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How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight?

By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

how long does it take to lose weight

If you’re wondering how long does it take to lose weight, the short answer is that slow and steady is generally best!

But, it's much more complex than that.

Weight loss isn’t always easy as it takes time and patience.

With the right weight loss program in place, dropping weight can feel like a breeze.

So, how long does it take to lose weight?

It depends on numerous factors, such as how much weight you'd like to lose and how fast you want to lose it.

Let's dig deeper and truly answer the question, ‘how long does it take to lose weight?'

If your current diet isn't working or you feel deprived when following it, it's time to rethink dieting!

How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight?

A safe weight loss rate is 1-2 pounds per week, which gives you the best chance of maintaining lost weight for life.

Using this guideline, consider the following weight-loss goals:

  • 5 pounds: 2-5 weeks
  • 10 pounds: 5-10 weeks
  • 15 pounds: 7-15 weeks
  • 20 pounds: 10-20 weeks
  • 25 pounds: 12-25 weeks
  • 30 pounds: 15-30 weeks
  • 35 pounds: 17-35 weeks
  • 40 pounds: 20-40 weeks
  • 45 pounds: 22-45 weeks
  • 50 pounds: 25-50 weeks
  • 60 pounds: 30-60 weeks
  • 70 pounds: 35-70 weeks
  • 80 pounds: 40-80 weeks
  • 90 pounds: 45-90 weeks
  • 100 pounds: 50-100 weeks

You can drop weight faster than this if you’d like to, under medical supervision, but a slow, steady rate of weight loss helps prevent you from feeling deprived, keeps your energy high, and increases your chance of keeping lost weight off long term.

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How to Choose a Goal Weight

It’s sometimes difficult to determine what a good goal weight is.

Because everybody is different and muscle weighs more than fat, so a number on a scale doesn’t always tell the entire story of how healthy you are.

The best way to calculate your goal weight is to use one of the following strategies:

  • Choose a weight you feel most comfortable with
  • Pick your lowest adult weight
  • Use the Hamwi method
  • Choose a weight that puts you within a healthy body mass index (BMI) range

Knowing more about each method helps you decide which one is right for you!

Hamwi Method

The Hamwi method is a way to estimate your ideal body weight based on your height and frame size.

Hamwi body weight calculations for men and women are as follows:

Hamwi Method for Men:

  • Medium frame: 106 pounds for the first 5 feet of height PLUS 6 pounds for each additional inch over 5 feet
  • Subtract 10% for a small frame
  • Add 10% for a large frame

Hamwi Method for Women:

  • Medium frame: 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of height PLUS 5 pounds for each additional inch over 5 feet
  • Subtract 10% for a small frame
  • Add 10% for a large frame

When using the Hamwi method, if you are 5 feet 5 inches tall your ideal body weight is 125 pounds plus or minus 10%, which equates to 113-138 pounds.

Body Mass Index Charts

Finding your ideal body weight using body mass index (BMI) guidelines lets you know which body weight range keeps your chronic disease risks low.

Calculate your BMI by multiplying your weight in pounds by 703, dividing by your height in inches, and dividing by your height in inches again.

Note: A healthy BMI is 18.5 – 24.9.

To determine which body weight is right for you based on your height, use the following guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (BMI) charts:

  • 5 feet tall: 97-123 pounds
  • 5’1”: 100-127 pounds
  • 5’2”: 104-131 pounds
  • 5’3”: 107-135 pounds
  • 5’4”: 110-140 pounds
  • 5’5”: 114-144 pounds
  • 5’6”: 118-148 pounds
  • 5’7”: 121-153 pounds
  • 5’8”: 125-158 pounds

A healthy weight loss goal is to achieve a body weight within these ranges to lower your risk of developing a chronic disease, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

A “Feel Good” Weight

A healthy goal weight is personal and based on what’s best for you, as everyone is different.

Sometimes choosing a weight you feel the most comfortable with is the right choice.

This might be your lowest adult weight or a weight that allows you to look and feel your best.

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How Does Your Body Gain or Lose Weight?

You can gain or lose weight depending on various factors, including your:

  • Total daily calorie intake
  • Daily calorie expenditure
  • Metabolism

Burning more calories than you consume is the key to effective weight and fat loss.

Expend 500 more calories than you eat daily to drop about 1 pound per week, or burn 1,000 more calories than you consume to shed 2 pounds per week.

Creating this type of calorie deficit is safe and helps prevent hunger during weight loss.

For best results, combine healthy eating with a fat-burning exercise program.

Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

There are numerous ways you can boost your body’s metabolism to increase the calories you burn throughout the day, even during periods of rest.

