Patience is key - Next Health explains the timeline for weight loss results. Stay motivated on your journey to achieve a healthier you. Read more today.
Many people go on individual weight loss journeys at one point or another, especially as they get older and their metabolisms slow down. Although the fundamentals of weight loss are the same for every person, some folks can see weight loss results in a matter of weeks, while others may have to exercise and diet for months before they are rewarded.
So, just how long does it take to see weight loss results for most people? Let’s answer this question in more detail.
At its most basic level, weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. Our bodies store calories for future energy needs when we eat more than required for a given day. When we don’t eat enough calories for the day’s energy needs, our bodies will utilize the energy from stored calories in body fat.
Your calories are only acquired through the food you eat and the beverages you drink. You burn calories by going about daily activities, exercising, and even breathing.
Most people can lose weight by reducing the number of calories they consume each day. But, there are a few exceptions. For example, individuals with thyroid disorders may have difficulty losing weight even if they eat fewer calories.
But for most people, weight loss is a matter of balancing activity levels against calorie intake. The more active you are and are aware of your calorie consumption, the faster you may see weight loss results.
That said, the speed at which someone loses weight can be affected by several key factors. Everyone loses weight differently, both at different rates and in different places.
For instance, one’s diet can have a major role in how quickly you might see weight loss results. Certain diet plans may result in accelerated weight loss relative to other plans, such as those with intense food restrictions.
Diets that include fewer carbohydrates may also lead to rapid weight loss. Why? Restricting carbs may lead to rapid water loss as well. Since your body requires water to store carbohydrates for energy, this causes a cascading effect – first, you lose carbs, then your body sheds additional water since it doesn’t need more water to store those carbs.
The result? For many people, it’s rapidly noticeable weight loss. However, any diet that constricts the number of calories you consume each day will eventually result in weight loss, barring any biological complications or disorders.
Each person’s genetics are unique, and some people are lucky enough to have a fast metabolism. Your metabolism can best be understood as the rate at which it processes compounds, including burning calories for energy, digesting food, and retrieving stored energy in the form of carbs or fat for energy needs.
The higher or faster your metabolism, the faster you'll burn through calories and the harder it will be to put on weight in the first place. Overweight individuals with fast metabolisms may find that exercise is a little more effective for their weight loss results compared to individuals with slow metabolisms.
Simply put, weight loss results can vary from person to person because each individual's genetics will affect how quickly and where weight is lost.
Besides caloric intake and burn, our DNA/genetics plays an important role in understanding how our body uses and stores calories amongst other important pathways. Our Next Health 3x4 Genetic Test can tell you how your body extracts, absorbs, burns, distributes, stores and wastes carbohydrates, and glucose. The genetics test can also tell you how your body should be exercising, training, resting, how prone you are to injury, muscle power, fatigue, and endurance.
Your genetic/ DNA makeup will not change, so you only need to perform this test once. Although you cannot change your DNA, you can change the way it is expressed by understanding how your body can perform at its highest.
The types of exercises performed – and the amount of exercise you get each day – can also influence how rapidly one may see weight loss results. Generally, one to two hours of cardiovascular exercise is preferred for individuals who want to lose weight.
That’s because cardiovascular exercise burns many calories but does not require additional calories to build muscle as weight lifting does. When a person wants to lose weight and build muscle, they must carefully moderate what foods they consume, prioritizing protein and fat over carbohydrates to lose body fat.
When a person does cardio exercises, they don’t need to worry about consuming lots of protein to build muscle. Instead, they can simply run, swim, bike, or perform other exercises and burn calories to force their body to consume stored fat.
What you do in your day-to-day life can affect how quickly you can lose weight and how fast that weight loss will be noticed. Individuals with sedentary lifestyles may find it challenging to get rid of initial fat deposits. Any weight loss will be less noticeable than individuals whose bodies are used to a certain level of activity.
Certain daily activities can positively affect your weight loss results, especially with a solid exercise routine. For example, cryotherapy has a known effect on weight loss because cryotherapy accelerates your metabolism, forces your body to burn additional calories, and provides ancillary physiological effects.
If you are interested in cryotherapy sessions to help support your weight loss efforts, sessions can be booked at several Next Health locations. Alternative therapies, such as IV therapy, could improve your overall health and even boost your metabolic rate.
Bottom line: what you do in your day-to-day life will impact how quickly your body sheds excess weight. The more sedentary you are, the harder it may be to lose weight initially.
Lastly, an individual’s starting size or weight may also affect weight loss results. In general, the heavier a person is, the faster they will lose weight initially since the body has rich stores of body fat to draw from for energy needs.
However, losing extra weight may be more difficult as your body fat percentage decreases. Both male and female bodies naturally want to maintain a little body fat for homeostasis and tissue protection. The closer you are to low body fat, the slower your weight loss results will be.
As you can see, individual weight-loss experiences and time frames can vary heavily. However, most people who start dieting by cutting out a certain amount of calories each day will see results within one to two weeks, even if it’s just one pound lost.
The more intense the lifestyle and dietary changes you undertake, the faster your weight loss results will be noticeable, and the more dramatic those results will be.
