How Long Does Losing Weight Take?

- POSTED ON: Apr 05, 2013

As stated in my previous article: Why Diets Fail - The Salt/Water/Waste Issue, Diet-related weight loss has two distinct stages: first, the loss of phantom weight, and second the actual loss of excess body fat.

The loss of phantom weight lasts for about two weeks. It consists primarily of a reduction of undigested foods, fluids, and stools inside the gastrointestinal tract, but almost no actual body fat.

The first stage: phantom weight loss, can be anywhere from 5 to 20 lbs., depending on one’s starting weight, diet, and colon health. However, after the first stage, even though one is still consuming the exact same diet, the quick scale drop ends and the “magic” is over.

The second stage: permanent loss of body fat, is where we get what we are ACTUALLY going for. How long that stage takes depends on many factors, beginning with the amount of fat one needs to lose and ending with one’s age, height, gender, ethnicity, occupation, rate of metabolism, personality type, the quality of sleep, physical activity, diet composition, and climate, together with some additional factors.

There is a way to estimate the time it will take to lose excess fat weight instead of using the common “3500 calories equals 1 fat lb Theory”.

 We can estimate how long we can expect an effective weight loss diet to take, by using the following formula:

  1. Excess fat = Current weight minus Desired weight minus Phantom weight

  2. Fat loss duration equals Excess fat divided by Daily fat loss

  3. Total diet duration equals Fat loss duration plus Two weeks

Current weight. Weigh on a reasonably accurate scale the first thing in the morning, in the nude, after urinating, before eating or drinking anything.

Desired weight is the target “normal” weight.

Phantom weight loss is determined during the first two weeks of one’s diet. This weight is incredibly self-deceptive, because no matter how big as this number might be, for all intents and purposes it is nearly meaningless to true weight (i.e., fat) loss.

Excess fat is the only realistic measure of one’s weight “problem.” That is the number one wants to lose, and losing it requires quite some time. One’s excess fat is determined by subtracting one’s phantom weight losses and one’s desired weight from one’s current weight.

Fat loss duration is the number of days one must remain on a lower calorie diet until attaining one’s desired weight. People who start a weight-loss diet with unrealistic expectations will probably stop consistently following it, long before that diet has a chance to prove itself, one way or another.

Average Daily fat loss. To establish this number as accurately as is possible, one will need to stay on a fat reduction diet for at least 14 to 28 days (two to four weeks or longer) after completing the first two week phantom weight loss period.

        This is because of:

(a) the low resolution of consumer weight scales;

(b) day-to-day natural weight loss fluctuations;

(c) the propensity of weight loss to slow down somewhat as the body adjusts to reduced calorie intake; and

(d) inevitable lapses in one’s daily caloric intake.

To properly estimate daily fat loss, wait until the weight number taken AFTER the first two weeks, drops at least 5 more lbs, and divide this number by the number of days it took to lose there. .

...... If one doesn’t see any measurable weight reduction for this period, it means that the diet being used, is too generous for that person’s particular rate of metabolism, and that person will need to reduce caloric intake even more...... 
Whatever the diet or food plan, as long as a person consumes less nutrients than their body expends for energy and structural metabolism, fat loss … over time …. is just as certain to occur as sunrise and sundown.

• Total diet duration. It’s important to realize that the total diet duration will probably be longer than one’s most conservative estimate, because Real Life continues to happen, diet or no diet.

Here is an Example which uses the above-stated formula:

  1. 200 lb Current weight … subtract 150 lb Desired weight (50 lbs)…subtract 7 lb Phantom weight… equals Excess Fat of 43 lbs.

  2. Excess Fat (43 lb) divided by Daily fat loss (.14 – see Hypo below) equals Fat Loss Duration of 307 days.

    Hypothetical example of daily fat loss - 4 lb total net weight-loss during the four-weeks AFTER the first two week (phantom weight-loss) period. Divide 4 lbs by 28 days (4 weeks) results equal approx .14 of one lb per day.

    Fat loss duration (307 days) plus two weeks Total weight-loss diet duration 321 days

    Pursuant to this formula, starting the diet on January 1st, at 200 lbs, and correctly and consistently following that diet for 321 days (45 weeks), one could expect to reach 150 lbs by the end of November

Below is a comparison of the use of the above-stated formula to the standard THEORY used,..." A 3500 Calorie Deficit equals a one fat lb loss" :

45 weeks losing 43 fat lbs equals weight-loss of approximately 1 lb per week.
would indicate that one’s actual dietary - (caloric) - deficit for that entire period of time would have been approximately 500 calories a day.

 It is very important to REMEMBER however, that even the “right-for-you” weight-loss or maintenance diet fails unless it truly is consistently and patiently followed correctly.

Leave me a comment.

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Existing Comments:

On Apr 09, 2013 jethro wrote:
Suppose mid way through a diet, a subject reaches a plateau, lasting a month or more. Subject realizes it needs to reduce calories, does it and weight loss resumes. Did the phantom weight apply?

On Apr 09, 2013 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Phantom weight ... in some amount or another ... applies to EVERY weight-loss diet. See the link to: "Why Diets Fail - the Salt/Water/Waste Issue" which defines phantom weight.

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