How long does it take to lose weight: 9 things to remember

How long does it take to lose weight


I can imagine your inner feeling when …

The weight scale tells you that your weight has not decreased from the previous week you got checked and suddenly many questions start to haunt you? Like…

“What am I doing wrong? Or even “is this weight scale working properly? “How long does it take to lose weight?”  OR “When I will start losing weight?”. Maybe in a few days? OR Maybe in a few weeks? OR Maybe in a few months?

If all this has happened to you then you are not alone. Rather there are many like you who end up asking these tough questions when they don’t find what they expected.

So, do you want to know how long it would take to lose weight and shed those 20/30 pounds in a month or two?

Then don’t miss out on what is written below? Let’s first find out the process of weight loss and how your body loses fat and then you can make an estimate of yourself.

How weight loss happens: the Basics of weight loss

How weight loss happens?

The science of weight loss is very simple; When you continue to eat fewer calories than you are expending, the process of weight loss will take place.

Conversely, the exact opposite is true for weight gain; it happens when you consume more than you expend. Anything you eat or drink has calories that count towards the total calorie consumption of the day.

However, the number of calories you burn for weight loss goes through a complicated process. Once food or drink is taken in, its calories can be utilized in three main ways by your body:

1. Thermic effect of activity (TEA)

This is the process that uses your food calories during exercise or state of high physical activity.

These calories can also be used in its sister process called (NEAT: non-exercise activity thermogenesis) which involves activities like fidgeting yard work.

2. Thermic effect of food (TEF)

This process uses calories in the digestion, absorption, assimilation, and complete metabolization of food.

3. Resting metabolic rate (RMR)

This is the process where your calories are used in maintaining the usual bodily functions at rest like breathing, blood pumping, other during sleep tasks of the body.

So, it becomes very clear, that to lose weight you have to decrease your calories than you burn through all these processes. Otherwise, if you keep your calorie consumption equal to the intake, your weight will remain the same.

The bottom line

If you are really serious about losing weight then you have to create a negative calorie difference by consuming fewer calories than you expend.

How our body loses weight? 

How our body loses weight?

The above all was about the basis of weight loss i.e how calories matter and how weight loss or weight gain occurs. A very closely related concept is how exactly our body loses weight or what is the biology of weight loss. 

Let’s find out then.

The biology of weight loss

The biology of weight loss

When you burn more calories than you consume, your body enters into the state of calorie deficit. In the state of calorie deficit, it begins the consumption of excess fat stores for energy. Hence you lose weight slowly as you enter into calories deficit.

As one pound of body fat contains about 35000 calories and a deficit of about 500-1000 calories a day will create a deficit in weight loss fat for about 1 to 2 pounds per week of your fat stores.

a) A calorie deficit triggers starvation mode in your body

Also, prolonged low-calorie intake can trigger activation of “starvation mode”: The starvation mode is a phenomenon of your body whereby due to low intake of its required calories, your body may start breaking down your hard-earned muscles after it has eaten up your fat stores for its energy needs fulfillment.

So instead of losing weight, you may experience the opposite and worst: i.e the loss of your hard-earned lean muscle mass. So, always be aware that there is no such thing as “quick/rapid weight loss”, rather it is damaging for your health in the long run

Crash diet boasting about such results actually work by cutting carbohydrates so the body doesn’t need to store excess carbs as glycogen.

b) A calorie deficit leads to water loss to decrease body weight

As explained above, your excess store of fat is stored in the form of glycogen in your liver and fat tissues of your organs. However, each one gram of glycogen in the human muscles binds 3 grams of fat.

Now since glycogen attaches water with it too, so when you lose fat, you lose that water too. But this type of weight loss is not healthy and sustainable, dietitians warn.

So beware of any such crash diets because they may lead you to an unhealthy way of losing fat which is dangerous for your health overall

Factors affecting weight loss rate

Factors affecting weight loss rate

Now comes the meaty part of the article i.e answer your question as what are the factors that directly affect weight loss.

For your information, many factors play a role in determining how fast you will lose weight. While some of the factors are in your control but all are not. These factors are listed below and discussed briefly.

