What Is the Average Time to Lose Weight?

Weight loss is a common goal for many people, whether they want to lose weight for a special occasion or simply to improve their health.

To help you set realistic expectations, you may want to learn the average rate of weight loss for a healthy person.

This article discusses the factors that contribute to the length of time it takes to lose weight.

What Is the Average Time to Lose Weight? - Photo by Elena Kloppenburg
What Is the Average Time to Lose Weight? – Photo by Elena Kloppenburg

The mechanism by which weight loss occurs

Weight loss occurs when you consume fewer calories each day than you burn.

On the other hand, weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than you burn on a consistent basis.

Any food or beverage that contains calories contributes to your total calorie intake.

Having said that, the number of calories burned each day, referred to as energy or calorie expenditure, is a little more complicated.

Calorie expenditure is made up of three major components:

  • RMR (Reduced metabolic rate at rest). This is the number of calories your body requires to perform basic bodily functions such as breathing and blood pumping.
  • Food has a thermogenic effect (TEF). This term refers to the calories expended on digestion, absorption, and metabolization of food.
  • Activity has a thermogenic effect (TEA). This is the number of calories burned during exercise. TEA may also include non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which accounts for calories burned while performing tasks such as yard work and fidgeting.

If the number of calories consumed equals the number of calories burned, your body weight is maintained.

To lose weight, you must create a negative calorie balance by either consuming fewer calories than you burn or increasing your activity level.

Weight loss occurs when you consume fewer calories each day than you burn.

Weight-loss-related factors

Numerous variables influence the rate at which you lose weight. You have no control over a large number of them.

The gender

Your fat-to-muscle mass ratio has a significant impact on your ability to lose weight.

Women, on average, have a higher fat-to-muscle ratio than men, resulting in a 5–10% lower RMR than men of the same height.

This means that women burn approximately 5–10% fewer calories than men at rest. Thus, men tend to lose weight more quickly than women on an equal calorie diet.

For example, an eight-week study involving over 2,000 participants on an 800-calorie diet discovered that men lost 16 percent more weight than women, with men losing 11.8 percent of their body weight relative to women losing 10.3 percent.

While men lost weight more quickly than women, the study did not examine gender differences in weight maintenance ability.

The age

Among the numerous bodily changes associated with aging are changes in body composition — an increase in fat mass and a decrease in muscle mass.

This change, combined with other factors such as the declining calorie requirements of your major organs, results in a decreased RMR.

Indeed, older adults may have RMRs that are 20%–25% lower than those of younger adults.

With age, this decrease in RMR can make weight loss more difficult.

Point of departure

Your initial body mass and composition may also have an effect on the rate of weight loss.

It’s critical to understand that in different individuals, different absolute weight losses (in pounds) can correspond to the same relative (percentage) weight loss. At the end of the day, weight loss is a complicated process.

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Body Weight Planner provides an accurate estimate of how much weight you can lose based on your starting weight, age, gender, and the number of calories you consume and expend (7).

While a heavier person may lose twice as much weight, a lighter person may lose an equal percentage of their body weight (10/250 = 4% versus 5/125 = 4%).

For instance, a 300-pound (136-kg) person may lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) after two weeks of reducing daily calorie intake by 1,000 calories and increasing physical activity.

A lack of calories

To lose weight, you must create a negative calorie balance. The magnitude of this calorie deficit has an effect on the rate at which you lose weight.

For instance, consuming 500 fewer calories daily for eight weeks will likely result in greater weight loss than consuming 200 fewer calories daily.

However, take care not to create an excessive calorie deficit.

Not only would this be unsustainable, but it would also put you at risk of nutritional deficiencies. Additionally, it may increase your likelihood of losing weight in the form of muscle mass rather than fat mass.


Sleep is frequently overlooked but is a critical component of weight loss.

Chronic sleep deprivation can significantly slow weight loss and the rate at which you lose weight.

A single night of sleep deprivation has been shown to increase your desire for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods such as cookies, cakes, sugary beverages, and chips.

In a two-week study, participants on a calorie-restricted diet were randomly assigned to sleep 5.5 or 8.5 hours each night.

Sleeping 5.5 hours per night resulted in a 55% reduction in body fat and a 60% increase in lean body mass compared to sleeping 8.5 hours per nigh.

As a result, chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to be strongly associated with type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

Other variables

Numerous other variables can influence your weight loss rate, including the following:

  • Medications. Numerous medications, including antidepressants and other antipsychotics, can either promote or impede weight loss.
  • Medical problems. Depression and hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces insufficient metabolism-regulating hormones, can both slow weight loss and promote weight gain.
  • Genealogy and family history. There is a well-established genetic component to overweight or obesity, and it may have an effect on weight loss .
  • Dieting on a whim. This pattern of weight loss and regaining can make weight loss more difficult with each attempt, as the RMR decreases .


Weight loss is influenced by a variety of factors, including age, gender, and sleep. Additionally, certain medical conditions, your genetics, and the use of certain medications all play a role.

The most effective diet for weight loss?

With an abundance of weight loss diets on the market, each promising impressive and rapid results, it can be difficult to determine which one is the best.

Despite the fact that creators and supporters believe their programs are superior to the competition, there is no single best weight loss diet.

For instance, while low-carb diets such as keto may initially aid in weight loss, studies reveal no significant differences in long-term weight loss.

What matters most is your ability to maintain a low-calorie, healthy eating pattern.

However, many people find it difficult to maintain a very low calorie diet for an extended period of time, which is why the majority of diets fail.

To increase your chances of success, limit your calorie intake to a moderate level, tailor your diet to your preferences and health, or consult a registered dietitian.

Combine diet and exercise, including aerobic and resistance training, to maximize fat loss while avoiding or minimizing muscle loss.

By avoiding highly processed foods and increasing your intake of healthy, whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and proteins, you can aid in weight loss and overall health.

SUMMARY: For the majority of people, adhering to a weight loss diet is difficult. Whatever your goals are, tailor your diet to your personal preferences and health status.

Weight loss at a safe rate

While the majority of people desire rapid weight loss, it is critical to avoid losing too much weight too quickly.

Rapid weight loss can result in an increased risk of gallstones, dehydration, and malnutrition.

Additionally, rapid weight loss has the following adverse effects:

    • Headaches
    • Irritation
    • fatigue.
    • constipation.
    • Hair thinning
    • During irregular menstrual cycles
    • Muscle atrophy

Though weight loss may occur more quickly at the beginning of a program, experts recommend losing 1–3 pounds (0.45–1.36 kg) per week, or approximately 1% of your body weight.

Additionally, keep in mind that weight loss does not occur in a linear fashion. You may lose more weight some weeks than others, or you may lose none at all.

Therefore, do not become discouraged if your weight loss slows or plateaus temporarily.

Maintaining a food diary and regularly weighing yourself may assist you in staying on track.

Self-monitoring techniques, such as tracking dietary intake and weight, have been shown to be more effective at losing and maintaining weight than those who do not.

SUMMARY: Rapid weight loss can result in complications such as gallstones, muscle loss, and extreme fatigue. Experts recommend a weekly weight loss of between 1 and 3 pounds (0.45–1.36 kg), or about 1% of your body weight.

The gist

When you consume fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight.

Numerous variables influence how quickly you lose weight, including your gender, age, starting weight, sleep, and the magnitude of your calorie deficit.

Pursuing a weekly weight loss goal of 1–3 pounds (0.45–1.36 kg) is a safe and sustainable way to accomplish your goals.

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