How Much Weight Do You Need To Lose To Notice A Difference

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Medically reviewed by Gopal Ramakrishnan, Ph. D (Biochemistry)

How Much Weight Do You Need To Lose To Notice A Difference

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention[1] the prevalence of obesity among Americans was 42.4% in 2017-2018. Nowadays, pretty much everyone is trying to lose those extra pounds and stay fit. Is it not the best feeling when people notice when you lose a few pounds? That probably will make your day or even a week. We know, it takes blood, sweat, and tears to achieve weight loss. It does not matter how much weight you lose, but even when you shed only a few pounds, people still notice it. That motivates you to lose more weight. To have that best feeling, here is how much weight you need to lose. 

How Much Weight Do You Need to Lose To See a Difference?

Honestly, it depends on your BMI and body type. Your height and weight plays a significant role here. However, on average, you would need to lose something in the range of 14 to 19 pounds to notice a difference in your weight. Think about it in percentages. You will start noticing the difference, as soon as you lose a minimum of 2% to 5% of your body weight. Focus on a weight loss regime that works slowly but surely, rather than going with the flashier ones which are not sustainable in the long run.   

How much weight do you need to lose to notice weight loss?

We first notice the difference in initial weight loss through our face. According to the University of Toronto[2] , Canada research chair of social perception and cognition, the university news release named it as Nicholas Rule, which states men and women of average height need to gain or lose about eight and nine pounds (three and half to four kilograms) for anyone to notice the difference in face.

Furthermore, Canadian researchers also found that women need to shed slightly a few more pounds than men to look more attractive to people. And the average amount of shedding needed to make your face more appealing in photos, for an average woman of typical height is 14 pounds, and for men, it is 18 pounds.

University of Toronto also stated that a person’s face is a robust indicator of their health. Increased facial adiposity is linked to compromised immune system and cardiovascular function, stress levels, more prone to frequent respiratory infections, blood pressure, and mortality. So, a few dropped pounds from a person’s face can help improve one’s health.

How much weight is a healthy weight ?

To know the amount of body fat one needs to lose, we first need to understand body mass index  and its significance. Body mass index is a person’s body weight in kilograms divided by square of height in meters. One can calculate it through a BMI index chart[3]  and set their weight loss goals. 

Healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9. Now, you know how to figure out how much weight you need to lose. Follow a safe and effective weight loss strategy to improve one’s health. Most of the doctors agree with the fact that losing 1-2 pounds a week is ideal for sustainable weight loss. 

Which part of the body fat do we lose first?

This is one of the most asked questions when it comes to body-targeted weight loss. Where we lose weight first largely depends on several genetic factors. Just like our body is programmed to lose fat from certain body parts. Your diet, workout regime, sexual life, hormones, and age plays a vital role in how rapidly one can drop a few pounds. 

If you have ever been on a weight loss journey before, you might be aware of where your body might be losing fat. For some, it might be the waistline to see first weight changes. But for others, it could be the face or breasts. A study published[4]  recently found that women tend to lose more fat from their hips, whereas men tend to lose weight from their trunk area. 

Furthermore, gaining and losing fat at certain body parts tend to change as you age. Postmenopausal women and middle aged men tend to store fat around the midsections. A study involving[5]  female soldiers who were on an intense training program for 12 weeks found that they lost most of the fat from their arms, trunks and fat mass in their legs remained unchanged.

How to notice weight loss?

There are various factors that affect our weight loss like diet and exercise. Although there are no evident answers about the rate of losing weight, here are some reasons and tips that one needs to consider to notice the lost weight.

Starting size 

Starting size can impact on how fast the results would be noticeable. If you have higher BMI to start with, weight fluctuation may not be evident on a large frame. And a larger body is more likely to lose weight faster. Significantly during the early days of weight loss, if you fall under a small frame with lower BMI, weight may come down slowly, but it will be evident very soon. People with low BMI will have less weight to shed and it will come down at a slower rate at one to two pounds a week.

Diet type

Few popular diets like Atkins and South Beach are designed in such a way that there would be accelerated weight change in the initial phase. Many diets also include intense food restriction for the first and second week to drop some pounds in a short period. One can lose upto five or more pounds during this period. This helps you notice losing weight sooner. But you lose water weight here, due to restriction of carbohydrates, and not fat loss.

