The average person can safely expect to lose one to two pounds of fat per week. Beginners who have extra weight to lose and haven’t exercised recently may be able to lose two to three pounds per week in the first few weeks of starting an exercise program. After that first period everyone should expect their weight loss to normalize to back to one to two pounds of fat per week. The secret in results is staying consistent with fitness and nutrition programs. Results can vary from person to person, however. At Catalyst Training Gyms we’ve found five main factors that affect how long it takes to drop weight.

Now that that’s been thrown out there, let’s be a bit more precise as it can vary dramatically person to person. But for your average individual I would say there are 5 main factors that will consider how long it will take to lose weight.

1. Deciding How Much Weight to Lose

The only determining factor of weight loss is calories in versus calories out, meaning burning more calories than consuming. In a general sense, a 300 pound person likely consumes a higher calorie count than a 150 pound person, such as 3,500 – 4,000 calories consumed a day. If that person normalizes their calorie range down to 2,500 calories a day, that would allow for a greater calorie deficit and lead to accelerated weight loss. The 150 pound person would not be able to comfortably subtract the same number of calories from their intake. The only real way for the 150 pound person to keep up with that exaggerated weight loss would be to exercise and burn more calories than the 300 pound person. Ultimately, those with more to lose may be able to see a higher rate of fat loss initially if on a correct exercise and nutritional program, which brings us to our second factor of weight loss: exercise.

2. Determining Exercising Frequency

In the ideal scenario we would all have an equal amount of time to exercise, meal prep, and take care of ourselves. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work that way. The best way to start an exercise program is to set a realistic goal of time to commit to exercise. If the answer is once a week, great! If your answer is three times a week, great! Whatever the answer, it’s important to keep the exercise routine consistent and adequately change nutritional intake.

For those able to get to the gym more often, they should also have the time to consume more calories and get the same result. Others who go to the gym less and burn less calories during the week  will need to have a more conservative nutritional plan with less calories. Essentially meaning, the more calories you burn through exercise, the higher calorie count you can consume and still lose weight, however the less calories we burn through exercise, the more disciplined we’ll have to be with our diet so that we can still get the same result. No matter the exercise routine, a person’s ability to consistently follow it will yield the best results, especially when coupled with tracking your eating habits.

3. Creating Consistent Eating Habits

Just like focusing on calories out, it’s also important to focus on calories taken in. It all boils down to how much someone is willing to give up, and the amount of effort they’ll put into weight loss. For those not wanting to track calories, it’s okay! They can still lose weight. Having a sensible meal plan, however, will be important to not make the wrong assumptions about the foods or quantities of calories consumed. For those open to calorie counting, awesome! There’s a multitude of free calorie tracking apps such as My Fitness Pal that take the guesswork out of the equation. These apps give users more diversity in selecting what they eat since they can see how their meals fit into their daily calorie count.

Both methods, tracking or not tracking, can be equally effective. With tracking calories someone can have more freedom with their choices. Without tracking calories, meals will likely be more repetitive to reduce the variables in keeping calorie intake consistent. The rate at which someone will lose weight will be determined by the accuracy of their daily calorie counting compared to their actual consumption. Having a detailed fitness and nutritional plan can make life easier

4. Following a Detailed Fitness and Nutritional Plan

As we can see from other weight loss factors there’s a bit of planning that goes into all this. And although simply eating slightly better and working out a bit more than the previous week will yield favorable results, the more precise and detailed the plan, the better results will be.
To reduce the time, anxiety and frustration that typically come hand in hand with a new weight loss goal, we strongly suggest seeking out a fitness professional to provide a detailed program that’s set up for success from the start. These professionals also will provide clients with a support system that holds accountable to their goals.

5. Having a Support System

A big advantage when working on weight loss is having a realistic plan that aligns with the person’s nutritional and exercise goals. However, a fitness plan is only as good as someone’s ability to follow it and stay consistent. There are days when our motivation to follow through just isn’t there, which is why it’s important to have a failsafe worked into the plan. Having a support system or a person to hold you accountable is one of the best things someone can do to help them achieve their goals. An effective way to stay on track with a fitness plan is having weekly conversations to review performance and fess up to any slips during the week before. And if that person isn’t an option through someone’s fitness journey, then that’s when a fitness coach will be a great asset. This will help turn the need for daily motivation into discipline. Plus, it’s always fun to have someone to celebrate the small wins while overcoming challenges.