1. Your starting body weight

your starting body weight affects rate of weight loss

Your starting body weight point can tell how quickly you will start losing weight. The reasoning for this is very simple: People who have large body fat i.e are heavier than normal people shed more pounds of fat initially when they start weight loss programs.

However, this weight loss is proportional to the body weight and percentage of weight loss is equal for everyone, whether the heavier or lighter person

For instance,

There is a person who currently has 300 pounds may lose 10 pounds after reducing their daily calorie intake by 500 calories for 2 weeks which equals 9.7% in body weight.

Now suppose there is another person B, with the same age and gender who weighs 150 pounds may lose 5 pounds by reducing the calorie intake by 500 calories for 2 weeks which again equals 9.7%. 

Clearly, the person A, who lost double (10 pounds) the amount of fat than person B(5 pounds) are equal in losing the equal percentage amount of fat by following the same weight loss strategy.

2. Your extent of calorie deficit

Your extent of calorie deficit

Since you know, losing weight required creating a calorie deficit. So the amount of calorie deficit you are creating determines the speed of your weight loss.

For instance,  A person creating a negative calorie deficit by 500 calories will lose more weight than a person who is creating a calorie deficit of 300 calories per day.

Caution please!

However, be careful in creating an extreme calorie deficit because if a calorie deficit too large it may prove to be very unsustainable which puts you on the risk of nutrient deficiencies on one hand and loss of lean mass instead of body fat on the other hand

Warning: Don’t starve yourself for creating a calorie deficit!

Creating a calorie deficit should not lead you to starve yourself and lose muscle because the body in an extreme calorie deficit can trigger your body to eat your muscles to compensate for energy loss from cutting calories.

To mark yourself safe, make sure your diet should have a sufficient amount of healthy proteins and you perform muscle-building strength training.

Please Also,  note that these numbers are not set in stone but an average estimate of a men/woman having the same bodyweight, fitness level, metabolic rate levels, etc.

Since these factors differ in each woman and man, not every man or woman is consuming the same type of diet. So every individual has its own math regarding how much calorie deficit they need to create.

3. Your carbs intake

your carbs intake matter for weight loss rate

Since your body stores 1 pound of glycogen (a stored form of carbohydrates) with 3 pounds of water with it, when you cut carbs, you lose water too.

So when you extreme cut your carbs level, your body water may take a plunge and lose significantly out of your body system which is unsustainable and unhealthy most of the time.

So, a quick drop you see in your body weight might be because of this loss of water weight triggered by extreme carb cut.


4. Your diet type

Your diet type matters for rate of weight loss

All diets are not equal and some of them like Atkins and South Beach involve an initial phase where you lose a lot of weight upfront because such diets have quite tough food restriction.

So, you can feel the weight loss very quickly in the starting phase of taking such types of diets.

However, most of the weight loss caused by these diet types is because of water loss due to extreme carbohydrate cut.

5. Your age

Your age levels also matter for rate of weight loss

Your age matters too in determining the fact that when you will start losing weight. As you age, your body composition changes i.e you fat mass increases and muscle mass shrinks.

Also, as you age, you Rest Metabolic Rate( RMR) also slows down, meaning you need less and fewer calories to make your organs work during rest/sleep or inactivity.

E.g adults aging above may even decrease the RMR of 70 years old by a significant 25-30% as compared to younger adults.

The bottom line: Hence, naturally, your natural weight loss can become difficult and slow with age.

6. Your sleep levels

your sleep levels matter for weight loss rate

Sleep can become an overlooked factor in determining how long will take you to lose weight. While the fact is, chronic sleep deprivation can mar your ability to lose weight.

Research evidence

A sleep deprivation level of even one night can cause you to increase your calorie intake from foods like cookies, sugary drinks, and fast food, etc.

A study conducted for 2 weeks tested whether a calorie-restricted diet and less sleep contributed to the rate of weight loss or not. 

For that, one group of random participants with having a calorie deficit, sleep for only 5 hours and another group on calorie deficit slept for 8 hours each night for 2 weeks. 

The results?

Participants who slept for only 5 hours lost only 50% less body fat but lost about 60% more of a lean mass as compared to participants who slept for 8 hours for 2 weeks.

This can also show that sleep deprivation may cause obesity, diabetes type 2 and other serious health problems.