Examples include:

Drink More Water

Studies show that drinking water helps boost your metabolism and aids in weight and fat loss.

More specifically, drinking more water throughout the day and 2 cups of water before meals gives your metabolism a boost and helps you eat fewer overall calories.

Aim to ingest 12 cups of water daily for women.

Choose Strength Training

Strength training exercises, whether it’s weight training or using your own body weight as resistance, helps boost muscle mass and your body’s metabolism.

Why? Because muscle burns more calories than fat even at rest.

Work weight training into your daily routine or do body weight exercises, such as:

  • Pull-ups
  • Pushups
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Traditional planks
  • Shoulder touch planks
  • Plank jacks
  • Sit-ups
  • Wall squats
  • Calf raises

Combine strength training with cardiovascular exercise as part of your regular routine to maximize calorie burning.

Learn why strength training is important to combat muscle loss and promote longevity!

Consider Caffeine

Studies show that caffeine increases your energy expenditure.

Caffeine boosts energy, making it easier to stay active.

But how much caffeine should you drink for weight and fat loss?

According to research, 3 or more cups of coffee or tea daily should do the trick.

Boost Fiber

Your body burns calories breaking down fiber, but fiber isn’t fully absorbed by the body.

Therefore, fiber helps increase your body’s metabolism for weight loss without adding extra calories.

Women need at least 25 grams of fiber daily to optimize health and make weight loss easier.

Choose fiber-rich foods to complete your weight loss meal plan.

Examples include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, peas, beans, other legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Taking a fiber supplement can help too!

Focus on Protein

Increasing protein in your diet also helps boost your metabolism, based on numerous research findings.

Protein helps you feel full longer, making it easier to eat less food for weight loss.

It allows you to maintain or build lean muscle, which further boosts your body’s metabolism.

Choose lean meat, turkey, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs, tofu, seitan, legumes, low-fat dairy foods, nuts, and seeds as your protein sources.

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Other Weight Loss Tips and Tricks

The majority of Americans are overweight or obese.

You probably already know that eating a healthy diet and exercising daily is the key to effectively dropping excess weight.

But thinking outside the box is what counts to get and keep lost weight off for good.

For example:

Don’t Eat While Distracted

Make mealtime relaxing, eat slowly, and don’t get distracted while you eat.

Studies show that not paying attention during mealtime can cause you to eat extra calories.

In other words, if you’re distracted by the television, social media, work, or a stressful situation, you might eat more calories than usual.

Pay attention to your body’s satiety cues, or focus on whether you feel full while you eat.

Drink water before each meal and avoid eating when you’re in a hurry, as satiety takes time to set in.

Find 500 Calories to Cut

Find 500-calorie foods you can cut from your diet to drop about 1 pound per week, or eliminate 1,000 calories daily to lose 2 pounds each week.

The following foods(s) provide about 500 calories:

  • 1 Big Mac
  • 3 cans of beer
  • A large order of fast-food fries
  • A 3-ounce package of potato chips
  • 2 cups of ice cream
  • 2 large candy bars
  • 3 cans of soda
  • 2 slices of pizza
  • 4 mozzarella sticks

It doesn’t take much to add up to 500 calories, especially when you cut out the junk food!

Stay on Your Feet

Sitting down too much is a chronic disease risk factor, so avoid sitting as much as possible during the day.

In addition to daily workouts, find ways to stay on your feet whenever possible.

Walk instead of drive when you can, climb stairs any chance you have, do daily indoor and outdoor house chores, and stand instead of sit often.

Try a standing desk vs a traditional desk at home or work.

Learn about all of the research-proven 30-minute walk benefits!

Find Your Inner Strength

You’re stronger than you think and when you set your mind to do something, even losing weight, you can make it happen.

Decide that achieving your dream weight and figure is more important than enjoying sweets and other unhealthy foods.

Enlist the support of friends, family, or a health coach to keep you accountable and boost your chance of success.

Set Goals and Record Accomplishments

Research shows that setting goals increases your chance of successful weight loss in a short amount of time.

Everybody is different, but a goal of dropping 1-2 pounds per week is a good starting point.

Write down weekly weight loss and other healthy lifestyle goals and record your accomplishments in a journal.

You might try the following healthy living goals:

  • Sleep at least 7 hours each night
  • Avoid (or cut back on) alcohol
  • Don't smoke
  • Drink 2-4 cups of water when you first wake up
  • Drink 12 cups of water (or water plus coffee or tea) daily
  • Drink 2 cups of water before each meal
  • Eat 5-6 small meals/snacks every day
  • Try intermittent fasting 1-3 days each week
  • Fill half of each plate with vegetables at mealtime
  • Fill half of each plate with protein foods and fiber-rich starches
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes daily
  • Take time to yourself every day

While weight loss and healthy living goals are highly individualized, these few general goals can help you get started!

