December 28, 2020

How Long Does it Take to Lose Weight?

Losing weight is a common goal for many people, but it’s important to set realistic expectations to avoid getting frustrated. It’s also important to remember that a number of factors come into play and that everybody’s weight loss journey will be different. 

How Weight Loss Works

Weight loss occurs when you consistently consume fewer calories than you burn each day. Conversely, weight gain occurs when you consistently consume more calories than you burn. The number of calories you burn each day is called energy expenditure, which is composed of the following three major components:

  • Resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is the number of calories your body needs to maintain normal bodily functions, like breathing and pumping blood.
  • Thermic effect of food (TEF). This refers to the calories used to digest, absorb, and metabolize food.
  • Thermic effect of activity (TEA). These are the calories you use during exercise. TEA can also include non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which accounts for the calories used for activities like yard work and fidgeting. 

Factors that Affect Weight Loss

There are several factors that affect the rate at which you lose weight. Many of these factors described below are out of your control:


Your fat-to-muscle ratio greatly affects your ability to lose weight. Because women typically have a greater fat-to-muscle ratio, they have a 5-10% lower RMR than men of the same height. That means that women generally burn 5-10% fewer calories than men at rest. 


As we age, our body’s composition changes – fat mass increases and muscle mass decreases. This change, along with other factors like the declining calorie needs of your major organs, contributes to a lower RMR. The decrease in your RMR can make weight loss more difficult as you age.

Calorie Deficit

In order to lose weight, you need to create a negative calorie balance. The extent of this calorie deficit affects how quickly you lose weight. For example, consuming 500 fewer calories a day for eight weeks will likely result in greater weight loss than eating 200 fewer calories a day.


Getting enough sleep is a crucial component of weight loss. Chronic sleep loss can significantly hinder weight loss and the speed at which you shed pounds. Even one night of sleep deprivation has been shown to increase your desire for high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods, such as cookies, cakes, sugary drinks, and chips. 

Medical Conditions

Illnesses, including depression and hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid produces too few metabolism-regulating hormones, can slow weight loss and encourage weight gain. 

Family History

There’s a well-established connection associated with people who have obesity that runs in the family that’s been known to affect weight loss. 

How Much Weight is Healthy to Lose Per Week?

It depends on the individual, but the standard is set at around 1-2 pounds a week. This refers to body fat. If you lose more than that, you run the risk of losing muscle, too. Rapid fat loss can cause imbalances of hunger hormones, which makes you want to eat more. The key to healthy and sustainable weight loss is to not starve yourself. Eating too few calories can lead to a reduced metabolic rate, which slows your weight loss. Then if you binge eat, your body will store the calories as a protective mechanism, which can lead to the ‘yoyo effect’.

How Long Does It Take to See Results?

If you’re losing 1-2 pounds a week, it takes about six to eight weeks before you’ll start noticing the results. If it takes longer for you, don’t be discouraged. Everyone’s body is different. You’ll probably notice that people you don’t see every day will be more likely to see a change in your appearance than those you’re around every day.

Sustainable Weight Loss Tips

If you want to lose weight safely in a way that you’ll actually be able to follow for more than a week, you should try incorporating these weight loss tips:

  • Set realistic weight loss goals. As stated earlier, aim for 1-2 pounds a week. Try to reduce your caloric intake by approximately 1,000 calories per day. 
  • Exercise regularly. Try to train 45-60 minutes four times a week. For the best results, incorporate a combination of resistance (weight) and cardiovascular training. Doing this consistently will keep you healthy and help you shed unwanted pounds.
  • Eat healthy, balanced meals. Limit your consumption of processed foods and refined sugars. Also try to cook more meals at home using healthy foods like fresh vegetables, lean proteins, fruits, low-fat dairy, and whole grains.
  • Control your portions. Be cautious of portion sizes with meals and snacks and try to eat to 80% full before getting more food. 

Learn More About Safe and Effective Weight Loss with Baptist Health

Beginning your weight loss journey is a big step in investing in your overall health well-being. Join one of our weight loss surgery seminars to hear directly from our surgeons and care team about everything it takes to achieve weight loss surgery success.

Next Steps and Useful Resources:

What You Should Know About Exercise After Bariatric Surgery [Podcast]
What are the Benefits and Advantages of Bariatric Surgery?
Take a Health Risk Assessment
Meet Our Team

Learn More.