How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight?

Whether you want to lose weight for a special occasion or merely to improve your health, weight loss is a common goal.

To set realistic expectations, you might want to know what a healthy weight loss pace is.

The factors that affect how long it takes to lose weight are covered in this article.

How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight?
How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight?

How weight loss occurs

Weight loss happens when you consume fewer calories per day than you burn.

On the other side, weight gainhappens when you consistently consume more calories than you expend.

Any food or beverage that contains calories counts toward your daily calorie intake.

However, calculating your daily calorie expenditure, commonly referred to as energy or calorie expenditure, is a bit trickier.

Calorie expenditure is comprised of three basic components:

  • Resting metabolic rate (RMR): This is the number of calories your body needs to function normally, such as breathing and pumping blood. 
  • Thermic effect of food (TEF): This refers to the calories expended in the digestion, absorption, and metabolization of food.
  • Thermic effect of activity (TEA): You burn these calories while you exercise. Thermogenic energy expenditure (TEA) also includes non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which accounts for the calories required for tasks like mowing the lawn and fidgeting.

If you consume the same number of calories as you expend each day, your body weight will remain stable.

You must create a negative calorie balance by consuming fewer calories than you burn or by increasing your level of exercise if you want to lose weight.

Factors affecting weight loss

Your rate of weight loss is influenced by a number of factors. You can’t really control a lot of them.

1. Gender

Your fat-to-muscle ratio has a significant impact on your capacity to reduce weight.

Due to their larger fat-to-muscle ratio than men, women have a lower RMR than men of the same height.

This suggests that women burn 5–10% fewer calories while at rest than men. As a result, while eating a diet with a balance of calories, men often lose weight more quickly than women.

8-week research with nearly 2,000 individuals on an 800-calorie diet, for example, discovered that males lost 16% more weight than women, with a relative weight reduction of 11.8% in men and 10.3% in women.

However, while males lost weight faster than women, the study did not look at gender variations in the capacity to maintain weight reduction.

2. Age

One of the numerous physical changes that come with aging is a shift in body composition, as muscle mass declines and fat content rises.

This alteration, together with other reasons like your primary organs’ reduced calorie demands, adds to a lower RMR.

Individuals over the age of 70 might have RMRs that are 20-25% lower than younger adults.

Weight reduction may become more difficult when RMR declines with age.

3. Starting point


How rapidly you lose weight may also be influenced by your initial body mass and composition.

It’s important to understand that varied relative weight losses (%) may correspond to the same absolute weight reductions (in pounds) in different persons. Last but not least, losing weight is a challenging process.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Body Weight Planner is a helpful tool for calculating how much weight you can lose depends on your starting weight, age, gender, and how many calories you consume and burn.

Although a bigger person can lose twice as much weight, a lighter person can lose an equivalent percentage of their body weight (10/250 = 4% vs 5/125 = 4%).

For example, a 300-pound (136-kg) individual may drop 10 pounds (4.5 kg) after cutting 1,000 calories from their daily diet and increasing physical activity for two weeks.


4. Calorie deficit

You need to create a negative calorie balance in order to lose weight. How much of a calorie deficit you have affects how quickly you lose weight.

For instance, taking 500 fewer calories each day for 8 weeks will probably lead to a greater weight loss than ingesting 200 fewer calories each day.

However, try to avoid going too low on calories.

Not only is this unsustainable, but it also increases your risk of experiencing a vitamin deficit. Additionally, it can improve your chances of reducing weight as muscle rather than fat.

5. Sleep

Sleep is a sometimes disregarded yet crucial aspect of losing weight.

Chronic sleep deprivation may slow down weight loss and slow down how quickly you lose weight.

Sleep deprivation for one night increases your desire for high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods like cookies, cakes, sugary drinks, and chips.

One 2-week experiment randomly assigned people on calorie-restricted diets to sleeping 5.5 or 8.5 hours every night.

In comparison to individuals who slept for 8.5 hours per night, those who slept for 5.5 hours each night lost 55% less body fat and 60% more lean body mass.

Consistent sleep deprivation has thus been linked to type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and a number of cancers.

6. Other factors

Your rate of weight reduction may also be influenced by the following variables:

  1. Medications: A lot of drugs, such as antidepressants and other antipsychotics, can either help you gain weight or make it harder to lose it.
  2. Medical conditions: Diseases can hinder weight reduction and promote weight gain, such as depression and hypothyroidism, a disease in which your thyroid gland produces insufficient amounts of hormones that control your metabolism.
  3. Family history and genes: There is a well-established genetic component related to those who have overweight or obese, and it may hinder weight loss.
  4. Yo-yo dieting: This pattern of weight loss and weight gain might make weight reduction more challenging with each effort owing to a decline in RMR.

The best diet for weight loss

Knowing which weight-reduction plan is the best may be difficult because there are so many options available, and many of them promise remarkable and rapid results.

There is no one greatest weight reduction diet, despite the claims of its inventors and supporters that their plans are superior to the competition.

For instance, low-carb diets like keto may help you lose weight more quickly at first, but studies show no appreciable changes in weight reduction over the long run.

Your capacity to maintain a calorie-reduced, healthy eating pattern is what counts most.

Most diets fail because it is challenging for many people to stick to a very low-calorie diet for an extended length of time.

To increase your chances of success, reduce your calorie intake gradually, customize your diet to your likes and health, or see a competent dietician.

To optimize fat reduction and avoid or minimize muscle loss, combine nutrition with exercise, including both aerobic and resistance training.

You may further encourage weight reduction and your general health by removing overly processed meals and adding more wholesome, nutritious foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and proteins.

Safe rates of weight loss

While the majority of individuals desire quick, rapid weight reduction, it’s crucial to avoid losing too much weight too soon.

Rapid weight loss might increase your risk of gallstones, dehydration, and famine.

Other negative implications of quick weight reduction include.

  • headaches
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • hair loss
  • menstrual irregularities
  • muscle loss

Though weight loss may be more rapid at the beginning of a program, experts advise losing 1% of your body weight, or around 1-3 pounds (0.45-1.36 kg), every week.

Remember that losing weight is not a linear process as well. You could lose more some weeks while losing less or nothing at all other others.

Therefore, if your weight reduction slows down or plateaus for a few days, don’t become disheartened.

Keeping a meal log and weighing yourself periodically may help you stay on track.

According to research, persons who self-monitor their weight and nutritional consumption are more likely to successfully lose weight and keep it off than those who don’t.

 The bottom line

Losing weight occurs when your caloric intake is lower than your caloric expenditure.

Gender, age, starting weight, sleep, and calorie deficit are all elements that impact your weight loss rate.

A weekly weight reduction of 1-3 pounds (0.45-1.36 kg) is a healthy and sustainable technique for reaching your objectives.

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