Alright, let the truth be spoken. Getting into a fitness regime is tough for beginners, as is for anyone to do anything new that “changes” you for the better. And since we mentally take it to be an effort that we are making for our body, we also want to see results. That makes us expect goals, most often, in numbers.
“How many pounds/kilos can I lose in 12 weeks?”
This is a very common question and of course, very logical too, since you should have a measure to quantify your results. And in common context, that is the weight loss number on the scale. However, things aren’t that easy to quantify in absolute terms.
Let me explain with Science…
Every human body is different. There are a hundred variables which determine your progress. Your metabolism is a factor that is determined by decades of your lifestyle. How you have treated your body all this while determines how your internal functions are, that eventually determines your metabolism and that determines your rate of progress. As long as we take care to not go too low in intake to make sure your metabolism doesn’t suffer further, this rate is constant for an individual for a short time (say, 3-9 months when you can’t necessarily build enough lean mass to change your metabolism and basal energy expenditure significantly).
Any significant change in metabolism can happen over an extended period of time only, not in 3-9 months. Hence your rate of progress is predetermined, as long as the rest of the factors are taken care of, scientifically speaking.
(The term “metabolism” isn’t quite right here, It is actually basic energy expenditure, or BMR, however let’s just call it metabolism for now.)
“Every human body is different. There are a hundred variables which determine your progress.”
Few of the numerous variables which make you unique are –
1. Starting Weight
What weight are you starting at? (higher the starting weight, better the weight loss). People who were 145 kg heavy have enrolled with me, and have gone down to even 90 kg in a matter of 8 months, and that is a TREMENDOUS result. But that doesn’t happen to everyone.
Similarly, some people starting at 54 kg have lost just 3 kg in 12 weeks. Nevertheless, have changed their health and appearance greatly (which is completely independent of their scale display!)
As explained above already.
One more thing to note here is your past and current eating habits/history –
If you have eaten very less food for a long period of time earlier, trying to lose weight (even if you have lost, that’s unhealthy), especially paired with a lot of cardio, then you may have already sabotaged your metabolism by losing a considerable amount of lean mass and down-regulating your systems. And it will take a lot of time to rebuild it (at least to gain back that lean mass to be able to increase your expenditure again). So accept the mistake you have made, and if your progress is slow because of this, workout more (weight training) to stimulate your muscle fibres and hence rebuild the lost lean mass and get your systems back to be performing well again.
Yes, your progress will be slower than others because of your slow metabolism, but that makes it all the way more important for you to put in more efforts.
Work harder. Embrace your variables, your constant rate, but ensure a steady progress.
Slow progress is always better than no progress at all.
Give your best efforts, get your best results.
And remember, patience and consistency (adherence) are the most important factors to achieve your goals.
Remember this: Low carb/High fat OR high carb/Low fat are of negligible importance compared to adherence and consistency.
3. Hormonal signature
Your hormonal profile is totally different from someone else, depending on everything you have done to your body so far, and many other factors.
Thyroid hormones, Sex (reproductive) hormones, leptin, cortisol, insulin resistance – everything determines your rate of progress.
TIP: Take less stress, weight train well, follow your diet well and precisely.
4. How long have you been in this state?
How long have you been at your current weight? How long have you been obese?
People who have gained weight in a very short time recently (pregnancy, injury, etc.) can lose it just as fast. However, if you have been on the heavier side for quite some time, it takes more time.
The longer a body is in a state of homeostasis (a comfortable place it can easily be in), the harder it is to move it from that place. Even if you lose some weight, your body will come back to this place again. So the goal would be to keep pushing it out of the zone till it finds a new comfortable place (a new state of homeostasis, close to your goal weight). Losing a few kilos and stopping your efforts will bring you back to the same old pavilion again, since your body is in love with the old comfortable place.
TIP: Evacuate it completely from there. Take it as far as you can from that place. Keep it happy in the new place, and give it a reason, a purpose to stay in the new city. Find it a good job there. (Science based healthy eating, Active lifestyle, Regular weight training, new fitness goal every 3 months)
Efforts are a big determinant of the entire progress, keeping in mind the above factors too.