For example, if a person cuts out only 100 cal from their daily diet, they might see a weight loss of one pound or so within two to three weeks if they are already somewhat overweight. If a person cuts 500 cal from their daily diet and performs 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day, they could theoretically see weight loss results of one to two pounds per week for the first 4-8 weeks of their weight loss journey.
In the earliest days of weight loss, the first weeks are usually the most dramatic and noticeable.
Why are the initial weeks of a new diet or exercise regimen marked by significant weight loss results? It's usually because of water loss, not necessarily body fat loss.
As touched on above, our bodies need a certain amount of water to store carbohydrates, which our bodies then use for energy later down the road. As we eat fewer carbohydrates – or as we give our bodies fewer carbohydrates to store for long-term energy by exercising more regularly – our bodies detect that they need less water.
Therefore, our bodies shed that additional water weight. Many individuals find that their stomachs become flatter, or their weight loss results are concentrated around the abdomen. These early losses can feel quite dramatic because they are. Only two cups of water can translate into about one pound of bodyweight.
The initial weeks of excellent weight loss results are also important for maintaining motivation. Most weight loss journeys take months, if not years, to complete. Getting early, positive results can motivate you to stick with a dietary regimen even when the results slow down.
Once your body sheds most or all of its extraneous water weight, any remaining weight loss will be in fat or muscle. Body fat loss is usually slower and is significantly aided by exercise. That’s because exercise is a form of proactive weight loss, while cutting out calories is a form of passive weight loss.
If you only cut out calories from your diet, your body will passively draw extra calories from your body fat over time. But if you have a sedentary lifestyle, those caloric draws will be relatively small or minor.
In contrast, if you go on a diet and exercise, your body will actively take calories from your body’s fat stores. Over time, the fat stores will be depleted, usually at a much faster rate than if you diet alone.
Still, further fat loss results usually come at a rate of about one pound per week if following a dedicated dietary and exercise regimen. If you only diet, you may see weight loss results at about one pound per month or so, depending on your activity level and personal metabolic rate.
Some extreme weight loss results have been recorded in the past. Extreme dieters and exercises can lose dozens of pounds per month and hundreds of pounds per year. But these lifestyle changes do require a complete revamp of one’s dietary habits and exercise routines.
Yes, but there’s no way to target weight loss results. Commercial weight loss pills and other “one weird trick” products may claim that their solutions target stomach fat, butt fat, arm fat, and other fat deposits on the body. These are always false.
Our bodies cannot target fat in one area as they burn through stored up energy. Instead, fat loss is usually equalized around all major fat deposits in the body. Once water weight is lost, you will likely lose fat at a proportionally equal rate everywhere instead of burning through the fat deposit in one area first, then moving to another fat deposit, and so on.
This may still cause some areas of the body to lose more visible weight more quickly than others. For example, if your stomach holds most of your extraneous body fat, but your arms hold a little bit of extra body fat, most of your weight loss results will be concentrated in the stomach area since there’s more fat to burn there.
It’s also important to note that weight loss results aren’t everything when it comes to looking great or looking like your exercise routine provides major results fast.
While a body weight scale can be helpful when targeting certain weight loss benchmarks, it’s not always reliable. The scale doesn’t tell you what pounds were lost because of your diet and exercise (i.e., water, fat, lean tissue, etc.).
Therefore, your scale should only be used from time to time to take note of your progress. You might notice that you look a little better but haven’t lost any weight according to the scale. That could be, for example, because you packed on additional muscle but shed some bodyweight, so you look better in aggregate even if your weight is the same.
At Next Health, we provide the InBody Scan, a premier body composition analysis that goes beyond your weight and breaks down your body into these four main categories: weight, muscle mass, body fat percentage, and water weight. Having a clear understanding of your fat, muscle, and body levels empowers you to make positive adjustments in whatever your health goals may be.
Our clothing can significantly affect whether weight loss results are noticeable.
For example, baggy clothes typically hide the body’s frame and hide any lost pounds over the last few weeks. Clothes that conform to the body or that are more well-fitted will show off your new shape more dramatically and may help your weight-loss results seem even more dramatic than they might be.
Your posture may also affect how easily your weight loss is noticed. Individuals who slump more hunch when they walk or stand still may crunch up certain areas of their bodies, making any weight loss results seem a little less significant.
In contrast, standing up straight with correct back posture will stretch out the body’s tissues and prevent fat deposits from seeming as concentrated. As you lose weight, you may also decide to practice good posture. Not only will this make your weight loss results seem more significant, but you’ll also do yourself a favor by preventing the onset of back problems.
All in all, it can take anywhere from one week to several months to see noticeable weight loss results.
It all depends on your daily activity level, your exercises, and how much you eat each day. Combining good exercise, a smart diet, and calorie-burning activities like cryotherapy can go a long way toward boosting your weight loss results and accelerating your journey to a great body.
Want to know more about cryotherapy or how certain next-generation therapies may help you reach your wellness goals? Next Health is here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or for more information.
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Medically reviewed by Next Health Clinical Director, Jessica Brewer