Carbohydrate intake

As mentioned earlier, carbohydrate restriction can make you shed water weight too quickly. Body needs water to store carbohydrates. When you restrict carbohydrates, you lose water which is needed to store it. Losing water weight can make you look thinner, but fat loss does not happen yet. Cutting on carbohydrates can help you lose weight but eating a healthy diet along with that can make a world of difference. It can land you in a healthy BMI soon and quickly get back in shape.

Measurement method

When you get started with a weight loss plan, most of us want to fit into our favourite clothes that no longer fits us. Or perhaps, many want to have thinner thighs and killer abs. For some, numbers on the weighing machine means a lot. Afterall, we want to be comfortable in our skin. Do you know that the way we measure progress can have an impact on our results? Firstly, you will most likely see changes on your scale. Secondly, on tight fitting clothing. Whereas, some see changes in their belly, face, and thighs instantly. This could be genetic. But if you want to see changes in certain parts of your body, then exercise is your best friend. Exercise can change your frame. But remember, increased muscle mass can increase your weight even if you are losing fat. So focus on fat loss rather than number.

Size changes in clothing

If you are someone who looks forward to fitting into small size clothes, then this is to brief you about how much weight you need to lose. Did you know that your height plays a huge role? Lets say, if you are an average woman who is 5 feet tall, a 10 pound weight loss can be equal to losing 10% of body weight. People notice even a small decrease and you can size it down upto two sizes. But for tall and athletic women, a drop of 10 pounds may go unnoticed and may not see a change in clothing size at all. Most experts say that one could expect your clothes to fit differently or change in clothing size with every 10 to 12 pounds of lost weight. Furthermore, weight changes do not happen evenly across the body. For example, your bra size may come down faster than your pant size.

Here are a few things you can do to notice weight difference in no time 

  • Cut on sugars and salty foods completely.
  • Eat a high protein breakfast
  • Practice mindful eating 
  • Drink water before meals
  • Eat lots of soluble fiber
  • Exercise along with diet
  • Good amount of probiotics
  • Drink unsweetened black coffee and green tea
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Diet with whole foods
  • Consume healthy fats
  • Natural weight loss supplements for weight loss

Although most diets work based on permitting very fewer calories, they are not sustainable in the long run. In fact, you might gradually gain weight twice as much as you have lost. Faster shedding is unlikely to last as it is harder to maintain. Consume a healthy diet which consists of healthy fat content, proteins, and whole foods. Hire a personal trainer, as they understand our body better and with their help, you will notice weight change in no time.


+ 5 sources

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  1. Anon, (2021). Products – Data Briefs – Number 360 – February 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db360.htm [Accessed 2 Jun. 2021].
  2. University of Toronto News. (2015). Losing weight can make you more attractive, experts say – but there’s a catch. [online] Available at: https://www.utoronto.ca/news/losing-weight-can-make-you-more-attractive-experts-say-%E2%80%93-theres-catch [Accessed 2 Jun. 2021].
  3. CDC (2020). Assessing Your Weight. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/index.html#:~:text=If%20your%20BMI%20is%20less,falls%20within%20the%20obese%20range [Accessed 2 Jun. 2021].
  4. Benito, P.J., Cupeiro, R., Peinado, A.B., Rojo, M.A. and Maffulli, N. (2017). Influence of previous body mass index and sex on regional fat changes in a weight loss intervention. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, [online] 45(4), pp.450–457. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28914104/ [Accessed 2 Jun. 2021].
  5. Wood, P.S., Krüger, P.E. and Grant, C.C. (2010). DEXA-assessed regional body composition changes in young female military soldiers following 12-weeks of periodised training. Ergonomics, [online] 53(4), pp.537–547. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20309749/ [Accessed 2 Jun. 2021].

Written by:

Dr. Lakshmi Vemuri

Medically reviewed by:

Lakshmi Vemuri holds a bachelor’s degree in Dentistry. She is also a published author of several Food and Wellness books. Lakshmi has a profound interest in alternative medicines, various forms of physical exercise, mental health, diets, and new inventions in medical sciences. Besides being a dentist, Lakshmi is passionate about gardening and is an environmental enthusiast

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