How Long Does It Actually Take to Lose Weight?

Hey Angels and Alphas,

If you’re on a weight loss journey right now, you’re probably used to having more questions than answers. Whether you want to lose weight for that one special occasion, for summer, or to improve your health, weight loss is one of the most common fitness goals, and we should all make an effort to learn more about how it works and why we should do it.

And this means that, if we want to set realistic expectations and achieve the desired outcome, we have to know what healthy weight loss rates look like for us.

That’s why today, we’re going to talk about the different factors that come in play when we’re setting weight loss goals, and how we can get a genuinely healthy result instead of chasing fast weight loss. Let’s get right into it.

First of all, how does weight loss *actually* happen?

In order to achieve any weight loss goal you set, one thing is guaranteed – weight loss will only occur when the amount of calories you consume is consistently lower than the amount of calories you burn every day.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, weight gain happens precisely when you’re consistently taking in more calories than you’re burning.

Every food and every beverage you eat or drink counts toward your total daily intake.

However, burning calories is a little more complicated. Burning calories, also known as calorie or energy expenditure, is composed of the three following factors:

  • TEA – Your thermic effect of activity. These are the numbers of calories you burn while you’re exercising. TEA also accounts for non-exercise activity thermogenesis, meaning the calories you burn for your daily activities such as walking to the office or running to the store.
  • TEF – Thermic effect of food. This accounts for the calories that the body burns just from digesting, absorbing, and metabolizing the food you eat.
  • RMR – Your resting metabolic rate. This number includes the calories your body needs to go on about its daily bodily functions. Breathing, pumping blood, etc. 

If the number of calories you take in is precisely or almost the same as the number of calories you burn, this means you’ll maintain your current body weight.

And if you want to lose weight, your number one goal should be to create a negative calorie balance, meaning you consume fewer calories than you burn, or just partake in more activity so you can burn more calories.

This is what weight loss is. Anything else that further expands on this topic will stem from this original fact. Don’t make weight loss more complicated than it needs to be – weight loss happens when you’re burning more calories than you take in, and you do this consistently every day until you reach your target weight range.

That being said, there are many factors that affect *your* individual weight loss efforts, and some of them are out of your control.

Factor #1 – Your age.

As we get older, one of the things that tend to happen is that we experience a few changes in our body composition – primarily fat mass increasing, and muscle mass decreasing.

This, along with other facts such as our declining calorie needs (of most of our body’s systems), contributes to having a lower resting metabolic rate.

Adults over the age of seventy could even have a resting metabolic rate up to 25 percent lower than those of younger adults. As we age, this decrease in RMR can make weight loss a tad bit more difficult.

Factor #2 – Your gender.

As you know, your fat-to-muscle ratio directly impacts your ability to lose weight

And because women typically have a higher fat-to-muscle ratio than men, women have, on average, a 7 percent lower RMR than men of the same height. This means women burn fewer calories at rest, therefore men tend to lose weight more quickly than women if they’re following the same exact diet.

Factor #3 – Your current weight.

The body mass and composition you have when you start losing weight also affect how quickly you can expect to lose weight. Weight loss does get more complex here since we have to understand that absolute weight loss can be different than relative weight loss in different individuals.

That’s why the National Institute of Health has a Bodyweight Planner that can even guide you on how much you can lose based on your current age, gender, weight, and so on.

Factor #4 – Your sleep patterns.

Sleep is probably the most overlooked factor in weight loss, but it’s SO important. Chronic sleep loss absolutely demolishes your chances to lose weight, and the speed at which you can lose it.

Studies have shown even one single night of sleep deprivation will increase your desire for high-calorie foods such as cakes, chips, cookies, and more.

And there are many more…

There are also other factors that play a role in your weight loss efforts, such as your genes and family history, medical conditions, medications you’re taking, the diets you’ve done, and more.

But the fact is, weight loss does boil down to consuming less calories than you burn in the majority of the time. That’s why considering all these different factors, and the weight loss result we want to achieve, we can get a pretty clear picture of how fast we can expect to achieve that result.

So what does safe, healthy weight loss look like for us?

It’s no secret to anyone – most people hope for fast, rapid weight loss. But the reason they rarely succeed is that nobody should want or aim to lose too much weight too quickly.

Fast weight loss can lead to complications such as dehydration, malnutrition, gallstones, fatigue, irritability, hair loss, muscle loss, headaches, and more! That’s quite the list!

Though weight loss could occur more quickly at the very start of a weight loss program, experts recommend that healthy weight loss should be somewhere in the range of 1-3 pounds (or 0.45 kg to 1.35kg) per week, or in other words, about 1 percent of your current body weight.

And considering that weight loss is not a linear, but rather an up-and-down kind of process, some weeks you may lose more, and some weeks you might lose less.

That’s why it’s important that you don’t get discouraged at the first sight of slowing down. If you want to keep your spirits up and make more efficient progress, experts recommend keeping a food diary to track your calories, weight, and progress. Using these types of self-monitoring techniques will dramatically increase your chances of achieving that desired weight goal.

To wrap up…

We can summarize that even though there are many factors to weight loss, weight loss will occur when you eat fewer calories than you’re burning. The different factors such as age, weight, starting weight, and sleep, can only stop you from losing weight when you don’t realize their significance to the process.

Aiming to keep yourself accountable and track your progress, while staying within the healthy weight loss range of 1-3 pounds (or 0.45 kg to 1.35kg) per week, is the safest and most sustainable way to reach your goal and get the body you desire.