How Long Does It Take To Lose Weight? What I’ve Learned From Losing Over 250 Pounds

Losing weight can be a challenging task. The amount of weight you lose and how long it takes to lose weight can vary greatly from one individual to the next due to several factors, which are discussed in this article.

how long does it take to lose weight?

What is Weight Loss?

When you set out on a weight loss journey, the intent is typically to reduce your body weight. This is typically done by decreasing the amount of body fat you have. Although the intent is usually to improve your overall health and well-being, some people also want to lose weight for aesthetic reasons, which is not uncommon. 

There are many different reasons people want to lose weight and many ways to approach weight loss. There is never a one-size approach, and sometimes a single person may need to try multiple approaches to weight loss before finding success. 

Importance of a Healthy Weight

Whether you are 5 pounds or 100 pounds overweight, it can negatively impact your physical or mental health, potentially both. 

When you are able to maintain a healthy weight, your quality of life will likely be improved. One reason for this is that carrying excess weight, especially in the form of body fat, can increase the risk of various health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and joint problems. All of these things can negatively impact your quality of life, which is why being a healthy weight is so important. 

Living life at a healthy weight makes you more likely to have improved energy levels, mobility, and self-esteem. I don’t know about you, but when I have a good amount of energy, can move well, and feel good about myself, my whole outlook on life seems to be more positive. 

While weighing a healthy amount is not the end-all for health and life satisfaction, it is one of the factors you have some control over. So if you can change your weight to improve your quality of life, it is absolutely worth a shot. 

Factors Affecting How Long It Takes to Lose Weight

Many factors can contribute to your individual ability to lose weight and how long reaching your weight loss goal can take you. For some people, losing weight starts off quickly and then gets drastically harder. Many people have to try different weight loss methods as one may start to be less effective or become too challenging to stick to. 

Initial Weight and Body Composition 

The weight you start at may have a lot to do with how quickly you start losing weight and how much you can lose in a certain amount of time. The reality is that the more you weigh and the more body fat you have when you start your weight loss journey, the more likely you are to experience more rapid weight loss right up front. However, as weight loss progresses, the loss rate may slow down.

While a person with 40% body fat may be able to lose 20 pounds in just one month, a person with 25% body fat who wants to lose 20 pounds may need an entire year to lose that much weight.

Metabolism and Genetics

Many internal factors make up individual differences in your ability to lose weight and the rate of weight loss you may experience. Metabolic rate, which is influenced by factors such as genetics, age, and muscle mass, can affect the speed at which weight loss occurs. When you have a higher metabolic rate, you tend to burn calories more quickly and may experience faster weight loss than those with slower metabolisms. 

This is one of the reasons that it is often recommended that you add strength training to your weight loss plan. Adding strength training to your workout routine helps to build muscle mass and can encourage your metabolism to speed up. This means you can burn more calories in a resting and exercising state. 

Gender and Age 

You have probably heard people talk about how losing weight gets more challenging as you age, and while it is possible, it can definitely be harder than in your younger years. Both gender and age can impact how long it takes you to lose weight. Men tend to have higher metabolic rates and more muscle mass than women, making it easier for them to lose weight faster than women. In addition to that, as you age, your metabolism slows down, making weight loss more challenging. This can be especially true for post-menopausal women due to changes in their hormones.

Activity Level and Exercise Routine

It is no secret that staying physically active plays a crucial role in weight loss. When you exercise regularly or lead an active lifestyle in general, you tend to burn more calories and may experience more efficient and healthy weight loss. 

The type of exercise you do, how hard you exercise, and how frequently you move your body can greatly impact how long it takes to lose weight. This is because all of these things will impact how many calories you burn daily, and calories out versus calories in is important for weight loss success and how long it takes to lose weight. You may be able to lose weight without as big of a decrease in calorie intake due to your increase in calorie output.

Dietary Choices and Calorie Intake

How makes calories you take in is also a significant factor in weight loss. Consuming fewer calories than the body requires creates a calorie deficit, leading to weight loss. The rate at which weight loss occurs can vary based on an individual’s caloric intake, macronutrient distribution, and overall dietary choices. When you exercise, you burn more calories than when staying sedentary, so you are creating a greater calorie deficit. 

Don’t forget that weight loss is a complex and highly individualized process. Various factors interact and influence each other, making it difficult to predict exactly how long it will take you to lose weight. You should approach weight loss in a sustainable and gradual way. Make sure you consider long-term lifestyle changes rather than quick fixes, as this is more likely to lead to long-lasting success and decrease your chances of experiencing weight gain later on.

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Safe and Sustainable Weight Loss 

Losing weight quickly can feel exciting if you have been working hard, and everyone wants to see quick results. However, it is not always a great sign as losing weight too quickly is often not sustainable long-term and may cause health issues down the road

You should aim for a gradual and sustainable weight loss rate of 1-2 pounds (0.5-1 kg) per week. This is generally recommended as the safe rate of weight loss. This requires a weekly calorie deficit of 3500-7000 calories or a 500 to 1000 calorie deficit per day. This rate allows for healthier adjustments to the body and is more likely to result in long-term weight maintenance. 

Keep in mind that it is generally not recommended to eat less than 1500 calories per day if you live a fairly active lifestyle, especially if you do not have excess weight to lose. If you eat too few calories on a daily basis, this can trigger your body to actually hold onto more calories rather than utilize them, as it may worry about not having enough in the future to complete its daily functions. 

