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How long does it actually take to lose weight?

Set yourself up for weight loss success with realistic expectations.

What affects how long it takes to lose weight?


Wouldn’t it be lovely if we all lost weight at the same rate? Sadly, that’s not the case. Weight loss is individual and can be affected by lots of physical, hormonal, and lifestyle factors. To avoid disappointment and frustration, it’s important to understand what might affect your own rate of weight loss.

Age: As you get older, it can be more difficult to lose weight. This is partly because older bodies have less muscle mass, which affects metabolic rate. It can also be because older people tend to spend more time tied up with work and family life, and have less free time for sport and general activity.

Gender: In general, women have a harder time losing weight than men do. This is because women are smaller with less muscle mass.

Starting point


The more weight you have to lose, the more you are likely to shed at the start of a diet. As you have less to lose, it can seem harder. In actual fact, weight loss doesn’t slow down, but the percentage of weight you lose will drop.

Health issues can affect your weight loss, and how active you are able to be.

Activity and exercise: The more exercise and general everyday activity you do, the more weight you are likely to lose. It’s important to stay as active as possible when you diet.

Lifestyle: lifestyle factors can affect weight loss. Think about your support system, office environment, and the part food plays in your social and family life. Work, commuting, your schedule and routine all have an effect.

Patience and consistency: Your attitude to weight loss will affect how much you lose (and how you keep it off). Be patient, consistent, realistic and compliant with your sensible diet plan.

How much weight can you lose per week?


For most people, 1-2 lbs per week is a realistic rate of weight loss. But everyone has a different starting point. A better benchmark is 1-2% of your current weight. Keep to this percentage throughout your diet, and the amount you expect to lose will fall (in line with your new lighter body weight). This keeps things realistic as you get lighter.

Factors that could slow your weight loss down


Are you still eating the same amount as you did when you were heavier? Remember that, as you get lighter, you need fewer calories. Adjust your dieting calories to reflect your new lighter body weight.

Have you stopped being active? Look at your daily step count, your everyday activity, and your workout plan. Increase your activity levels and weight loss will speed up again.

How to speed up weight loss


You can’t do anything about your age or gender. But there’s plenty you can do about the other factors in the list at the start of this article.

Look at your current body weight. Adjust your calories so you are still eating in a calorie deficit. This might mean reducing your calories.

Get more active. Can you walk more often, or walk further? Do manual chores around the house, and try swapping the car for short journeys on foot or by bike.

Do strength training. It’s important to keep your muscle mass as you diet, because this is what will keep your metabolic rate higher. This will help you burn more calories.

Look at your lifestyle and routine. Are there any barriers to weight loss? These could include how your kitchen is laid out (put tempting foods out of sight, and keep healthy foods within reach).

Drink plenty of water, get good quality sleep every night, and stay patient with weight loss. It will happen. But remember it’s not always as fast as we would hope for!

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