while, there are some specific factors that you might want to consider.
Factors to consider when losing weight
Losing weight is not a clear-cut process. If you are feeling frustrated about why it is taking a while for you to drop the pounds, it's important to consider these factors. There might be a specific reason that means that you naturally find it more challenging to lose weight than others, in which case you should just keep up the good work and be patient. Alternatively, you might be able to change your lifestyle using these weight loss tips.
- Gender has a role to play in the fat-burning process. When resting, women usually burn around 5-10% fewer calories. This means that men could lose weight quicker than women if they are on the same diet or weight loss program.
- Your initial weight has significance. Somebody who is obese will find it much easier to lose a few pounds than somebody who only has those few pounds to lose.
- Age is another huge factor. Fat mass generally increases over time, meaning that it is tougher to lose weight as you get older.
- Getting enough sleep is crucial. Sleep deprivation increases cravings for junk food, and tests have shown that typically, those who sleep for over eight hours per night have less body fat than those who sleep less.
- Medications can also easily interfere with weight loss. If you are on any medication, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting your weight loss program.
- Frequently stopping and starting dieting can make it more challenging to keep the weight off long-term. This is all the more reason to lose weight sustainably!
Weight loss vs fat loss
You might also find that you aren't losing any pounds, but your body feels trimmer. This is great - it means that you are losing fat, but retaining muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you might even find that you put on weight, but become more fit!
Losing fat but not losing weight often happens to people who train using weights or resistance bands. If this is you, you'll be building your muscles simultaneously as you lose fat, and although you may go down a dress size, your weight may not reflect that. Fat loss is probably your end goal, so it's a good idea to base your journey more on how you feel rather than what the scales tell you.
How to lose weight - and keep it off!
When you lose weight, you'll want to make sure you keep it off. To do this, you should make realistic weight loss goals based on a healthy routine, treat yourself every so often, and not go too overboard with the exercise and healthy eating initially.
Doing so will also keep your metabolic rate stable, ensuring that the weight loss is consistent and your target weight is maintained. Here are some positive lifestyle changes to adopt that will help you shed some pounds:
- Start calorie-burning cardio exercises, including HIIT and lower intensity exercise such as jogging.
- Do strength training - focus on working large muscles like the legs and glutes for maximum calorie burning. Try adding in a booty band for maximum results!
- Eat a varied diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables, has plenty of protein sources, and includes a few carbohydrates and healthy fats.
- Don't completely restrict any food groups - carbohydrates and fats are often villainized when it comes to weight loss but there are healthy sources of both, and they do have their own health benefits.
- Don't forget to treat yourself every so often. Having the occasional cake or cookie will keep cravings at bay and stop you from gorging on unhealthy food.
Losing weight is just one part of the journey!
Losing weight is certainly not done overnight. If you want to lose some pounds and keep them off, it's essential to look at your diet and fitness plan as a long-term lifestyle change. You should start to notice a change within a month or so - whether that be by numbers on the scales or how you feel within yourself.
However, losing weight is only part of the journey! After initial weight loss, it's essential to keep up with your healthy eating and workout routine and ensure that all of that excess weight you're carrying around is gone forever!