7. Your Gender

Your type of gender matters for rate of weight loss

Your gender also affects your rate of weight loss. For women, it is slower than men. The reasoning is simple: In the case of gender, fat to muscle ratio comes into play.

Women generally have greater fat to muscle ratio than men, so they also have on average 8-10% lower RBR(resting metabolic rate) than men of the same age and weight. 

Hence, women will generally, on average, burn about 8-10% fewer calories than men. This means women will lose weight slower than their male counterparts given they have the same diet in calorie and nutrient content.

Research evidence

A 10-week study comprising of 2000 participants following a strict calorie deficit found that men lost about 15% more weight than their female counterparts.

8. Your frequency of checking weight scales

frequency of checking weight scales matter for rate of weight loss

This is something that many ignore. Your frequency of weighing in can give you different results every time and can confuse you.

For instance, if you weigh yourself after a week, you will see a different weight scale. And if you measure about 2 weeks, this reading will be different. And it will be very minimal if you weigh yourself daily.

Do you know why?

Because the timing of your weight scale reflects the changes your body has been through each time. I.e For 2 weeks, a lot of changes have happened to your body. For 1 week, fewer changes have happened to your body

For daily, even fewer changes have happened because your weight loss strategies take time to take effect i.e your new weight will reflect the total number of pounds lost over a total no of days.

Therefore, it is advised to don’t weigh yourself daily, rather than weekly. So, the frequency with which you weigh might give you a different rate of weight loss.


9. Your weight measurement tool 

your weight measurement tool matter for weight loss rate

Your weight scale may tell you a different story and your clothing fitting a different story. Let’s discuss each briefly

a) Weight scale measurement is different

Your weight scale measures everything in your body as weight:

The digit of weight you see on your weight scale is a deceptive number that misleads you i.e does not measure your bodyweight only,  rather it adds many other things of your body to add to your weight tally. It adds…

  1. Includes the weight of your muscles
  2. Weight of your fat of the body
  3. Weight of your bones
  4. Weight of food in your system
  5. Weight of water content in your body

b) your weight scale does not account for muscular changes in your body

Your weight scale does not express the changes which are occurring in your body like increasing body fat levels or increasing muscle mass levels. For instance, the muscle mass you have built by doing strength training and heavy lifting does not show up in your weight scale.

Also, the fat you have lost simultaneously does not represent in your weight digit while you are getting leaner and slimmer due to fat loss.

c) your clothes fitness tells a different but more accurate story

Clothes don’t lie.

Clothes tell you how much actual fat you have lost because the weight scale number reflects many other things on a lower weight scale. This is very simple: pick up one of the pairs of your tight pants and keep checking it by wearing it weekly. 

If you feel they are loose, you are losing your fat and if tight, you need to make some changes to your diet or training.


Other factors determining your weight loss rate

Several other factors come into play to affect your weight loss rate, like these:

  1. Use of medications: many different types of medications like antibiotics, antidepressants can affect your rate of weight loss.
  2. Medical Illnesses:  different illnesses like depression, or any other serious health condition can affect your rate of weight loss.
  3. Family history & Genetics: Your genetics are other important factors that determine how fast or slow you lose weight. This has been validated by science too. 

What is a safe rate of weight loss?

What is a safe rate of weight loss?

It has been repeatedly advised to you that a rapid weight loss is never sustainable and healthy because it comes with many disadvantages and complications.

Fitness experts have found these side effects with losing rapid/ quick weight loss.

Side effects of rapid weight loss are:

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


A safe rate of weight loss

Though the rate of weight loss differs from person to person but experts recommend that rate of losing 1-3 pounds (0.5-1.3 kg) of weight/week which translates into 1% body weight is sustainable, healthy, and lasting.

But remember that weight loss is never a smooth process rather there are ups and downs. For instance, initially, you might lose more weight than after a few weeks or months.

Fitness expert recommends that keeping a daily record of intake, measuring yourself regularly can easily help you keep on track.

How to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way?

How to lose weight in a healthy sustainable way?

Losing weight in a sustainable way offers many health benefits from improved heart health, low blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Etc. These changes might not be reflected in weight scale but they are reflected in your improved health in these areas.

