How Long Does It Take to Notice Weight Loss?

Woman trying on jacket in store

Simone Becchetti / Stocksy United

The time it takes for you to see and for others to notice weight loss results can vary from person to person. Many factors, including your starting size and your eating plan, can make a big difference. In general, however, many people can see results in one to two weeks when they stick to their plan.

When Will You See Weight Loss Results?

There are many different factors that affect how fast you'll see exercise or diet results. Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer about how soon your weight loss will show. These are some of the reasons that results can vary.

Starting Size 

Your starting size will impact how soon you notice results. For example, if your starting weight falls into the obese range on the body mass index (BMI), it is not impossible for your weight to change up to 20 pounds in a single day. But even that amount of weight loss may not be very noticeable on a larger frame.

If you are a woman who has a small build and lower BMI, on the other hand, losing that same 20 pounds can be the difference between several clothing sizes. It would be nearly impossible (and terribly unsafe), however, for a woman of that size to lose that much weight in a day.

If you begin your program with a lower starting BMI, you are likely to have less weight to lose and it will likely come off at a slower rate of about one to two pounds per week. When your starting body size is larger, you are likely to lose more weight at a faster rate—especially in the early days of in your program.

Diet Type

Some diet plans are designed to include an initial phase that results in accelerated weight loss. Atkins, South Beach, and many other popular programs include a jump start for a week or two when food restriction is more intense and you lose more weight.

You can lose five pounds or more per week during this initial phase. As a result, the weight loss will be noticeable sooner. Weight loss experienced during these phases, however, is often attributable to water loss from carbohydrate restriction, not fat loss.

Carbohydrate Intake

Carbohydrate restriction can lead to quick water loss. Your body requires water to store carbohydrates. When you substantially reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume, you also lose the water needed to store it. Shedding excess water helps you to feel and look thinner even though the amount of body fat you carry hasn't changed.

For some people, lost water weight can make the difference between two clothing sizes. But losing water weight is different from losing fat. While cutting back on carbs can be a smart approach to weight loss, it needs to be part of a comprehensive program of healthy eating for sustained weight loss to occur.

Weigh-In Frequency

You're more likely to see big changes in the number on the scale if you weigh yourself less often. Why? Because if you weigh yourself once a week, your new weight will reflect the total number of pounds lost over seven days.

If you weigh yourself every day, on the other hand, you're likely to see small changes, and you may even see weight gain. This experience may make it feel like you are losing weight slowly.

There are many reasons that your weight fluctuates daily, and it is not always the result of how well you followed your weight loss program.

Measurement Method

When you start a weight loss program, your goal may be to fit into a smaller clothing size. Or perhaps the number on the scale means more to you. Others want to see changes to a certain body part like thinner thighs or a flatter tummy. Ultimately, we all want to feel good in our skin, but how we measure progress can affect how soon we see results.

In most cases, you're likely to see changes on the scale first, especially if you have a high tech scale. A digital scale can pick up small changes in your total body weight (even fractions of a pound) that may too small to notice on a single, isolated part of your body.

Next, you're likely to see changes in your clothing. Your actual size won't change right away, but you'll notice that your clothes start to fit differently. You're likely to notice this change sooner if you typically wear more fitted clothing. Eventually, your total weight loss may result in a change in your clothing size.

Lastly, you'll see changes to each body part. While these changes occur throughout the entire weight loss process, you may not notice thinner thighs, for example, until you've lost several pounds. You're more likely to see body part changes sooner if your routine includes an exercise program. Exercise can change the shape of your body. Remember, too, that increased muscle mass can result in weight gain on the scale even as you lose body fat—another reason to embrace a holistic approach to "measuring" your weight loss results rather than focusing on a number.

How Long Until My Clothing Size Changes?

Many people working toward weight loss look forward to the day they go to the store and learn that they fit into a smaller clothing size. For some, this is the moment when they feel that all of their hard work has paid off. So how long does it take before you enjoy that special experience? Again, it varies, and height plays a big role.

If you are a petite woman who is 5 feet tall, a 10-pound weight loss may mean that you've lost up to 10% of your body weight. That amount of weight loss will be very noticeable and can change your clothing size up to two sizes. But if you are a very tall, athletic woman, a 10-pound loss probably won't be noticeable and may not change your clothing size at all.

Many experts say that you should expect to change one clothing size with every 10–12 pounds of weight loss.

Additionally, we usually don't lose weight evenly throughout our bodies. For example, your bra size may get smaller faster than your pant size. Ultimately, your clothing size depends on the measurement of each particular body part:

  • To change your pant size, you need to reduce your waist size by about 1 to 1.5 inches and your hip size by the same amount.
  • To change your top size, you need to reduce your bust and waist measurement by approximately one inch in smaller sizes (size 8 and under) and 1.5 inches in medium and larger sizes (size 10 and up).
  • To change your dress size, you need to reduce your waist, bust, and hip measurements by approximately one inch each depending on the style of the dress and the fit you prefer.

Sample Timeline for Noticeable Weight Loss

Remember that a new clothing size and smaller body are not the only benefits of weight loss, but these are some weight loss changes that you're likely to see. Below is a sample timeline of when you're likely to see these changes if you stick to a healthy reduced-calorie eating plan and a moderate exercise program.

  • Week one: Most people start to see some change in the scale (usually up to five pounds) during this week. You're likely to feel better, but not see major changes in your body.
  • Week two: During week two you're likely to start to see changes in the way your body looks and feels. Exercise starts to feel easier and your clothes will start to feel looser.
  • Week three: This is often when you start to feel momentum in your weight loss journey. If you've been consistent in your plan, your body will respond well and you will start to feel like the program is successful.
  • Week four: By this time, it is very possible that you've lost enough weight (safely) to be a different clothing size. 
  • After week four: Your new eating plan is starting to feel like more of a normal routine. Depending on the amount of weight you have to lose, you may start to return to an adjusted eating plan for weight maintenance.

Want to see weight loss results faster? There are ways to supercharge your diet so that the number on the scale changes more quickly.

A Word From Verywell

At Verywell, we support nutritious eating and regular exercise because we want our readers to be healthy. Look for your weight loss results after a few weeks of dieting and exercise, but be kind and patient with yourself. Each person's body is unique and the rate at which you lose weight may be different than it is for someone else. Stay consistent and remind yourself of the many benefits of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight so that you stay motivated for the duration of your journey.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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