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Why does it take so long to lose weight? Let’s find out

chocolate berry shake in a Mason jar
Fitness & Nutrition Editor
Undine is currently studying fitness, health, and wellness to become a certified trainer. She writes articles for foodspring about nutrition and fitness. She also creates free food programs.

Sometimes it seems we just look at a piece of cake and boom, we have some extra cushioning on our hips. But why does it take so long to lose weight? Let us answer that question of all questions. 

Losing weight successfully

To lose weight successfully and for good, you need one thing above all else – patience. Starving yourself to lose a few kilos (that thanks to the yo-yo effect will soon be back) is unfortunately not the answer.

A white man and a white woman do exercises in the corner of a room
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Our Shape Guide is the perfect starting point for your success. To kickstart your journey, the Shape Guide will give you 12 weeks of short, intensive workouts, delicious recipes, and a free nutrition plan.

see our Shape Guide

3 reasons why losing weight takes so long

Moderate calorie deficit  

A moderate calorie deficit is necessary to lose weight in the long run. A too-severe deficit tells your body it’s in an emergency situation and it slows down to conserve energy and store calories. So even if you’re not eating much, you won’t lose any more weight. So, you shouldn’t exceed a maximum deficit of 500kcal per day.  

2. The yo-yo effect  

Your body wants to regain weight quickly after phases of a too-high calorie deficit. And especially if we avoid many things during our diet, we might actually develop a real craving for sweet or fatty things and then cannot stop ourselves from eating. So a crash diet is quickly followed by a phase of over-calorific nutrition and thus weight gain. Again, our tip is: stick to a moderate deficit of 200-500 kcal daily.  

3. It’s a process  

At the beginning of every diet, the pounds shed off quickly and at some point, your weight stagnates, because a diet is usually accompanied by a carbohydrate-reduced diet. Carbohydrates bind water in your body. 1g of carbohydrates binds up to 4g of water. If you reduce your carbs, your body also loses some water. After a while, however, this effect no longer occurs and your weight may stagnate. Don’t let this demotivate you. If you keep on working hard, you will also lose body fat. 

why does it take so long to lose weight? make sure you're adding in strength training
©Cecilie_Arcurs

How can you lose weight quickly?

Losing weight quickly and losing weight in the long run are different beasts. If you lose weight quickly, you will usually regain those kilos just as quickly. With a healthy and balanced diet, though, you’ll be on the right path to your feel-good figure. Regular exercise is also important because working out burns extra calories. Jogging for 20 minutes can burn up to 200 kcal! And building up muscles also ensures that everything looks taut. 

Tip: You can find out how to create your own workout plan here

Find motivation to lose weight

In order to avoid falling back into old patterns after the first few weeks and to prevent your successes from being swept away, it’s important to set yourself a fixed goal. Think very carefully about what you want to achieve and in what time frame. Document your progress regularly. 9 more valuable tips on how to stay motivated can be found in our interview with expert Zimo Tam

Weight loss by the numbers

Gaining weight happens very quickly, but losing weight always takes longer. One reason for this is that carbohydrates bind water and make us heavier. Here’s some numbers about weight loss to put it into perspective:

  • 20 minutes of jogging can burn you 200 calories
  • 1g of carbs can bind with up to 4g of water
  • Make sure not to exceed a 500g calorie deficit

Our summary

A moderate calorie deficit and regular exercise ensure long-term success with weight loss. A deficit that is too high will result in rapid weight loss but runs the risk of the yo-yo effect, where you gain it all back again more quickly than expected.

Article sources
We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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