Weight loss benefits for health

  • Exercising and training in your weight loss efforts can greatly improve your heart health and reduce your heart disease risk, even though you might not lose weight in the process.
  • Also, the loss of visceral fat due to healthy eating in weight loss has many benefits i.e visceral fat is the deep belly fat surrounding your internal organs and it greatly increases your risk of health complications like Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

So, in your weight loss efforts, If you are successful in losing visceral fat by 10-20%, although this change is not properly reflected in weight scale, however, it can have a direct positive effect on your health.

Top Healthy & Optimal Weight-loss strategies

Healthy and sustainable weight loss strategies

The following are some of the best healthy and optimal weight loss strategies you can employ for best health and fat loss results.


1.  Count your calories but don’t drastically reduce your calories

Don't cut your calories too much

This is the first step towards healthy weight loss. You do want to keep track of calories but you don’t want to sharp cut your calories.

Remember, a sharp cut of calories triggers your body into a starvation mode which can eat up your lean mass too. So be aware, do count your calorie intake but don’t cut down too extreme which does more harm than good

You calorie breakdown from macro-nutrients must be in this way

  • 20% of calories from quality fats
  • 30% of calories from healthy proteins
  • 50% of calories from quality carbohydrates.

2. Include a lot of quality protein

Include a lot of quality protein sources to lose weight healthily.

Including a healthy protein in your weight loss strategy is very crucial because when you cut down your carbs initially, it can trigger the starvation mode of your body which can eat up your lean muscle mass.

To save you from this problem, always include healthy foods of proteins that can keep your muscle building and assist in repairing. Only then you can compensate for the drastic reduction in carbs otherwise you will lose lean mass.

Sources of healthy proteins are:

  • Turkey
  • Chicken 
  • Eggs
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Fish
  • Pork etc

3. Cut down on the refined and processed carbs

cut down or refined and process carbs to lose weight

Refined and processed carbs are unhealthy for healthy weight loss and include a lot of unnecessary calories that contribute to fat stores in your body.

Therefore you have to carefully choose such foods which are full of healthy carbs. 

Sources of unhealthy carbs are:

  • Cake
  • Biscuits
  • Cookies
  • Muffin
  • Chips
  • Soft drinks
  • Fruit juices

Sources of healthy carbs are:

  • Quinoa
  • Oats 
  • Buckwheat
  • Bananas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beetroots
  • Blueberries
  • Grapefruit

4. Keep exercising/training regularly

keep exercising regularly to lose weight naturally fast

To make sure you are training for healthy weight loss. You need to adhere to the following exercise/training tips.

  • Try doing your training for 40-50 minutes per workout, for 3-4 days of the week
  • Combine Cardio with HIIT for maximum results.
  • Include strength training and heavy lifting in your routine.
  • Be consistent with your nutrition and training 

5. Watch your portions

watch out your portions to lose weight naturally

“Be cautious of portion size of main meals and snacks — always eat to 80 percent full before returning for seconds,” Clark said.

6. Stop drinking soda

stop drinking soda to lose weight naturally

If you really want to get rid of unhealthy carbs and empty calories, you need to stop drinking soda drinks, energy beverages, and open fruit juices.

They do nothing but mess up your healthy carb intake.

7. Try Apple cider vinegar for weight loss

Apple cider vinegar for weight loss can work

How long does it take to lose weight with apple cider vinegar?

Answer: Definitely apple cider vinegar helps you lose weight as proved by this study:

In this 10-week long research study, 144 obese Japanese adults consumed either 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of vinegar, 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of vinegar or a placebo drink every day.

These participants were also told to minimize their alcohol intake and take the usual diet throughout the day.

Those who consumed 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of vinegar per day had — on average — the following benefits:

  • Weight loss: 2.6 pounds (1.2 kg)
  • A decrease in body fat percentage: 0.7%

This is what changed in those consuming 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of vinegar per day:

  • Weight loss: 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg)
  • A decrease in body fat percentage: 0.9%

In the other group, the placebo group only gained 0.9 lbs (0.4 kgs).

So the time it takes for apple cider vinegar for fat loss takes almost 2 months to show on your waistline. So be patient and keep doing what you are doing.