Learn how to achieve a goal or change behavior by understanding your psychology!

Relieve Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Having a healthy mind is crucial for effective weight loss.

Stress, anxiety, and depression can alter hormones and increase your appetite, or cause you to eat because of emotional reasons vs. truly being hungry.

These mental health disorders are common, as anxiety affects over 18% of people in the United States.

If depression or anxiety get the best of you, check in with your doctor for treatment options.

To help de-stress, try easing up on an overbooked schedule, getting a massage, walking outdoors, or doing yoga or tai chi.

Find out how stress is killing us as we reveal some important research about stress.

Consider Hormone Therapy if Necessary

With age, women’s hormones may fluctuate, which can decrease metabolism or boost your appetite.

In fact, thyroid disorders are common among women in the U.S.

Women are five to eight times more likely than men to develop thyroid problems, which can decrease your metabolism, hinder weight loss, and even lead to unwanted weight gain.

If you have menopause symptoms or suffer from extreme fatigue, check in with your doctor to have your thyroid and estrogen levels checked to determine if hormone therapy or taking synthetic thyroid is right for you.

Replace Sweets with Fruit

Sweets and other forms of added sugar can pack on unwanted pounds quickly. Instead, choose fruit containing natural sugars plus fiber.

Fruits are often lower in calories, contain more essential nutrients, and keep you full for longer time periods.

Aim to eat about 2-3 one-half cup servings of fruit daily during weight loss.

Are Fruits ACTUALLY Healthy? We address this commonly asked question and more!

Avoid Regular and Diet Sodas

You probably already know that regular soda isn’t the healthiest choice, but you might be surprised to learn that diet beverages are also associated with weight gain.

Studies show that drinking diet soft drinks can increase your waist circumference, BMI, and fasting blood sugar.

Consuming sweet-tasting soda without the energy of sugar can leave you feeling deprived and increase cravings for sugary foods.

Join a Research-Backed Weight Loss Program

Participating in a research-backed weight loss program, such as Fit Mother 30X (FM30X), is an excellent way to increase your chance of weight loss success.

You’ll receive:

  • Healthy weight loss menus
  • Fat-burning workouts
  • Health coaching from medical experts
  • Fit mom community support
  • Weekly newsletters
  • Nutritious, mouth-watering recipes and more

Studies show that joining a weight loss program is associated with greater weight loss vs trying to drop weight on your own.

Ready to try a safe, effective weight loss program with social support from health experts?

Sign up for the free Fit Mom Jumpstart today!

Erin Coleman

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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Learn More About FM30X

If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

  • The simple & delicious Fit Mother Meal Plan with easy recipes for you and your family.
  • The metabolism-boosting Fit Mother 30X Workout (under 90 min/week) to kickstart your metabolism for fast fat burning.
  • VIP email coaching where we’ll personally walk you through the program.
Learn More About FM30X

*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on answering the question, ‘how long does it take to lose weight?'

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Fit Mother Project Fact-Checking Standards

Our Fit Mother Project Team’s deepest commitment is to helping you live healthier for both yourself and your family. And when it comes to online content, integrity and trust is everything. That’s why our Fit Mother Project staff-writers are all trained professionals in the field of health and wellness (registered dieticians, licensed personal trainers, and licensed physicians) – see the full team here. We rigorously run all of our articles through a rigorous editorial process to ensure the accuracy, simplicity, and utility of the information. And we aren’t just a team of “academics” sitting in an ivory tower. We are real people – with jobs, responsibilities, and families – working hard in the trenches and testing our tips & methods out to make sure you can stay healthy for family.

Here is what you can expect from us on our Fit Mother Blog and YouTube channel:

  1. All of our content is written and reviewed by licensed health professionals (dieticians, personal trainers, doctors).
  2. In nearly all of our articles, we link to published research studies from the most respected peer-reviewed medical & health journals.
  3. We include research-based videos to accompany our articles to make it easier for you to consume our content, put it into action, and see results.
  4. Inside our articles & videos, we do promote our free meal plans, workouts, and/or paid programs, because we know they have the potential to change your life.
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  6. Above all, we are a community of likeminded men and women committed to living healthier. We do not advocate any health advice that we wouldn’t personally implement with our families. Because as far as we’re concerned, you’re our family too.

Thanks for checking out the blog. We can’t wait to support you toward greater health, energy, and vitality.

– The Fit Mother Project Team


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