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How Long Does It Take To Start Noticing Your Weight Loss?
BY AMANDA BERRY
March 20th 2019
There’s an adage that says “you’ll notice weight loss after 4 weeks, close friends and family will notice after 8, and strangers will notice after 12”.
How much truth is there to this, though?
This article answers all your questions.
When Will You Start To Notice Weight Loss?
Depending on your lifestyle and dietary intake, it could be as little as a week before you notice weight loss.
It’s likely to be a bit longer than that for most people, though.
The amount of time required to notice weight loss depends on various things, explored below.
How Will You Notice Your Weight Loss?
Your starting weight is one factor. Weight loss isn’t noticeable after a certain amount of pounds are lost: It’s noticeable after a certain proportion of body mass is lost.
It’s like this…
If you lose 5lbs from a weight of 180 lbs, for example, it will be harder to see than a loss of 5lbs from 140lbs.
It’s also important to know whether you are losing water weight, or fat weight.
While World Health Organization calls carbohydrates “the single most important source of food energy in the world,” (1) many diets advocate reduction in carbs for quick weight loss.
But here’s the kicker:
Research has found that “when you start a low-carbohydrate diet, you deplete the stored glycogen in your muscles” (2). This depletion then leads “to excretion of bound water” (3) from the body.
Meaning your body is getting rid of water instead of fat.
And if your goal is fat burning… Weight loss through water probably isn’t what you had in mind!
This also means that contrary to popular belief, the best way to monitor weight loss is not necessarily a set of scales; but rather with a measuring tape. This will allow you to assess fat reduction, whereas scales don’t always allow for differences in water weight.
Another factor determining when you will notice weight loss is how you perceive your own weight, and this can vary quite a lot between people.
If you find it harder to see or acknowledge that you have lost weight, it may take you longer to lose an amount that feels significant.
It is important to be honest with yourself here. One study found that accurate weight perception was related positively to overall weight-loss efforts (4).
As a rough guide, you will probably start to notice weight loss in these areas and in this order:
- On the scale
- On the tape measure, and in clothes sizes at the same time
- Through visible changes to your body
When Will Others Notice Your Weight Loss?
“After how many pounds is weight loss noticeable”, you may be asking.
One study has the answer. Researchers in Canada found (5) that weight loss of 8 or 9 lbs was required for other people to reliably notice a difference in your appearance.
If you’re still wondering when people will notice your weight loss…
Remember that it will probably take a bit longer from the outside as the results will have to be more significant.
This shouldn’t dishearten you, though.
We mentioned ratio of body mass earlier, and this is especially the case for people noticing your weight loss.
It’s about ratio of body mass lost, rather than weight. So 5lb weight loss from 140lbs will be noticed more quickly than from 180.
How Can You Speed Up Your Weight Loss Journey?
Weight loss is determined by a simple equation: The number of calories going in must be lower than the number of calories your body burns.
To achieve a safe and sustainable calorie deficit, you have three options.
- You can lower your calorific intake by eating foods with fewer calories.
- You can increase your body’s consumption by doing more exercise.
- You can do both.
Or, as the Harvard School of Public Health so eloquently put it, “move more, eat less!” (6)
Here are some things to do to achieve quick weight loss:
Stop with the snacking!
Snacks are usually high in fat, sugar, or both. When your brain is craving these things it can be hard to resist, but your body will thank you. If you really can’t resist, go for healthy snacks like fruit, plain popcorn, nuts, or similar.
Prioritise foods with fewer calories
You’ll still feel full up if you eat foods with lower calories, and this feeling of fullness can be helpful in preventing you from snacking, or eating too much. Aim to eat a balanced diet of lower-calorie foods.
Use dietary supplements
Using the correct dietary supplements can give a helping hand to your weight loss efforts. Supplements work in different ways: Some help you to feel more full after eating, others give your metabolism a boost, and others give you a bit more energy to help you be more active.
Turn off the TV
If you have some spare time and you’re looking to speed up your weight loss, try to prioritise physical activity over sedentary activities like watching TV. People will notice your weight loss a lot quicker if you exercise regularly.
Do some aerobic exercise
You can do this type of exercise for prolonged periods, and it’s great for burning fat. Things like cycling, swimming, jogging, or even brisk walking count as aerobic exercise.
Do some strength training
According to the NHS, “muscle burns more calories than fat” (7). This means muscle-strengthening activities can give a boost to your weight loss.
Increase your general activity
Going to the shops? Cycle instead of driving. Usually get the bus to work? Get off a few stops earlier and brisk walk the rest of the way.
Peppering exercise throughout your daily routine is a great way to speed up your weight loss, while instilling good habits.
Following these tips will help you to notice your weight loss in no time.
It’s really important to not prioritise speed over safety. Effective weight loss should be safe, healthy, and sustainable. Dropping too much weight too quickly can be damaging, and can lead to rebounds.
Hopefully this blog post answered all of the questions you had about when you can expect to notice weight loss.
By setting realistic goals, and maintaining a healthy caloric deficit, you could begin to notice weight loss anywhere from a week into your new routine.
You have plenty of options to you for achieving this deficit: A new diet, an updated exercise regime, a healthy new supplement, or even some combination of the three.
Remember to look at the scales first, and then at the tape measure to check that the weight you’re losing is from fat.
Then look at your clothes size, your body, and finally the surprised faces of other people!
And while it’s nice for other people to notice your weight loss, always remember that you’re doing this for you. A fit and healthy body feels great, and you will know when you start to notice your weight loss by how you feel.
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- The World Health Organization. Carbohydrates in human nutrition. (FAO Food and Nutrition Paper – 66) (1997). Link.
- Cespedes A. How Long Does it Take to Start to Notice Weight Loss (2017). Link.
- Astrup A et al. Atkins and other low-carbohydrate diets: hoax or an effective tool for weight loss (2004). Link.
- Yang K et al. Body mass index self-perception and weight management behaviors during late adolescence. (2014). Link.
- Daniel E et al. Heavy Matters: The Relationship Between Just Noticeable Differences in Perceptions of Facial Adiposity and Facial Attractiveness. (2015). Link.