At some point in their lives, most people consider taking action to lose weight. For some, this means a carb-free diet, for others, a strict workout routine. Depending on the approach to weight loss, and various other factors such as age or start weight, individuals will begin to notice changes after varying amounts of time.
This begs the question, how long does it take for most people to see weight loss results? To answer this question properly, it’s important to look at the subject in a little more detail.
What is weight loss?
Put simply, weight loss takes place when we burn more calories than we consume. If we don’t consume enough calories over the course of a day, the body will start to burn body fat for energy.
We acquire calories both from food and drink, and we burn them with all daily activities, from breathing to exercising.
For most people, reducing their daily calorie intake will help them lose weight. There are, however, exceptions. People with issues such as thyroid disorders will struggle to lose weight, even if they do consume less.
Overall, for the majority of people, losing weight means being more active, and keeping an eye on calorie consumption, to ensure that calories burned are more than those consumed.
What can affect how quickly you lose weight?
With the above in mind, it’s also important to realise that the speed of weight loss can be affected by different factors. Different people lose weight in different places, and at different rates.
A person’s diet can play a big role in the success of a weight loss program. Some diets will accelerate weight loss, especially those with strict restrictions, such as no carbohydrates.
Diets involving low or no carbs can result in rapid weight loss, as restricting carb intake may also trigger water loss. This is because your body needs water to store carbohydrates. So if you’re not consuming carbs, then your body will get rid of the additional water, as it’s unneeded.
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So for most people, a low-carb diet will show noticeable weight loss results, excluding any complications such as thyroid disorders.
The amount of exercise each day, and the types of exercises performed, will influence one’s rate of weight loss. For those who want to lose weight, cardio exercises are a more preferred option.
Cardio is preferable as it does not require additional calories, whereas building muscle through weightlifting does. Those who want to lose weight, but build muscle, have to pay close attention to the foods they consume and ensure they’re prioritizing protein and fat over carbohydrates.
Those who do just cardio exercises needn’t worry about consuming lots of protein for building muscle mass. This means they can simply concentrate on exercises such as running or swimming, which will encourage the body to burn the calories stored in body fat.
The levels of activity in your day-to-day life will affect the rate of weight loss, and how soon you will notice results. For example, office workers who spend the majority of their time sitting will find it more difficult to lose weight than those who work in more physical jobs.
The activities that are part of your daily routine can have a positive effect on your weight loss results, especially when combined with regular exercise.
The bottom line is: the more sedentary you are in your daily life, the more difficult it will be to lose weight.
Everyone’s genetics are different, and some are blessed with a fast metabolism. Essentially, metabolism is the rate at which your body processes compounds. This includes burning calories to be used for energy, digesting food consumed, and retrieving stored energy from the body.
Those with higher metabolisms will burn through calories at a faster rate, and find it more difficult to put on weight. Overweight or obese people with high metabolisms tend to see faster weight loss from exercising, than those with slower metabolisms would.
Therefore, genetics can also play a role in people’s weight loss success rate.
A person’s body weight at the start of their weight loss journey can also affect results. Generally, the heavier someone is, the faster they will initially lose weight, as the body has plenty of fat stores to burn.
Losing weight may become more difficult as your body fat percentage becomes lower. Bodies naturally try to maintain some body fat to be used for tissue protection and homeostasis. So, as your body fat lowers, your weight loss results will decrease.
How long does it take to notice weight loss?
As we’ve covered above, individual weight loss journies will vary a lot. That being said, most people who commit to a lower-calorie diet will notice results in as little as one or two weeks, even if the weight loss is low.
The more drastic the changes are, whether lifestyle or dietary, the more noticeable weight loss results will be.
How long does it take for others to notice weight loss?
How noticeable your weight loss is to others depend on different factors. For example, someone who sees you daily, such as a colleague, may notice your weight loss more subtly, than someone you see once every few months. Someone who knows your body intimately, such as a partner or spouse, will probably notice weight loss sooner.
The clothes you dress in can also make weight loss more noticeable. Opt for tailored clothes over those with a baggier fit, in order to show off your weight loss results.
But will you really notice weight loss, yourself?
Given that we tend to underestimate our own weight, it may take longer for us to notice our own weight loss.
There have been studies that show we are less accurate at estimating our body size, and any fluctuations or changes in our weight. But, that depends on the individual, as people lose weight from different parts of their bodies.
For example, those who tend to hold their weight around their waist may notice a difference when they have to start using a different belt notch.
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The noticeability of weight loss depends on your frame and start weight. Around a 15 to 20lb loss is usually enough to notice significant changes.
For most people, the first few weeks of a weight loss journey are usually the most dramatic.
The first few weeks of a weight loss program are usually the most drastic due to water loss, rather than body fat loss.
Bodies need a certain water level to store carbs, which they then use for energy at a later point. If we eat fewer carbs, our bodies realise that they need to store less water, and shed the additional water late. This means individuals who start to follow low-carb diets may find that their stomachs become flatter.
Seeing noticeable changes in the initial weeks is great motivation, and it can help you to stay on track, even when results begin to slow down.
What about once you’ve started losing weight?
Once your body has shredded most of its extra water weight, the remaining weight loss will be either fat or muscle. The process of losing body fat tends to be slower, and it’s helped significantly by exercise, a form of active weight loss.
Cutting calories from one’s diet is passive weight loss, and the body will draw on extra calories from body fat stores. However, those who lead sedentary lifestyles will see limited results from passive weight loss.
Will you notice results in a specific area?
There’s no method to market weight loss from a particular body part. Some companies may claim to sell weight loss products that target stomach fat, for example, but this simply isn’t true.
Bodies can’t target fat in one area, as they simply burn through stored body fat for energy. This means that fat loss is spread out across the fat deposits in the body, so you will lose fat at an equal rate across these deposits.
That being said, fat loss may be more noticeable in some areas than others. If most of your fat is stored around your body, weight loss will be more concentrated around the stomach, as there are larger stores of fat there for the body to burn through.
What else can affect how you notice weight loss?
The number on the scales won’t always be a reliable indicator of weight loss results. There are other things that will make you notice your weight loss efforts.
Jumping on a set of scales won’t always be useful, as they don’t allow you to differentiate between whether lbs lost are from water, fat, or lean tissue.
Muscle weighs more than fat, so your exercise routine may mean you lose body fat but gain muscle, and therefore the number on the scale won’t really change. If you do want to track weight loss using scales, only weigh yourself from time to time.
The clothes we wear can really affect how noticeable weight loss results are. Baggy clothes tend to hide the body, and therefore disguise any weight loss results. Better fitting clothes will better show off the body shape.
How we stand
Posture can also affect how noticeable weight loss is. Individuals who hunch their shoulders when they sit or stand tend to crunch up parts of their body, which can make weight loss less noticeable.
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Contrastly, good posture, and standing straight, will stretch out the body and make fat deposits seem less concentrated. Try to maintain good posture during your weight loss journey, as this will make the results seem more noticeable, and it will also help prevent back issues further down the line.
The bottom line
Your weight loss results, and how noticeable they are, will vary depending on your body, and your approach to losing weight. For more rapid weight loss, ensure to commit to both exercise and fewer calories. However, be wary of restricting calories too much, as this is unhealthy and often leads to unsustainable eating habits, which can result in yo-yo dieting.
Achieve your weight loss goals
Losing weight can be a long and stressful journey and you’ll have your fair share of ups and downs when it comes to results. You may see losses on the scales but not see or feel them on your body for a long time, but it will happen.
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