If you abandon your diet because you aren’t losing weight, don’t give up! It usually takes four weeks for you to notice a difference in yourself and six to eight weeks for others to notice.
Lasting weight loss requires long-term changes to your lifestyle. One essential change key to losing weight, is tracking your progress and celebrating weight loss milestones along the way.
If you’re ready to start your fitness journey, you’re probably anxious about seeing results. After all, actually seeing the scale move is what motivates us to keep up the behaviors getting us there.
Not seeing weight loss results can be discouraging, and it’s when most people give up a healthy plan.
Luckily, it doesn’t take too long for most people to see some changes after committing to weight loss. I’ve heard a number of people say that it takes about four weeks for you to notice a difference in yourself and six to eight weeks for others to notice. In truth, though, the exact timeline depends on your unique situation.
For me personally, it took me a good 4 weeks of being ULTRA consistent to start seeing results. It wasn’t until I was consistent for that long that I realized why so many diet attempts in the past didn’t work out. I gave up too quickly!!
There are a variety of factors that can speed up or slow down weight loss, so you have to consider your own circumstances when setting expectations for your weight loss results. Some people may see a big difference within just a few weeks, and others may need to persist for longer to make a noticeable change. (read my weight loss story here)
Here are five factors that can affect how long it takes for you to notice your weight loss results:
1. Starting Weight
As a general rule, people at a higher starting weight will see the number on the scale go down faster than people at a lower starting weight. When you weigh more, you burn more calories throughout the day simply by existing. It’s easier to create a larger calorie deficit, which leads to faster weight loss in terms of pounds. (how to calculate your personal calorie deficit)
However, weight loss might be more noticeable at first on someone starting at a lower weight. For example, a 5 lb loss is more significant for a 150 lb person than for a 300 lb person because 5 lbs is a greater percentage of their starting weight.
2. Calorie Intake
The number of calories you eat in a day is the most important factor in determining the speed of your weight loss. To lose 1 lb of fat, your body has to create a deficit of 3,500 calories, which means that you must consume 3,500 calories fewer than you burn. The easiest way to accomplish this is to reduce your daily calorie intake. (getting started with calorie counting)
If you eat 500 calories fewer than you burn in a day, you’ll have lost 1 lb of fat in a week. If you eat 1,000 fewer calories per day, you’ll lose 2 pounds per week. A bigger deficit results in faster weight loss, but you shouldn’t overdo it when it comes to cutting calories. A smaller calorie deficit is easier to stick to, so it can help you stay on track.
3. Diet Changes
You don’t necessarily have to make major changes to your diet to lose weight as long as you create a calorie deficit. However, improving the quality of your diet is always a great choice. If you switch from eating processed and high-sodium meals to healthier natural foods, you may notice a significant difference in the first few days. You’re losing water weight and reducing your bloat, so you may feel and look quite a bit leaner right away. (check out my meal plans here)
4. Activity Level
Your activity level determines the number of calories you burn as you live your life, which can have a major impact on your calorie deficit and weekly weight loss totals. The following are just a few of the factors that can affect how many calories you burn in a day:
- Having an active versus sedentary job
- How often you exercise
- How active your hobbies are
- Your starting weight
- Your body fat percentage and muscle mass
- Your age
Your consistency during your weight loss endeavor will affect how quickly you see results. If you’re less strict with your diet or exercise routine on the weekends, your results will happen more slowly. If you stick to your plan every single day, you’ll see faster progress. However, finding balance and being patient with yourself as you change your life is essential. (read about consistency over intensity!! This is a good one!)
How to Measure Weight Loss Progress
Healthy weight loss takes time, and it can be frustrating to put in so much effort and not see results right away. One of the best ways to combat this problem is to use multiple systems of measurement for your weight loss. This helps you see the full picture of your fitness journey and gives you more opportunities to notice your wins.
Your weight on the scale is the most obvious form of measurement if you’re trying to drop pounds. Some people like to weigh themselves daily, and others prefer weekly weigh-ins.
Weight isn’t your only option for measuring fat loss, though. You could also keep track of your waist circumference or other body measurements to see how your body is changing. There are plenty of reasons why your weight loss on the scale may stall, but if your body measurements go down, you can trust that you’re losing fat.
Progress photos can be a helpful weight loss tool as well. While photos don’t provide objective data like the scale or measuring tape, I find that comparing pictures taken a few weeks apart can reveal some dramatic changes. Because weight loss is so gradual, you don’t always notice how much your body has changed. With before and after pictures, though, you can truly see how far you’ve come.
You probably won’t see your weight loss results overnight, but you should always keep trying. No matter how much weight you want to lose, the process will be a series of baby steps that add up to something great. Trust that you’ll lose fat if you stay in a calorie deficit, and be patient with yourself while you wait for the results. Balanced, sustainable choices are the secret to losing weight and maintaining your results long-term.