How long does it take to start seeing weight loss results?

This is not a cut and dry answer of x number of days or weeks because there are a few things to take into consideration.

10 Factors to Consider:

  1. How were you eating before you started dieting? Generally, individuals are eating too many calories to maintain or lose weight. Once calories are lowered to create a calorie deficiency then individuals may experience quick weight loss results. This could also come from increasing more whole food choices, reducing processed foods, and limiting eating out. If you tend to not eat enough food, you may see weight gain due to an increase in food.

  2. Are you eating more food now than before?
    A common response when receiving a macro recommendation for weight loss is, “That is a lot of food. Are these recommendations right for weight loss?” If you have been undereating, you may have recently increased your calories for your weight loss goals which results in more food volume in your body, more food in your digestive tract, and maybe more water retention from an increase in carbs. You may even feel more bloated or fluffy with the increase in carbs.

    You may have been maintaining weight or gaining weight eating fewer calories but this could be the result of metabolic adaptations. The increase in calories might be the best step for you to start seeing weight loss results. It may take a few weeks or months to have your metabolism adapt to your higher calorie intake before you start to see weight loss. 

  3. Are you 100% dialed in with your nutrition?
    This is a critical factor for success. On average it may take 1 month or more for someone new to macros to adjust to tracking nutrition and get dialed in. If you are only at 75% dialed in then 75% is all the results you can expect. Give yourself time to learn the skills of tracking your nutrition accurately even on the weekends. Time after time people say that weekends are when they “fall off the wagon”. If you are not keeping your deficiency untacked on the weekends this could result in reducing or eliminating your calorie deficiency for the week and slow results.

  4. Females: Do you have normal menstruation cycles?
    Women have hormonal fluctuations through the month that result in different water retention variables. Typically, you will have two weeks where water retention is higher and two lower weeks. Don’t forget the week before you cycle begins and cravings set it. This can be a challenging week when we eat a sleeve of cookies and feel we messed up. This can lead to multiple days of eating outside of your calorie intake. Your metabolism spikes the week before your cycle begins. Consider upping your carbs by 20-30 grams the few days your cravings are higher.

    A good way to measure success is to compare month one with month two for like weeks. 

  5. Do you have underlying digestive or medical conditions?
    You can do everything right with your nutrition and training but if you have an underlying condition that is posing challenges you may have to consider your weight loss might take longer than the average person. Make sure you are educating yourself on the proper diet and exercise for your unique situation.

  6. Have you just started a new workout program or increased training?
    You might have heard of newbie gains. If you are new to working out you might experience the ability to gain muscle while losing body fat so you might not see scale changes but your body composition might start changing. Generally, when you start a new training plan your body experiences soreness from the new movement. Soreness from training equals water retention in the muscle tissue for repair.

  7. Are you monitoring water, fiber and sodium intake, bowel movements, sleep, and stress, ?
    The scale is a super fun tool to measure progress (heavy on the sarcasm). There are many factors to consider when weighing yourself and determining if you are seeing results. These are just a few of the big ones. Water intake paired with fiber can move waste out of your body. If you are not having daily bowel movements you might want to take a look at these two variables. Sodium intake varies day to day based on the foods you eat and it can spike when you eat out. Being aware of your average sodium intake and comparing weight to sodium intake can uncover a weight spike. Sleep and stress are important factors in managing cortisol. If you are highly stressed and not experiencing deep sleep your cortisol levels could be elevated which can result in water retention.

    Here are all the variables that can effect the number on the scale: https://med3fitness.com/2015/10/screw-the-scale/

  8. How much weight do you have to lose?
    The optimal rate of weight loss for an individual is .5 to 1% of total bodyweight per week. If you have a higher amount of weight to lose then your weight loss per week would be higher 1-2 lbs or more. If you are leaner and have less body fat to lose you might be looking at a .25 to .5 lbs per week.

  9. What tools are you using to measure progress?
    There are a couple recommend tools: scale, measurements, and pictures.
    • Pictures should be taken at a minimum of four weeks apart and compared.
    • Measurements two to four weeks apart. When taking measurements, take the measurement three times and document the average of the three.
    • The scale is your daily tool. Take your weight daily, average your weight over seven days and compare week to week to determine progress. Anything less may be less effective. NOTE: Obviously people have different opinions on this but the best analysis of data comes from more data not less.

  10. How big is your calorie deficiency?
    Your calorie deficiency determines the rate of weight loss. Generally, calorie deficiencies for weight loss are set between 250 to 500 calories per day depending on the person. The calorie deficiency can come from nutrition, which is the easiest, or can be created from daily activity including exercise. Typical weekly scale weight loss: Females is .5 to 1 pounds, Males 1 to 2 pounds.

In summary, the answer to the question, “How long does it take to start seeing weight loss results?”, it depends.

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