How Long Does It Take To See Weight Loss Results?

Losing weight means a lot to many people across the globe. That’s understandable because we all want to look good and feel good about ourselves. But the question is, how long does it take to see weight-loss results?

A 2019 study¹ by the International Food Information Council Foundation reported that approximately 63% of Americans are trying to lose or maintain their current weight. Below, we’ll take a look at an analysis of the relationship between weight loss and time frames for visible, physical results.

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How long does it take for you to start losing weight?

The time frame for weight loss depends on several factors. This includes:

Age

The older you get, the longer it takes to see results. This is because as you age, your metabolic rate decreases. Your body's ability to absorb nutrients and break down food molecules also decreases significantly.

Age determines your body activity level. The more active you are, the faster you'll see results. This is because energy consumption and expenditure remain high during exercising and activities of daily living (ADLs). These include walking up a staircase or lifting heavy objects.

At 70+ years, for instance, your body activity level is reduced significantly, explaining the lengthy time required for weight loss.

Gender

Women generally lose weight slower than men because they have lower metabolic rates² and produce less testosterone, the hormone responsible for muscle mass gain. Women also, unlike men, expend fewer calories during activities of daily living (ADLs).

This is evident especially among young women with the fastest metabolic rates, who require approximately 1200-1500 calories per day, whereas men of the same age need around 1800-2400 calories.

Nutrition

Good nutrition contributes to faster weight loss. Diets that are high in protein and fiber or low in fat lead to more immediate results. However, such plans are challenging to maintain due to their high nutritional demands and may not suit all populations.

Other diets that require a person to lower their calorie intakes, such as the ketogenic diet or very low-calorie diet (VLCD), lead to considerable weight loss within a short period.

Hormonal imbalance

Hormonal changes can have an impact on your appetite, metabolism, and body fat distribution. Growth hormone, for example, is responsible for determining your height as well as your muscle and bone growth. On the other hand, cortisol, a stress hormone, causes retention of excess weight. When you suffer from a hormonal imbalance, such as low growth hormone or excess cortisol, you can experience delayed weight loss.

How much weight do you need to lose before you notice?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)³, recommended weekly minimum weight loss is 1-2 pounds or approximately 4-8 pounds monthly. CDC further recommends that you need to lose around 5-10% of your total body weight to notice changes. For instance, if you weigh 170 pounds, you need to lose roughly 8.3-17 pounds to notice a difference.

The results should also be measured after at least three months, for certainty. After week one, you may lose 1-3% of your total body weight. This usually comprises fluid and not fat. The actual fat-burning process starts after a month of consistency. Don't be too harsh on yourself with questions such as "how much weight do you need to lose to notice a difference?" Instead, stay on track and keep working towards achieving your ultimate goal.

Where do you notice weight loss first?

Body-weight loss is usually noticed around the belly, waistline, and thighs first. This is because your body stores fat in different locations. For instance, men hold more fat around their belly, while women store it on their thighs and hips.

Weight loss gradually starts with a reduction in belly size. You may feel this when standing up straight or by measuring your waist circumference when fitting clothes. Monitoring the belly and hip measurements weekly is beneficial in tracking significant weight changes.

What are the signs you might be losing weight too quickly?

Sometimes your body can lose weight at a faster rate than usual. Here are the indicators of such a circumstance:

Headaches

Headaches are a common symptom of people who lose weight too quickly. When your body is deprived of essential nutrients, you may develop headaches. This can also indicate a deficiency in carbohydrates and calcium to support the necessary hormonal functions.

Muscle lossLosing muscle is dangerous for anyone hoping to lose weight. It can make you fat instead of helping you get slim and fit. When you lose weight too quickly, your body begins breaking down muscles and other lean tissue for fuel. This leads to a reduction of calorie-burning tissues in the body.

Dehydration

When you're trying to lose weight, your body needs enough water to function optimally. If you're not getting enough water, the body has to make up for it. This could involve pulling water from other organs such as the brain, liver, and kidneys. This leads to conditions such as headaches, kidney stones, organ damage, and death in extremities.  The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine⁴ recommends that men drink about 125 ounces a day (approximately 13 cups) and women drink about 91 ounces (approximately 9 cups) of water per day - these figures include water consumed while eating. When exercising your water intake should increase from this.

Digestive issues

When trying to lose weight, your body needs enough nutrients to function optimally. If you're not eating enough food with the necessary vitamins and minerals, fatigue may set in. Your body could also be deprived of bulk-forming fiber, needed to maintain healthy bowel movements and prevent constipation.

Hitting plateaus

Losing weight is rarely linear. It occurs in stages where you may experience a plateau after weeks of progressing downwards in weight on the scale. It is important to know that this is normal and not to be disheartened and abandon your weight-loss journey.

A good remedy after hitting a plateau is adjusting your diet. This may consist of adding more healthy foods that promote fat burning, like green tea, spices, fruits (berries), and vegetables (spinach) or reducing the intake of carbohydrates, especially refined carbs like sugar, soda, pasta, and bread.

The lowdown

Losing weight requires commitment, discipline, and patience, especially if you're trying to lose significant amounts of body fat. Different weight loss programs yield different results within a given timeline. Pick a schedule that suits you and your lifestyle and be consistent until you achieve your weight-loss goals. Remember to also seek the services of a professional dietician to help you achieve your weight-loss goals.

Have you considered clinical trials for Weight management?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Weight management, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

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