person standing on a scale

Weight loss can be a challenging and often frustrating journey for many people. With so many diets and weight-loss programs to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to expect.

But if you know about the different stages of weight loss and what makes it work, it will be easier to stick to your plan and not give up. The truth is that your rate of weight loss will vary during different stages of your weight loss journey. It’s important to keep this in mind to avoid getting discouraged when your efforts are not immediately reflected on the scale.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the weight loss process and its different phases and discuss the benefits of working with a medical professional to achieve your weight loss goals and make the overall process more enjoyable and sustainable for the long term.

Phase 1: Rapid weight loss

The first weight loss phase is often called the “rapid weight loss phase.” During this phase, you can expect to lose the most weight in the shortest amount of time. You may begin to notice changes in your appearance and how your clothes fit. This phase usually happens within the first 4–6 weeks of starting a weight loss program.

During the rapid weight loss phase, most weight loss comes from carbohydrate stores, protein, and water. The weight loss from carb stores occurs because, when the body is in a state of calorie deficit, the body starts to break down glycogen, the stored form of carbohydrate in the liver and muscles.

Water loss is also a big component of weight loss in this phase because it releases water when glycogen is broken down. Body fat loss is also a component of weight loss at this stage, but to a lesser extent.

Low-carb diets during the rapid weight loss phase

Implementing a low-carb diet such as the Atkins or Keto diet may cause greater weight loss at this stage. This is because low-carb diets cause the body to enter a state of ketosis, a metabolic state where the body starts to burn fat for energy instead of carbs.

vegetables in a basket

The lack of glycogen stores the body needs to burn through each day before getting to your fat stores can lead to a faster rate of weight loss in the first few weeks. But it’s important to keep in mind that low-carb diets might not work for everyone, and it’s important to talk to a doctor before starting any new diet that promotes drastic restriction of any macronutrient.

Age and gender

It’s important to note that factors such as age and gender can also affect the speed of weight loss during the first phase. As we age, our metabolism slows down, making it harder to lose weight.

Additionally, men tend to have more muscle mass, which helps boost metabolism, making weight loss faster for men than for women.

man and woman in business casual clothing

But it’s important to remember that losing weight isn’t a one-size-fits-all task.

Physical activity level, diet, and medical history will likely affect weight loss more than gender.

Phase 2: Slow weight loss

After the initial rapid weight loss phase, weight loss tends to slow down and become more gradual. This phase can last anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months or more. During this phase, weight loss primarily comes from body fat. This can be discouraging for some, but it is important to understand that this is a normal part of the weight loss process.

There are several reasons why weight loss slows down during this phase. First, when you lose weight, your body slows down your metabolism to save energy.1 This means you will burn fewer calories at rest, making it harder to lose weight.

Secondly, as you lose weight, your body becomes more efficient at using the calories you consume, meaning that you will need to eat less to continue losing weight. Thirdly, as you lose weight, your body’s hormone levels change, affecting your appetite and energy levels.

To do well during this phase, you must be balanced and follow a good, medically-backed plan for what you eat and how much you work out. Consulting a healthcare professional can help you create a plan tailored to your individual needs and goals. They can also offer support and guidance, helping you to stay motivated and on track.

Weight loss vs. fat loss

When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to make a clear distinction between weight loss and fat loss. Understanding the difference between the two can help you set more realistic goals and track your progress more effectively.

woman exercising on the beach

What is fat loss?

Fat loss refers specifically to the reduction of body fat. It is the process of losing fat stored in adipose tissue, which is found in various parts of the body, such as under the skin, around internal organs, and in muscle tissue. The percentage of body fat in relation to total body weight is referred to as the “body fat percentage.”

fat tissue on a woman

Fat loss is important because it improves overall health outcomes and body composition. A healthy body fat percentage for men is between 8 and 20%, while for women, it is between 21 and 33%.

What is weight loss?

Weight loss, on the other hand, refers to the overall decrease in the number on the scale. This can be a combination of fat loss, muscle loss, and water loss. While weight loss can be a good indicator of progress, it is not always an accurate measure of fat loss. For example, if you lose weight quickly, a significant portion of that weight loss may come from muscle and water rather than fat. This is why tracking weight and body fat percentages are important when trying to lose weight.

