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Why does losing weight take so long?

It’s not uncommon to want to lose weight quickly. Once we set our minds to losing weight, following a healthy diet and exercising regularly, we want to see results fast.

Depriving your body of crucial fuel may set you back a few kilos, but it’s most certainly not the way to go to lose weight – much like yo-yo dieting.

But why is losing weight so hard? Why does it often take so long?

Let’s have a look!

How weight loss happens

In order to lose weight, especially consistently, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn each day. On the other side, weight gain happens when you eat more calories than you’re burning.

However, in order to lose weight, you need to understand how your body burns calories daily – otherwise known as energy or calorie expenditure.

Calorie expenditure is made up of three important components:

  • RMR (your resting metabolic rate) – This is the amount of calories your body requires to function normally, day to day, such as breathing and pumping blood.
  • TEF (Thermic effect of food) – This is the number of calories used to digest, absorb and metabolize the food you consume.
  • TEA (Thermic effect of activity) – This refers to the calories used during exercise. This type of calorie use can also include non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), accounting for calories used during other activities, such as gardening.

If you’re simply looking to maintain your body weight, you would need to consume and burn the same amount of calories. But in order to lose weight, you need to create a negative calorie balance – consuming fewer calories and burning more through exercise.

How long does it take to start losing weight?

As we covered briefly, in order to lose weight we must consume fewer calories than we burn, or burn more calories through extra exercise. It’s easy to opt for extreme measures, depriving our body of calories in order to lose weight fast – or for a special occasion.

Also Read: How long does it take to notice weight loss?

However, this isn’t a healthy way to lose weight. When you enter into a moderate calorie deficit, you can lose run in the long-term, building a healthier relationship with food and exercise.

If you go too severe with a caloric deficit, our bodies in fact slow down – believe it to be an emergency situation and work to conserve energy, therefore calories.

Here are two key reasons why losing weight feels so hard and takes a long time.

1. The yo-yo diet approach

There are many fad diets around that claim to help you lose weight, and fast. However, after the initial burst of weight loss, it becomes far easier to pile the pounds back on.

After experiencing a high calorie deficit, our bodies want to regain that weight quickly. Think of your body like a sponge after experiencing a too-high deficit. So while it might feel great to shed some weight initially, it’ll soon be put back on if you do a crash diet.

Instead, try stick to a moderate deficit of 200 to 500 calories daily.

2. Losing motivation

It’s common to ask, ‘how long does it take to see weight loss results?’ and typically, one of the biggest weight loss struggles is losing motivation. When we don’t notice weight loss as quickly as we’d like, it can be easy to feel demotivated.

Losing weight is a process, and it’s totally natural to lose weight more quickly at the beginning. While in the beginning, you may lose some water weight, after some time this effect no longer occurs. Don’t let this ruin your motivation to get fit and healthy, though!

Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About Losing Belly Fat

Pushing through this point and switching up your exercise regime can help you stay consistent and lose body fat in the long run. Losing weight is a process!

How long does it take to see weight loss results?

Noticeable weight loss can occur as little as within one week! But this can depend on a variety of factors, including your diet, the type of exercise you’re doing and how you’re measuring your weight loss.

While it’s understandable to want to see visible results, the benefits of eating clean and exercising regularly will benefit your health on the inside, too.

All of us lose weight differently, and from different parts of the body. The idea of spot reduction is a total myth – we have no real control over where the weight will go from first. One of the main difference that impacts how long it takes to notice weight loss is your starting size.

For example, if you’re at the larger end of the scales and fall into the obese range on the body mass index (BMI), your weight can potentially change quite quickly. If you’re a little slimmer, weight will come off more slowly as you are naturally carrying less excess weight.

Many beginners can spot a five pound difference in their first week of following a healthy routine. With subtle changes happening in week two, consistently eating well and exercising by week three will result in some amazing changes!

However, the initial shock of a new routine can cause your body to lose more weight in the initial starting weeks. This can then tail off slowly as you continue on your weight loss journey.

Why is losing weight so hard?

Often we can feel as though we’re doing everything right, yet struggle to lose weight. However, there are some factors that are out of your control and may affect the rate at which you lose weight. These can make losing weight feel much trickier.

Including:

Your age

As we age, our body composition can be altered. Naturally, as get older, our fat mass can increase and muscle mass decrease.

This natural part of ageing, alongside the declining calorie needs of your major organs, can affect your RMR and the rate at which you lose weight.

Gender

Gender can play a huge role in how long it takes to start losing weight – this is due to your body’s fat-to-muscle ratio.

Since women usually have a greater fat-to-muscle ratio than men, our RMR can typically be 5 to 10% lower than a man of the same height.

This, in turn, means that women generally burn 5 to 10% fewer calories at rest than men do.

Calorie consumption

In order to lose weight, you must create a negative calorie balance. The extent of your caloric deficit will determine how quickly you may lose weight. However, it’s important to not go to extremes – as a deficit too high may result in yo-yo dieting.

If you consider your calorie consumption a long term weight loss strategy, you are more likely to stick to your weight loss goals. When you’re too strict with your diet, it can be easy to return to bad habits.

Getting plenty of sleep

When it comes to weight loss, and wondering how long does it take to see weight loss results, many overlook the importance of sleep.

Also Read: Burn fat by building muscle: The body recomposition

If you’re sleeping incredibly poorly, it can hinder your weight loss speed, causing you to feel demotivated. According to studies, a single night of sleep deprivation can increase your urges towards high-calorie and poor nutrient foods – such as sodas, processed snacks and chips.

Other factors

There are a variety of other factors that can impact your weight loss rate, including:

  • Medical conditions – Illnesses can impact your weight loss, including depression and hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland produces too few metabolism-regulating hormones.
  • Medication side effects – Some medications have side effects that can impact your weight. This includes some antidepressants and other antipsychotics.
  • Yo-yo dieting – This is typically the pattern of losing and regaining that lost weight, making each attempt more difficult due to a decrease in RMR.
  • Family history – Your family history and genetics play a large role in our weight and ability to lose weight.

Need a helping hand achieving your goals?

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It’s time to slay your health and fitness goals, ladies! You’ve got this.

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