How Long Does It Take to See Weight Loss Results?

Find out how long it takes to change your clothing size

Woman trying on jacket in store
Simone Becchetti/Stocksy United

The time it takes for you to see (and 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 if they stick to their plan.

Factors That Affect How Quickly You'll See Weight Loss Results

There are many different factors that affect how fast you'll see 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.

  • Your starting size. If your starting weight falls into the obese range on the body mass index, it is not impossible for your weight to change up to 20 pounds in a single day. But that amount of weight loss may not be very noticeable on a larger frame. However, if you are a petite woman and you lose 20 pounds that amount of weight loss can be the difference between several clothing sizes. It would be nearly impossible (and terribly unsafe), however, for a tiny woman to lose that much weight in a day. If you are smaller, you are likely to have less weight to lose and it will come off a little bit slower. 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 diets are set up to include an initial phase where you lose more weight. 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.
  • How often you weigh yourself. You're more likely to see big changes in the number if you weigh yourself less often. Why? Because if you weigh yourself once a week, the result will be the total number of pounds lost over seven days. If you weigh yourself everyday, you're likely to see small changes and you may even see weight gain. There are many different reasons that your weight changes every day and it is not always the result of how well you followed your diet.
  • How you measure weight loss results. When you start a diet 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.

    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 more comfortably and hang a little bit looser. You're most likely to notice this change sooner if you typically wear more fitted (tighter) clothing. Eventually, if you stick to your weight loss program, the weight loss from your total body will result in a reduction in your clothing size.

    Lastly, you'll see changes to each body part. Of course, these changes will be happening throughout the entire weight loss process. But 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 you start an exercise program while you are dieting. Keep in mind, however, that exercise can improve the shape of your body and make it tighter and more attractive. But improved muscle mass can result in weight gain on the scale—even though your body is smaller and looks better.

    How Long Until My Clothing Size Changes?

    One of the best parts of the weight loss journey is when you go to the store and learn that you fit into a smaller clothing size. For most dieters, this is the moment when you feel that all of your hard work has paid off. So how long does it take before you enjoy that special experience? Again, it varies. Height plays a big role.

    If you are a petite woman who is five feet tall, a ten pound weight loss may mean that you've lost up to ten percent of your body weight. That amount of weight loss will be very noticeable and can change her clothing size up to two sizes. But if you are a very tall athletic woman, a ten-pound loss probably won't even 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 lost. But we usually don't lose weight evenly throughout our bodies. Unfortunately, the stubborn areas usually take the longest to change. So 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.

    When You'll See Weight Loss Results (Sample Timeline)

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

    • Week one: Most dieters 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 loose.
    • Week three: Week three is when you start to feel momentum in your weight loss journey. If you've been consistent in your plan, your body is responding well and you start to feel like the program is successful.
    • Week four: By week four 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 often.

    When Will I Become More Attractive?

    Many dieters invest in a weight loss plan to improve their health. But others do it to change their appearance and become more attractive. Of course, whether or not you are—or become—attractive is subjective, but researchers have investigated the amount of weight you need to lose before people notice a change in your appearance.

    Scientists at the University of Toronto evaluated weight loss and facial attractiveness. Their findings, published in Social Psychology and Personality Science suggest that you need to lose about eight or nine pounds before others notice a difference in your face. That's the good news. The bad news is that you need to lose twice that amount before others find you more attractive.

    Study author Nicholas Rule is an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Social Perception and Cognition at the University of Toronto. In a release, he explained that they investigated facial adiposity (the amount of fatness in your face) because it is a "robust indicator of one's health." He went on to provide some good news for women. "Women's facial attractiveness may be more sensitive to changes in weight," said Rule. "This just means women attempting to lose weight need to shed slightly fewer pounds than men for people to find them more attractive."

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