So following the diet PRECISELY and working out regularly determines the major chunk of your progress and the progress rate.
TIP: Maintain a log to track your daily effort.
6. Timely Progress Tracking
You should make it a habit to track your progress on a designated check-in date in detail in the morning. This is very important for your progress, because you have to make changes to your plans regularly based on your progress to make sure you are not eating at a constant lower calorie for weeks at a stretch. You may do forward dieting or reverse dieting (either start at lower calories and increase with time, or start somewhere up and decrease with time), but in either of the cases, the timely modifications are important, especially when you hit a plateau.
So don’t forget to track your progress on time. Be very careful about this. Set a reminder.
TIP – Take the average of your weights for the whole week and compare this average week-by-week to eliminate factors that may have a role in causing fluctuations like stress, sleep cycle, water retention, bowel movements, salt intake, etc.
TIP #2 for women – Your body retains water temporarily during periods. So don’t be alarmed if you see an increase around that time of the month. Let it get over and then start monitoring again.
7. Patience, Faith, No comparisons
Have faith in the process, and on yourself. And have enough patience to understand that you are on the right track. Results don’t come overnight. Have patience, work for it and most importantly, don’t compare your results and yourself with anyone, because all the above factors are Different for each and every one and that is exactly what makes you unique!
You put YOUR 100% efforts, you will get YOUR 100% results, not someone else’s, but yours. 🙂
How much will I lose? – Please, Please, Please give me a number?
Alright, I get it. We are humans after all. You do need a goal of course.
So here you go –
Losing a pound of fat needs a calorie deficit of 3500 to be created. If you create a deficit of 500 calories in a week, then you lose about 500 gm in a week. In fitness science, this is the golden number of weight loss and is a targeted digit on the scale. This is decent progress.
If you do this, you will lose around 6 kg in 12 weeks, which technically, is good.
But if you are starting at say, 120 kg, then, of course, you won’t be happy with this number considering you have seen better results.
You have to create a bigger deficit. Around 700-1000 cals a day (It is a lot). Here’s where proper workout comes into the picture. If you work out well, you can lose anywhere from 600 gm to 1200 gm a week (on an average, again considering many different factors). If you do, you’ll lose 8 kg to 15 kg in 12 weeks, and that’s very good progress if you are starting at a higher weight category.
(Do keep in mind that some people do lose more than that, or less than that, based on the factors I mentioned earlier (metabolism, etc.)
NEAT – Non exercise Activity Thermogenesis:
Take two people with the same age, sex, height, lean mass, workout regime and diet – One at 130 kg and one at 70 kg.
Who do you think will lose more weight keeping the above factors constant?
Well yes, you are right the 130 kg person will lose more.
There are several different reasons for this. However, one important reason here is NEAT.
What is NEAT?
NEAT stands for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It is basically the energy that is used by the body in activities that aren’t necessarily exercise or workouts in nature. It can be as small as standing up from your chair, to moving a bottle from one table to another. And it is this very type of energy expenditure that determines the rate of progress in an individual. If you are a very active person, your NEAT itself can be 300-1000 calories even if you weigh really less. That means that you are effectively increasing your expenditure by 1000 calories just by moving around actively, walking, running to the shop, lifting the table at the house to help your mom clean, etc!
That’s why an “active lifestyle” is important and diet and workout alone aren’t sufficient to determine your progress.
Now coming back to the comparison, that 130 kg person will be effectively carrying 50 kg more weight than the 70 kg person even if he/she stands and walks 5 steps. That’s a lot of energy expenditure if the activity of the whole day is put into perspective. That explains one big reason why a heavier person sees significant results than his/her skinnier counterpart.
There you have it! All the science and logic explained to answer your “How much can I lose” query.
I know, it’s a little long, but it will be worth your time to go through it again when you get demotivated in your journey. Knowing and understanding the science and logic behind it helps you stay at peace, and at pace. However, one thing that should remain constant and shouldn’t be compromised with, is your dedication and effort. That should always be at 100%. If that is on point then you can be patient and at ease, waiting to reach your goals in a matter of time.
All The Best!
Article Credits – Dev Biswas