What are the Stages of Weight Loss?

Stages of Weight Loss

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When first starting to actively lose weight, most people, understandably, want to make progress as fast as possible. Speedy progress is encouraging, which in turn makes it much easier to stick with our diet or exercise plans. However, weight loss doesn’t progress at the same pace from start to finish. Instead, it progresses in stages, with rapid results dropping off almost as quickly as they came. This can certainly be discouraging if such a change comes as a surprise, one that might leave you questioning whether your weight loss goals are even worth the trouble.

While this thought is relatively common for people embarking on their weight loss journey for the first time, it doesn’t have to be the case for you. Knowing the two stages of weight loss can help you create a reliable plan of attack and keep you from losing confidence, two factors crucial to a successful attempt at losing weight.

Fat loss vs. weight loss

One of the key contributors to the two stages of weight loss, and the loss of confidence often felt, is the differences between fat loss and weight loss as a whole. When starting our weight loss journey, it can be very easy to conflate the two as being one and the same. Losing fat is often viewed interchangeably as losing weight and vise-versa. However, this is far from the truth.

Weight loss is a general term that refers to the overall decrease in weight. While this decrease could be the result of losing fat, it could just as easily be the result of losing water weight, muscle, and nutrients stored within the body. When starting out on a diet or exercise plan, many of these components are targeted at once, typically resulting in speedy weight loss.

On the other hand, fat loss is a much more specific term. It refers exclusively to the amount of weight lost as a result of burning fat, which can be accurately measured using tools such as skin calipers or specialised measuring scales. While fat is lost at all stages of a weight loss journey, it progresses at a much steadier pace than the various components mentioned earlier.

The two stages of weight loss

Weight loss can be divided into two main stages – the first characterised by rapid, though short-lived progress, and the second by slow but steady progress. While progress is likely to taper off considerably, and may even come to a complete halt, this can be mitigated by using specific fat burning strategies later on in your weight loss journey.

Stage 1 – Quick progress

The first stage occurs during the initial weeks of a weight loss plan, and can be noticed even in the first weigh-in, depending on the plan in question. This rapid weight loss is caused by several factors, though the most significant is usually the dramatic loss in water weight. Many diets reduce carb intake, either by design or as a consequence of another reason, which results in the body retaining less water. A lot of weight will be lost as the body sheds this retained water, leading to major progress reflected on the weighing scales. Additional non-fat-related weight loss can also be caused by the loss of muscle or nutrients, though this is not as common as water-related weight loss.

The length and extent of the first stage of weight loss can vary depending on the diet or exercise plan in question. Other factors also play a part, such as age, sex, whether exercise is included, and starting weight. One common throughline, however, is that this first stage of weight loss does not last long. Weight loss progress will reduce as the second stage begins, though by how much depends on your weight loss plan.

Stage 2 – Slow but steady progress

After the initial weeks of a new weight loss plan, the second stage of weight loss will kick in. This stage is characterised by a much slower pace of weight loss, possibly even grinding to a complete halt at times. As we mentioned, this is often due to changes in diet resulting in your body making quick changes over a short space of time. While it’s easy to be discouraged during this stage, deviating from your weight loss plan too much will bring that weight back as quickly as it was lost. For this reason, it can be more beneficial in the long term to avoid strict diets that completely go against your preferences, in favour of an easier diet coupled with regular exercise.

Improving your weight loss progress

Losing weight is not an easy endeavour, and maintaining a good rate of progress can be even more of a challenge. That said, there are a few strategies you can employ to maintain and even improve your weight loss progress. Here are a few of the more commonly effective tips:

Regular exercise

Exercise and losing weight go hand in hand. While dieting can certainly help you cut out poorer food choices and start losing weight, exercise is a must for quick progress. If you can do both together, you’ll progress even quicker. By combining a good diet with regular exercise, you’ll find it easier to establish a calorie deficit, which is the primary goal to losing weight. You’ll also burn fat quicker, build muscle, ensure a healthier heart, and enjoy a range of other benefits.

Also Read: Hydration & Weight Loss

Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be a grueling activity to be effective. Sure, running a mile every day will have you losing weight no problem, but if you aren’t a big fan of running, you might struggle to stay motivated. Rather than risk slipping out of your exercise routine, you might find it best to pick a less strenuous but more preferable form of exercise. Swimming, biking, sports, and walking are all reliable options. You can even find various indoor exercise routines online, if you’d prefer to start from the comfort of your home. As long as it gets you moving, anything is a step towards weight loss.

Dietary habits

Cultivating healthy dietary habits is another great step towards your weight loss goals. This doesn’t only mean watching what you eat, but also how you eat. Cutting out as many unhealthy foods from your diet as possible, such as processed foods or foods high in sugar content, is one common tactic. Another tactic, albeit less common, is to use small plates when serving your meals. You won’t be eating less, but it’ll have the effect of tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are, making you feel full quicker. Eating without any distractions, such as your phone or T.V., has a similar effect. By establishing these healthy eating habits, not only will you have a tangible effect on your health by leaving out bad foods, but you’ll also find it easier to resist the urge to snack or eat more than you should.

Cultivate a healthy sleep cycle

Creating a healthy sleep cycle is another often overlooked, but highly impactful contributor to weight loss. Regularly missing out on sleep will naturally leave you feeling tired, but you’re also more likely to feel more stressed. As such, your body will demand more food – partially to gain much-needed energy, and partially to combat feelings of stress. Skipping breakfast due to a late rise can also lead to more snacking throughout the day, as your body is looking to fill its energy deficit. By cultivating a healthier sleep cycle, these problems will become much less impactful, and you’ll have an easier time achieving your weight loss goals.

Wrapping up

All in all, weight loss progresses in two primary stages. You’ll typically experience rapid progress in the first stage, which will drop off substantially after a few weeks once the second stage is reached. While this can be discouraging, especially if it catches you by surprise, a thorough weight loss plan, coupled with some healthy habits and a bit of determination, will ensure you stay on track to achieve your weight loss goals.

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Ian Weight Loss

Lost 5st 4lbs
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Best thing since a slice of cake.! After seeing a picture of myself at Christmas 2015, l decided to do something so l took the plunge and phoned Alevere.  Hard bit done, the diet is simple, follow it as advised, and watch the pounds fall off, and they literally did.  The hardest thing is walking through the doors, but remember everyone there is in your shoes. I feel 21 again.

Ian Kitchingman

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