How Long Does it Take to Lose Weight?

By  //  May 20, 2021

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The thought of how long it takes to lose weight has been a major query amongst many adults. And there are no signs of it fading anytime soon.

Health and weight loss experts suggest that effective weight loss is not merely a question of calorie deficit or using diet pills– there are many factors that dictate weight loss success and may differ from person to person.

These include poor nutrition, inactivity, genetics, family history, stress level, psychological factors, refined sugar consumption, and so on. Whether you’re looking to lose weight for a special occasion or you simply want to improve your health, weight loss is certainly a common goal.

However, it is important to understand what a healthy weight loss rate is to set realistic expectations. This post focuses on various factors that influence how long it can take to lose weight.

How The Body Loses Weight

Significant weight loss occurs when you constantly eat fewer calories than you’re actually burning every day. On the contrary, weight gain occurs when you consistently consume more calories than you’re burning.

When you consume fewer calories than your body requires, it will burn fat to cover up the difference, and gradually, you will lose weight. One pound of body fat consists of approximately 3,500 calories. Therefore, over seven days, a deficit of 500-to-100 calories may lead to a weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds per week.

However, when you slash too many calories, the body responds to the potential famine and tries to preserve your fat stores. For men, getting fewer calories than 1,800 or women getting less than 1,200 calories will make your body break down your muscle tissues to generate energy.

Well, the scale will indicate that you’ve lost weight, but the loss will be due to the lost muscle mass, which influences the overall body composition (the ratio of fat to lean mass). As such, anything you eat or drink that contains calories counts towards your total calorie intake.

Additionally, the number of calories you burn every day- often referred to as calorie expenditure- is quite more complicated. Calorie expenditure can be attributed to the following major components:

Factors Influencing Weight Loss

The rate at which you lose weight can be affected by several factors and weight loss products are not one of them as they are considered undernutrition. Unfortunately, some of them are out of your control.


The fat-muscle ratio can greatly influence your ability to lose weight. While women are typically associated with higher fat-muscle ratio than men, they tend to have a lower resting metabolic rate, mostly 5-10% than men of the same height.

That means women generally burn fewer calories than men at rest. Therefore, even on an equal calorie diet, men tend to lose weight much quicker than women. For instance, in a study involving 2,000+ participants subjected to an 800-calorie diet, it was found that men lost 16 percent more weight than women, with an average weight loss of 11.8% compared to 10.3% percent of women.

Although men were found to lose more weight than women, the study didn’t find any statistical weight loss deference based on gender.

Dieting and Aging

Dieting is one of the most tempting methods of a fast weight loss plan. However, other factors like yo-yo dieting, sedentary lifestyle, mindless eating, and lowering metabolism associated with aging significantly affect your ability to lose weight. These elements predominately influence the functionality of your hormones, which serves an essential role in the body’s ability to lose weight.

Alterations in body composition is a common change in the body, and it comes with aging. This is where most people tend to experience a decrease in muscle mass and increase in fat mass.

Adults over 70 may have Resting Metabolic Rates of around 20-50%, which is significantly lower compared to younger adults. This decrease in RMR can make weight loss a bit more difficult with age. Such changes, along with other aspects like declining calorie needs in various major organs, will often lead to a reduced Resting Metabolic Rate.

Calorie Deficit

Negative calorie balance is imperative when it comes to weight loss. For instance, consuming 500 fewer calories a day over eight weeks will probably result in more significant weight loss than reducing your daily calorie intake by only 200 calories.


Sleep is one of the more overlooked yet essential components for fast and healthy weight loss. Severe sleep loss can significantly impede weight loss and the rate at which you shed pounds. Several studies show that a single night of sleep deprivation can trigger your desire for high-calorie yo-yo foods like cookies, chips, cakes, and sugary beverages.

One randomized study observed participants on a calorie-controlled diet who took either 5.5 or 8.5 hours every night. Subjects who slept 5.5 hours showed 60% more lean muscle and 55% less body fat than those who slept 5.5 hours per night. Furthermore, chronic sleep deprivation is associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Lifestyle Choices

It is important to note that the concept of weight loss and weight management is an involved process. There are so many lifestyle factors that can lead to overweight and obesity. From inactivity, smoking, moods, alcohol consumption, stress, poor sleeping patterns, environment, occupation, and hormone imbalance, only to name a few.

Ideal Weight Loss Strategies

Although fast weight loss results are quite promising, trying to lose weight too quickly can lead to various health complications. In fact, losing weight too rapidly can be unhealthy and counterproductive.

Well, fad diets and fast weight-loss regimen can make you lose weight in the short term. However, they will leave you vulnerable to regaining all of the weight you lost. So, try to make broad and favorable changes in your diet and exercise routine. This way, you’ll be in a better position to keep weight off for a longer period.

Gradually phase out fast food, processed foods, and frequent sugary treats. Prepare more of your meal at home using fresh ingredients such as lean proteins, watery fibrous vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

Bottom Line

It is recommended that you observe your calorie intake or use your serving plate as a guide for portion-controlled eating. You may include grilled chicken with sweet potatoes, green salad, or a turkey breast sandwich alongside carrot and celery sticks. Abstain from sweets, chips, and sodas at snack time. Instead, consider low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese, unsettled nuts, and fresh fruits.