Fat loss versus weight loss overall

The main goal when trying to lose weight should be fat loss, not weight loss. While the number on the scale can be motivating, it is not always an accurate measure of progress. Instead, focus on reducing your body fat percentage and improving your overall body composition. This can be achieved through healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Slow, steady weight loss is more sustainable

Slow, steady weight loss is more sustainable over the long term. Crash diets and other extreme ways to lose weight may work quickly, but they are not sustainable and often lead to weight gain.2 Studies indicate that people who lost weight slowly and steadily were likelier to maintain their weight loss over time.3

Overall, it is important to distinguish between weight loss and fat loss and understand that the main goal should be fat loss.

The weight loss plateau – what is it and how to overcome it?

At times, you may experience a period when your progress stalls out. Plateaus are a normal part of losing weight. They can happen for several reasons, such as when you stop exercising, eat more calories, or have a change in your hormone levels.

To get past weight loss stalls, it’s important to look at your habits and make the necessary changes. Cutting too many calories can lead to muscle loss, which will slow your metabolism, so it is important to be careful.

Instead, focus on increasing workout intensity and frequency or overall activity. It is also important to review your diet and see if you are consuming more calories than you think or not getting enough of certain nutrients.

The value of medically guided weight loss

Regarding weight loss, getting support from a healthcare professional can make a big difference in achieving your goals. Medically supervised weight loss programs provide several advantages that can help you lose weight and keep it off.4

Personalized plan

A healthcare professional can help you create a personalized plan that considers your individual needs and goals. They can also keep track of your progress and deal with any health problems that may make it hard for you to lose weight.

healthcare professional looking at a tablet

Referral to a registered dietitian

A doctor can refer you to a registered dietitian who can work with you to create a diet plan tailored to your needs and goals. This can help ensure you get the right nutrients to support weight loss and overall health.

registered dietitian

Weight loss medication

A healthcare professional can also prescribe weight loss medication, such as Wegovy, to help enhance the effects of a healthy diet and exercise. Wegovy is an injectable medication that reduces hunger and promotes weight loss. A study showed that Wegovy helped obese adults lose an average of 12% of their body weight over two years.

Young woman injecting herself

Monitoring progress

Working with a healthcare professional allows for regular monitoring of your progress. They can make changes to your plan as needed and give you ongoing help and support to keep you motivated and on track.

laptop with various metrics showing on the screen

Increased success rates

Medically supervised weight loss programs are more effective than self-directed weight loss efforts.4 According to research, people participating in medically supervised weight loss programs are more likely to lose weight and keep it off in the long run.

Working with a healthcare professional to lose weight can offer several benefits that make the overall process more efficient and effective.

woman measuring her post weight loss tummy

A medically guided weight loss program can be very helpful, especially if you have health problems or need guidance to create a sustainable, long-term health plan.

Final thoughts

Losing weight is a journey that takes time, effort, and commitment. Understanding the different phases of weight loss and the factors determining its success can make it easier to stick to your plan and not get discouraged.

Remember that slow, steady weight loss is more sustainable over the long term, and the key is to approach this phase with balance and a sound, medically-backed plan in terms of nutrition and exercise.

Support from a healthcare professional can help you reach your goals faster and more efficiently. If you want a science-backed weight loss plan tailored to your unique situation with ongoing support, you should talk to a medical professional to make a plan that fits your needs and goals.

Reach Your Weight Loss Goals With Semaglutide

Semaglutide (the same ingredient in Wegovy and Ozempic) is the only proven FDA-approved medication for long-term weight loss and management. Medical weight loss medications can help you on your journey toward your ideal weight.

Book a convenient online consultation and health check followed by a lab test. Eligible individuals will receive a medical weight loss prescription with medications delivered directly to your home.

people doing pilates

References

[1] Most J. - Impact of calorie restriction on energy metabolism in humans. ;

[2] Sagayama H. - Effects of rapid weight loss and regain on body composition and energy expenditure.;

[3] Ashtary-Larky D. - Rapid Weight Loss vs. Slow Weight Loss: Which is More Effective on Body Composition and Metabolic Risk Factors?;

[4] Krishnaswami A. - Real-World Effectiveness of a Medically Supervised Weight Management Program in a Large Integrated Health Care Delivery System: Five-Year Outcomes.;

[4] Krishnaswami A. - Real-World Effectiveness of a Medically Supervised Weight Management Program in a Large Integrated Health Care Delivery System: Five-Year Outcomes.;