How long does it take to start losing weight? I know you’re not going to like this answer, but it depends. Below are a few factors that affect weight loss and how rapidly (or not rapidly) you can lose weight.

Math & Numbers

Depending on your method of weight loss, you could notice a different within the first week of a new diet and exercise program.  The important thing to remember is that weight loss is a numbers game.  Now, before you start heemin’ & hawin’ about having to use a calculator, there’s only a few numbers you need to work with. Here we go:

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One pound is equal to 3500 kilocalories (calories) so to lose one pound, you will need to consume 3500 calories less than you expend through daily activities and intentional exercise.  Divided out over the week, this would be 500 calories less per day than you expend (3500/7days=500kcals). You have three options to achieve this deficit:

– Expend 500 kcals through an exercise session and keep food intake constant.

– Consume 500 kcals less per day and keep exercise and activities constant.

– Manipulate both variable and meet in the middle- consume 250 fewer kcals and expend 250 more kcals through exercise.

When manipulating food intake, American College of Sports Medicine recommends minimum intake of 1800kcals daily for men and 1200kcals daily for women.

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Hormones-Insulin

The hormones floating around your body, called your endocrine system, can have significant affects on how long it takes to start losing weight. Your endocrine system is like a giant chem lab, keeping everything in your body working on the right schedule and maintaining the status quo.  Some hormones, particularly insulin, like to tell your body to store the excess food you eat as fat. Insulin is triggered by sugars- breads, baked goods, sweets, candy- and helps transport those sugars, also called glucose, to the cells in your body.  When insulin is present, the cells in your body can readily use those available sugars for energy.  When insulin levels are low, our bodies use stored fat as an energy source.

It’s important to understand this process when it comes to weight loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, taking in more calories than you need to maintain a healthy weight causes your cells to get more glucose than they need-this accumulates as fat. This means that eating fewer calories over a period of time may result in weight loss, but you may not be maximizing your weight loss potential.  To ensure success, keep sugars, particularly simple sugars, to a minimum to keep insulin levels low.

Consistency & Commitment

When it comes to losing weight, there are a variety of methods out there that when followed to a “T” will work in your favor.  The key to any program is consistency and commitment, meaning your exercise & diet plan needs to be sustainable for the long haul. Temporary diets do not provide lasting weight loss, there is no “finish line” for your diet where once crossed, you can maintain your svelte physique forever.  Your body must be nourished and taken care of each and every day through nutritious foods and adequate physical activity.

Although the word “diet” has become synonymous with the word “extreme”, the American Council on Exercise advises healthy weight loss ranges from  ½-2 pounds per week- that means as much as 1/3 of a pound per day! That may not seem like a lot in the age of instant gratification and shows such as “The Biggest Loser” where constants pull upwards of 10 pound weight loss in one week, but slow and steady weight loss ultimately wins the race.

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