8. Stop the habit of skipping meals

Don't skip meals to lose weight naturally

If you skip your regular meals, you are very likely to consume more the next time you sit to eat which can enhance your eating capacity in the long term which is clearly against your efforts.

Also, skipping your meals is bad for overall health, your mood, and energy levels and can cause depression.

9. Get realistic with your weight loss goals

Get realistic with your weight loss goals

As explained earlier, rapid weight loss is always unhealthy and unsustainable. So always be realistic in your weight loss goals. Don’t become impatient and start aiming for something which is not only unhealthy but unrealistic too. 

A safe rate to lose weight is to aim for losing about 0.5-1.4 kg of weight per week. Anything more than that is not realistic and sets you on a path of risky weight loss.

Also, make sure what is on your table while sitting to eat out must be of the variety and weight loss goals should not blind you in destroying your life tastes. So be realistic and don’t be impatient or deluded.

Why it’s harder to lose weight than to gain it?

Why it is harder to lose weight than to gain it?

There could be many reasons whereby it becomes harder to lose weight than gain it. Below is a list of reasons that could be very relevant to this.

1. Individual Lifestyle choices

Since there are many factors that contribute towards your weight loss efforts but since each individual has his own lifestyle choices like diet, inactivity, genetics, smoking, motivation, alcohol consumption, stress, poor, occupation, environment and hormone imbalance which contribute to difficulty in weight loss.

2. Different health issues

Many medical conditions like cardiovascular, diabetes or hormonal balance of insulin or cortisol can hinder your weight loss efforts.

3. Stress and depression

In the modern world of today, stress is very common and also a common reason for the difficulty in your weight loss efforts. A stress hormone like cortisol has been found to limit your ability to burn fat and hence lose weight.

So a number of sources of stress like familial stress, training stress, job stress, money stresses can add up for many sources of stress.

4. Dieting habits and aging

Many bad eating and dieting habits like yo-yo dieting, mindless eating, sedentary lifestyle and the slowing down of your metabolism as you age hamper your weight loss abilities. These habits mess up with your hormonal changes and negatively affect them.

For instance, dieting habits like weight cycling can cause your hunger hormones like ghrelin to increase which can increase your calorie intake levels and thus increase fat and weight.

So you are less likely to lose weight quicker than others who are not involved in these dieting and eating habits.

Take home message: How long does it take to lose weight?

How long does it take to lose weight?

Weight loss occurs when you eat fewer calories than you burn. Many factors affect your weight loss rate, including your gender, age, starting weight, sleep, and the extent of your calorie deficit.

Aiming to lose 1–3 pounds (0.45–1.36 kg) per week is a safe and sustainable way to reach your goals like to get skinny and lose weight quickly.


Q1: How long does it take for you to notice weight loss?

Answer: How long does it take for you to notice weight loss depends on the following factors like:

1. Your starting bodyweight level
2. Your extent of calorie deficit
3. Your carbs intake
4. Your diet type
5. Your exercising regimen
6. Your age
7. Your gender
8. Your sleeping levels
9. Your measurement tool
10. Your ongoing medications
11. Your medical conditions
12. Your family and genetics

Generally, if you follow a weight loss diet coupled with effective and planned training, you will be able to notice weight loss after a week or so minimum.

Q: How can you lose 10 pounds in a week?

Answer: you can lose 10 pounds in a week by following this strategy religiously.

1. Cut out unhealthy processed carbs
2. Take healthy proteins
3. Exercise for 4-5 times a week
4. Cut down your calories drastically by reducing unhealthy carbs intake
5. Cut out alcohol
6. Cut out sugar drinks
7. Train heavy
8. Lift heavyweights
9. Include cardio with HIIT training methods

Q3: Can you lose 20 pounds in a month?

Answer:  you can lose 20 pounds in a week by following this strategy religiously.

1. Cut out unhealthy processed carbs
2. Take healthy proteins
3. Exercise for 4-5 times a week
4. Cut down your calories drastically by reducing unhealthy carbs intake
5. Cut out alcohol
6. Cut out sugar drinks
7. Train heavy
8. Lift heavyweights
9. Include cardio with HIIT training methods


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