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How Long Does It Take to Notice Weight Loss? It Depends.

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“But I’ve been on this diet/workout regimen for X amount of time! How long does it take to notice weight loss?”

We’ve all been there: we choke down yet another hundred grams of cabbage or broccoli or some other diet food while running our umpteenth hour on a treadmill, only to step on a scale and see that the needle barely moved an inch. What gives?

Generally, it takes around two to three weeks for you or anyone to notice any significant weight loss. Yes, it really does take that long, but remember: there are dozens, if not hundreds, of factors that determine weight loss, from your starting weight, your meal plan, the workout regimen you’re following, even your own unique body chemistry.

Keep this in mind next time you compare yourselves to Chris Pratt or Josh Peck’s weight loss programs; weight loss is an individual journey, and you need to pay attention to your own body and how it responds to the healthy decisions you’re making for it. So stop minding Star-Lord and Josh, and focus on YOU!

How Long Does it Take to Notice Weight Loss? Results Will Vary!

As mentioned, there are myriad of reasons that determine your weight loss results, ranging from something as simple as diet to something as complex as metabolic rates. In general, however, the most commonly cited reasons are: starting weight, diet and exercise plan, and frequency of weigh-ins. Again, this will differ from person to person, but these 3 factors are worth a closer look (and can help prevent you from sliding into despair if you notice that your weight loss has been slow!).

Starting Weight

Starting weight refers to the weight you’re at when you start your diet or exercise program. It has a very large impact on your noticeable results simply because of how it shapes your perception. For example, if your starting weight is 150 pounds and you lose 20 pounds, you will of course notice the weight loss. However, if you’re obese and you start at, say, 250 pounds, losing 20 pounds, while definitely admirable, might not be as noticeable.

Of course, one of the best ways to measure how much weight you’ve lost is with clothing size, and going down a size has a significant impact on how noticeable your weight loss is. But again, depending on your starting weight, this affects perception, only in this case it’s reversed: a person who goes down a dress size from a 5 to a 3 isn’t as noticeable as someone goes down from, say, a size 10 to 8.

Remember, also, that the heavier your starting weight, the faster your weight loss will be. This is because of two reasons:

  • Heavier people tend to have faster metabolic rates
  • It’s easier to cut down on your calorie intake

People who become overweight tend to consume more calories than their recommended daily allowance, which means that someone who consumes 4000 calories a day can easily cut out 2000 calories, whereas someone who stays within or below their calorie RDA would have a hard time cutting down 1000 calories.

Diet and Exercise Program

Speaking of calorie intake, your diet and exercise program will be the most important factor in weight loss, noticeable or otherwise.

Let’s get one thing straight: real, noticeable weight loss can only be achieved through a calorie deficit; that is, you will only notice your weight loss if you eat below your usual caloric intake. Weightlifting, cardio, and all your other exercise programs would be of little help to shedding the extra weight if you’re still pounding bacon cheeseburgers with every meal. Unfortunately, there is NO SUBSTITUTE FOR A PROPER DIET PLAN. Sorry to burst your bubble!

One of the best ways to control or restrict your calorie intake is through carbohydrate restriction. Diets like the Keto Diet encourage its dieters to restrict their carbs to a measly 20 grams a day (as compared to a ‘normal’ diet, which usually has upwards of 150 grams a day).

Pair that with an effective fat-burning exercise program, and you’ll start to notice your weight loss as early as two weeks in. Granted, of course, that you follow it strictly: remember that diet and exercise are only effective if you’re actually disciplined enough to follow them! Sure, you can cheat on your diet from time to time, maybe miss a couple of gym sessions, just don’t expect your weight to go down as fast as you’d like!

Frequency of Weigh-Ins

Your weight will fluctuate daily for a number of reasons, from your caloric intake for the day, how much water weight you’ve lost, etc. Naturally, weight loss is less noticeable if you weigh in daily: seeing those numbers go down 1 notch every couple of days is not going to feel like you’ve accomplished much.

The solution? Weigh yourself less often. Seriously. Not only are once-a-week-weigh-ins better for your weight loss program (as it gives you a more accurate reading of how much weight you’ve lost), it’s also better for your psyche: losing 10 pounds in a week feels and sounds better than losing 1 pound a day.

Noticeable Weight Loss: A Realistic Timeline

Again, weight loss is a highly personalized and individualistic journey that differs from person to person. That being said, noticeable weight loss can be seen within two, maybe three weeks. Less if you go on a crash diet (although that’s not exactly recommended!).

If you follow a strict diet and exercise program, however, you could expect to see results in certain points in time:

  • First week: This is a point in time when people are going hard on their workout and their diet; it’s pretty exciting, after all. Most people will start to see impressive weight loss at this point (2 to 5 pounds is a healthy number to lose in 1 week).
  • Second Week: Your old clothes start feeling loose on you, and your exercises start to become easier and easier. While you probably won’t see any increase in how much weight you’ve lost, you’ll find that you were able to maintain what you started in week one.
  • Third Week: Stay consistent, and by the third week, you’ll start seeing noticeable weight loss, like more defined muscles and facial features. At this point, you would have acclimated to your diet, and you’ll probably be working out a little more than you used to because you like the feeling.
  • Fourth Week: Your weight loss isn’t just noticeable; it’s undeniable! By this point, you would have gone down at least two clothing sizes, and you’ll be scrambling to find new clothes to replace your old ones. Your workout and diet aren’t just a program anymore, they’re an active part of your lifestyle.

Take It Easy and Don’t Lose Hope!

Again, weight loss journeys differ from person to person: some people might see noticeable weight loss results within their first week, others might not see or feel any difference until months after. What is important, however, is to keep going.

Take it easy on yourself: set weight loss goals, but don’t beat yourself up or lose hope if you don’t hit it exactly. Remember that any progress is good progress, and any active and healthy choices you make concerning your body will always be positive. Maintain your diet and exercise program, whether or not you see noticeable weight loss. Trust us, you’ll get there!

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