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How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight? (8 Diet Myths)

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Summary: Have you ever wondered how long does it take to lose weight — really? We're here to help debunk eight of the most prevalent diet myths.

We all know it takes Thanksgiving, Christmas, or birthday dinner to gain some extra pounds. But how long does it take to lose weight?

You’ve probably tried Atkins, low-carb, Dukan, DASH, Sonoma, or some form of a juice cleanse. Has any of them worked for you?

The truth is that any modern diet is a short-term solution for a long-term problem. This is why diets don’t work.

Here’s what you need to know about diets and what it takes to lose weight:

Shifting your perspective on food will become a game-changer – from short-term dieting to long-term health.

8 Common Diet Questions: The Truth

It isn’t about a diet, it isn’t about a set of rules. It’s about food freedom.

Eric Edmeades, Author of Mindvalley’s WildFit Program

When it comes to diets and weight loss, it’s tough to know where to start. 

Most of us hop on the diet-trend train based on whatever’s popular at the time. 

But here’s the problem: eating fads move in and out of the pop culture limelight in the same way that fashion trends do. 

We don’t need a three-month-long eating plan. We don’t need a fleetingly popular diet. 

What we need is a shift in the way we approach food. 

Need more proof? 

Then let’s bust out some hard truths on these eight common diet questions.

workout routine

1. How long does it take to lose weight?

Healthy weight loss brought about by a good diet and exercise typically happens at a rate of one to two pounds per week. You may lose more. You may lose less. But this is a safe and healthy standard to aim for. (This is based on a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories).

That said, know that your weight doesn’t dictate your health. And that tethering your health goals to the number you see on the scale isn’t always a healthy or worthwhile endeavor.

Pursuing a healthier lifestyle goes far above and beyond how many pounds you weigh.

2. How long does it take for you to notice weight loss?

How long does it take to lose weight and how long does it take for you to notice weight loss are two very different questions.

That’s because noticing weight loss, especially with our eyes, isn’t always easy.

In fact, the way we most typically realize we’ve lost weight is in how our clothes fit. Perhaps we can cinch our belt up another notch. Or our jeans feel a little roomier than usual.

If you’re working with a dedicated eating plan and have committed yourself to daily exercise, you’ll likely notice results in as little as one to two weeks.

healthy food diet

3. How can you lose 10lbs in a week?

Is it possible to lose as much as 10 pounds in just seven days?

Well, yes. It is possible.

But should you try it? Absolutely not.

Through severe calorie restriction and exercise, health experts say it’s possible to lose 10 pounds in a week. But that it won’t be 10 pounds of fat — in fact, most of it will be water. 

Rapid weight loss isn’t healthy and has been linked to the following health complications:

  • Dehydration
  • Migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Gallstone susceptibility 

The healthiest weight loss takes place at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week. And striving for anything above and beyond this isn’t just impractical — it’s unsafe.

4. How long does it take to lose weight at the gym?

If you’re looking to augment your weight loss goals with some exercise, you may be wondering:

How long does it take to lose weight at the gym?

Well, this depends on how you exercise.

If you want to lose weight at the gym, you must first consume a caloric deficit.

Because there’s no use grinding out those sweat sessions if you sabotage your efforts with congratulatory post-workout cheeseburgers.

So, what’s a caloric deficit? Well, a caloric deficit occurs when you consume fewer calories than your body burns.

For example, if your body burns 2,000 calories a day, and you only consume 1,700 calories, that’s a caloric deficit of 300 calories.

And exercise helps us burn even more.

An hour of cardio, for example, burns an average of 350 to 600 calories, depending on the level of intensity.

If you’re getting in a solid hour of exercise each day, you’ll be burning an excess 2,450 to 4,200 calories a week.

Why do all these figures matter?

Well, a pound of fat is worth about 3,500 calories.

You read that right. You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat.

So, if you commit yourself to daily gym sessions alongside a healthy eating plan, you’ll likely start to see weight loss results in just one to two weeks.

But keep in mind that when it comes to sweat sessions at the gym, more doesn’t always equal better. 

You need to give your body time to rest and recoup after a hard workout. 

So, make sure to balance a heavy exercise sesh with a low impact routine the next day. 


5. How long does it take to lose 20lbs?

So, you’ve set your weight loss goal at 20 pounds. You know what you plan to eat and you’ve got some weekly workout goals you’re yearning to knock out of the park.

But how long does it take to lose 20 pounds? 

You may have noticed a common theme thus far, so this answer probably won’t surprise you:

It depends.

It hinges on your dedication, your eating habits, and your exercise regime. 

It’s possible to lose 20 pounds in as little as a month, but again, this type of rapid weight loss isn’t stable or healthy.

Remember the healthy weight loss rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week? Well, a realistic time frame for shedding 20 pounds could be anywhere from 10 to 20 weeks. 

6. How much weight should I lose in a month?

This one’s really up to you. 

How much weight should you lose in a month? 

It depends on your weight loss goals. And it also depends on the methods you use to achieve them.

But instead of focusing solely on the numbers you see on the scale, why not ask yourself why you’re embarking on this journey? 

What’s motivated you to make this change? What results do you want to see and why? 

healthy breakfast

7. Where does fat go when you lose weight?

A fantastic question. 

Where does fat go when you lose weight?

When you burn fat, either through exercise or diet-oriented energy deficits, your body uses fat stores for energy. 

It literally breaks down fat deposits to create energy for your body. Your body consumes the energy and the remaining fat byproducts exit the body in two ways:

  • Water: through sweat or urine.
  • Carbon dioxide: through the lungs. 

It’s a complicated biological process. But all those t-shirt slogans that boast, “sweat is fat crying”? They’re not too far from the truth. 

8. How to lose weight fast naturally?

Is there a best way to lose body fat in a fast and natural way?

The best approach you can take is to give your body what it needs to do its job well.

That means good food, good exercise, and adequate rest.

Here are a few ways to start safely streamlining your health and fitness goals:

If you’re eager for results and want to know how long does it take to lose weight, the answer is really up to you.

Healthy weight loss isn’t a race. It’s a conversation you have with your body about the person you’d like to become. 

What kind of lifestyle you want to lead? What example do you want to set for those around you?

The answers to these questions can help you understand why you’re setting out on this journey. And what you discover about yourself along the way will make it all worthwhile.

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Written by

Shannon Terrell

Shannon is a former contributor writer at Mindvalley. She is a professional writer who specializes in topics related to mental health. In 2019, she published "The Guest House", a collection of creative non-fiction stories. As the lead writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet, Shannon also writes about credit cards and personal finance.
Picture of Shannon Terrell

Shannon Terrell

Shannon is a former contributor writer at Mindvalley. She is a professional writer who specializes in topics related to mental health. In 2019, she published "The Guest House", a collection of creative non-fiction stories. As the lead writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet, Shannon also writes about credit cards and personal finance.

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