How Long Does it Really Take to Lose Weight

If you’re asking the question because you’re worried that it may take too long, then please stop reading this article now. While there are shortcut methods to burn off a few pounds right before a big day that can last in the short run, any major changes you try and make to your physical appearance are going to take much longer. If you’re not ready for the long haul when losing weight, you’re destined to fail.

Losing weight doesn’t have to be difficult, but just as you put weight on over time (not overnight), it’ll take about the same amount of time to get rid of it all again. Don’t worry though; I know that you have the motivation and ability to lose the pounds without giving up.

…But How Long

How long it takes you to lose weight is dependent on a number of different factors. First of all, how much weight are you trying to lose? If you’re trying to lose upwards of 50 or so pounds to get back to your old college self, it may take as much as 6 months to return to your normal body weight. However if you just want to get rid of 10 or 15 pounds for an upcoming summer vacation, it may take less time than that.

In addition to how much weight you want to lose, the amount of weight you start with also plays a huge role in your weight loss abilities. If you are starting out with a lot of excess baggage, losing weight is going to be much easier on the front end than if you’re starting out relatively slim and just want to drop a few pounds from that point.

While it definitely differs for most people, like I said before, you can expect to work out and eat right for about 6 months before you see the significant changes to your body that you’re looking for. Just like how you didn’t put on 25 pounds after eating a big meal one night, you’re not going to be able to jog after a light salad and drop those pounds back off. It takes time to put weight on and it takes time to take it off. Be patient and set reasonable goals.


This may not be your situation exactly, but here’s a hypothetical situation that I use to explain to students and readers how their weight loss goals should look. While the topic of the article is, “How long does it take to lose weight?,” it’s important to realize that you’re probably talking about losing ALL of the weight you want to get rid of. When you’re setting fitness goals though, you’re only going to set yourself up for failure if your only weight loss goal is all of the weight or nothing.

Let’s say for instance that you’re a female that weighs 225 pounds and wants to shed 50 pounds in total. 50 pounds is A LOT of weight to get rid of, no matter who you think you are. However, instead of looking at the total 50 pounds as the goal, I like to break it down into sizable chunks that can be easily managed. 50 pounds is quite a bit to lose in 6 months, so if you’re trying to lose that much weight, I recommend tackling it over the course of a year. 50 pounds over 12 months is only 25 pounds every 6 months. That translates to about 4 pounds a month, or 1 pound a week. With proper exercise and dieting, 1 pound a week should be extremely easy to manage and in a year’s time you’ll have lost a whopping 50 pounds. And that’s still a very modest goal. If you exercise vigorously and cut out all of the bad foods entirely from your diet, you could even see that 50 pounds come off in 6 months if you really worked at it.

Lose Weight Faster

OK, so once you’ve gotten it into your head that you want to lose a sizable amount of weight and 6 months sounds like a reasonable time frame, it’s time to start talking about how to lose weight a bit faster. Once you accept the fact that 6 months is a reasonable amount of time to lose a bit of weight, you can start considering faster methods, but if you go straight for the fast track to weight loss from the get go you may find it difficult to keep up with what’s required and will become disappointed with your weight loss goals.

Beer/Alcohol: Everyone likes a beer every now and again, but in the long run it’s just adding unnecessary calories to your daily intake count and is contributing to your weight gain. Even light beers can contain up to 100 calories that don’t do anything except add up in your midsection. Remember, to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in every day. Adding 100 useless calories that you then have to burn off is not only foolish, it’s…well, it’s FOOLISH.

Junk Food: You can probably see me giving you a stern look across cyber space. It should be a given that junk food does the same thing as beer and alcohol. It adds unnecessary calories to your body that you’ll just have to burn off later on anyway. I’ll admit, I like to shove potato chips (the barbecue variety) into my face from time to time. Everyone does. However, I limit myself to how much I buy and when I can eat them. I try to only buy a bag of chips every few months and only to be eaten on my days off and during football season. If you’re looking for a snack or a sugar fix, fruit is a great way to kill cravings and stay healthy too.

Exercise More: “No ****” Right, I know you may be rolling your eyes at this one. Exercising more is obviously a way to help you lose weight faster. I’m not talking about doubling your exercise routine though. If you’re on the treadmill at the gym and can push through another 5 minutes of jogging to burn an extra 50 calories, every day that you do that those extra burned calories add up. When I say to exercise more, I’m talking about doing a little more every time you go to the gym. Instead of doing 30 minutes, do 35 minutes. It’s easy on the brain to conquer these small increases and you’ll reap the benefits in the long run.

Keep a Log

One of the best ways to keep track of your progress when losing weight is to keep a log book. I like to keep a log book next to my kitchen sink so that whenever I go to eat something, I have to keep count of the number of calories I’ve been taking in as well. Calorie counting is the first step to ensuring that you’re staying on track with your weight loss goals.

Don’t Weigh Yourself Daily: This is my cardinal rule when people are wondering how much weight they’ve lost. Because your weight fluctuates a little bit on a daily basis, it’s not fair to try and base your achievements by hopping on the scale on a daily basis. You may get discouraged that you’ve “gained weight” overnight or something similar. Limit it to once a week and when you get to put the amount of weight you’ve lost in your log book, you’ll feel that much better about yourself. Remember, it’s important to remind yourself that you are actually making progress and that all of your hard work is paying off.

Leave a Reply