Benefits of Gradual Weight Loss 

When you gradually lose weight, there are more advantages than rapidly losing weight. Losing weight gradually allows the body to adapt to the changes more effectively, which minimizes your risk of losing muscle, developing nutrient deficiencies, and other negative health outcomes. Gradual weight loss is also more likely to lead to sustainable lifestyle changes and may promote better weight maintenance.

Importance of Creating a Calorie Deficit 

In order to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. This means you need to consume fewer calories than your body uses for energy. Creating this deficit forces the body to use any stored fat as an energy source, resulting in weight loss over time. 

However, creating a moderate calorie deficit is important because this helps to avoid extreme restrictions. If you put yourself into a very low-calorie diet, it can be nutritionally inadequate and unsustainable and also lead to crazy cravings that throw you off track. While living at a healthy weight improves health, severely depriving your body of the nutrition and energy needed to complete its daily functions can negatively impact your health, so finding balance is important. 

Combining Diet and Exercise for Optimal Results

While diet plays a significant role in losing weight, adding regular exercise into your approach can optimize your results. When you exercise, you increase your calorie expenditure, enhance your metabolism, preserve your muscle mass and prevent muscle loss, and improve your overall physical fitness. 

Regular exercise also has many health benefits that go beyond weight loss. These benefits include improved cardiovascular health, mental well-being, and increased muscle strength. Combining a balanced, calorie-controlled diet with regular physical activity makes you more likely to achieve a comprehensive approach to weight loss. This is because this combination promotes both fat loss and overall health improvement. It is important that you personalize your diet and exercise routine to fit your own preferences and abilities, and that you consider any underlying medical conditions you may have. 

One way to have a balanced diet is to follow a macronutrient-balanced plan, and to prioritize lean protein in your diet. My favorite low-carb, clean protein is cleanish plant-based protein.

Typical Timelines for Losing Weight

  • Short-Term (weeks to months): It is reasonable to aim for a weight loss of 5-10% of your initial body weight over a period of 3-6 months. This equates to approximately 1-2 pounds (0.5-1 kg) per week, which is considered a safe and sustainable rate.
  • Long-Term (months to years): These weight loss goals typically involve maintaining a healthy lifestyle and gradually losing excess weight over an extended period. Aim for a total weight loss of 10-20% of your initial body weight within 6-12 months. Beyond the first year, a slower weight loss rate of 0.5-1 pound (0.2-0.5 kg) per week can be realistic and maintainable.

Remember that weight loss is not linear, and individuals may experience fluctuations, plateaus, and variations in their weight loss journey. The timelines we have mentioned may not be ideal for everyone and are simply general benchmarks. They should be adjusted based on your own circumstances, preferences, and health considerations.

Individual Variations 

Weight loss timelines can vary significantly from person to person. Some individuals may experience faster weight loss, while others may progress at a slower pace. It’s important to remember that weight loss is a highly individualized process. 

Here are a few individual variations to consider:

  • Metabolic Rate and Genetics: Metabolic rate, which is influenced by genetics, can vary among individuals. Some people naturally have a higher metabolic rate, allowing them to burn calories more efficiently and experience faster weight loss.
  • Body Composition: The proportion of muscle mass to fat mass in the body can influence weight loss timelines. Individuals with a higher muscle mass tend to have a higher basal metabolic rate, which can facilitate weight loss.
  • Hormonal Factors: Hormonal imbalances or conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or hypothyroidism can affect weight loss rates. Addressing these underlying conditions may be necessary to optimize weight loss.
  • Age: As individuals age, their metabolism tends to slow down, making weight loss more challenging. Additionally, hormonal changes associated with aging can impact weight loss efforts.
  • Health conditions and medications: Certain health conditions, such as diabetes or medications like antidepressants, may affect weight loss. Consulting healthcare professionals to manage these conditions and adjust medications as needed can support weight loss efforts.

Lifestyle Factors

Your activity level, exercise routine, dietary choices, and adherence to your weight loss plan can contribute to variations in how long it takes you to lose weight. Factors like your stress levels, sleep quality, and overall adherence to a healthy lifestyle can also influence how quickly you lose weight. 

That being said, things like what you do for work, the people in your household, and how busy you are can impact how long it takes you to lose weight. If you sit at a desk all day, have multiple family duties to tend to, or work long hours, being able to fit in time for exercise or planning meals can be a challenge. Remember that it’s okay to ask others for help when attempting to better yourself. Sometimes temporary change is needed for long-term gain. 


As you begin, or continue your weight loss journey, remember to recognize and respect your individual differences and avoid comparing your weight loss journey to others. Doing this is likely to discourage you. Every person’s body is unique, and focusing on sustainable, long-term progress rather than comparing your timeline to the timelines of others can help you stay motivated and prevent you from becoming discouraged. 

When you monitor your progress, make adjustments as needed, seek support from healthcare professionals or support groups, and stay consistent with healthy habits, you will be more likely to achieve successful and sustainable weight loss, regardless of individual variations.

Lacey Baier

Hey there! I’m Lacey Baier and I’d like to welcome you! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, as well as cleanish, my clean-eating supplement brand. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

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