Here’s everything you need to know about how quickly you can lose fat safely and sustainably
One of the most understandable questions you could ever ask when you want to shrink the size of your belly is, “how long is this going to take?”
Now, obviously this depends where you’re starting from. Someone who is carrying a lot of excess body fat is going to need more time than the guy who already has a four-pack and is trying to tease out those final two abdominals to get a rock-hard six-pack.
So let’s paint a picture of the average guy. And to do that I’m going to use myself and a couple of our recent success stories as examples.
The top line is that you can make a substantial difference to how you look and feel in a short space of time using methods that are both enjoyable and sustainable, if you do the following things:
- You’re focused and consistent
- You train hard
- You follow a smart training and nutrition plan
You also need to acknowledge that we’re all different and that means we’ll all lose fat at different rates. There are a few factors that influence this – some of which are in your control and some of which aren’t. Here are the main ones that will influence your rate of progress:
- How hard you train: This may be obvious but it’s worth mentioning. If you want an amazing result, you need to put the effort in. The good thing is, if you see results then suddenly working hard becomes a whole lot easier.
- How often you train: Success is in part dictated by training volume (the amount of work you do). More work is generally better, provided you can recover properly, that it doesn’t impact the intensity of your sessions and it’s something you’re able to stick to. In my experience, four sessions a week for people trying to get back in shape is the sweet spot. More than that and you risk under-recovering and missing sessions, which will be demotivating and derail your progress.
- Genetics: This one is pot luck. Some people simply add muscle and lose fat faster than others. The majority of people are pretty similar, however. There are a few freaks who only have to look at a dumbbell to put on lean muscle, but they are rare. Equally, unless you have underlying health issues, there’s no reason you can’t make good progress.
- Age: Younger guys will tend to find it easier to lose fat and gain muscle but, again, there is no reason that age should prevent you from gaining progress. You may just need to work a bit smarter (and that’s what I’m here to help you with). The majority of our success stories are middle aged guys who grew a belly over time and finally decided to do something about it.
- Previous experience: Generally speaking, if two guys are in exactly the same shape now but one of them has been in good shape in the past and the other has never been in good shape, the guy with experience is probably going to make faster progress. But that’s a tendency rather than an absolute and whoever you are and whatever you’ve done (or not done) in the past, you can make great progress.
How long does it take to get in shape?
Let’s look at what you can achieve in different spaces of time
How much weight can you lose in 1 week?
No one ever transformed their body in seven days, but you knew that already, right? What you can do in seven days is make a great start that will set you up for success. You may also find that you drop weight, although it may well be largely water weight rather than fat. The point is, if you can make your first seven days count then you massively increase your chances of longer term success.
How much weight can you lose in 4 weeks?
You can do a lot in four weeks. You probably can’t get into cover model shape, unless you’re starting from a good position in the first place, but you may be able to drop a good few kilos.
How much weight can you lose in 6 weeks?
This is probably the shortest amount of time that you’ll need to undergo a genuine body transformation. We’ve had guys who have got themselves in cover model shape in this time and we’ve had guys who have lost over 12kg in this time. That’s not going to happen to everyone, but it does show you what’s potentially possible.
How much weight can you lose in 8 weeks?
If we’ve established what’s possible in six weeks then it makes sense that you could push even further in eight weeks, right? Eight weeks is how long it took me to go from being overweight to appearing on the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine so I know first hand what you can do in that timeframe. The big difference between six- and eight-week plans is probably that there’s a bit of room for error in eight week programmes, whereas with six week plans you should aim to hit the ground running.
How much weight can you lose in 12 weeks?
This is a time-frame that can be very useful and you obviously have more time than a six- or eight-week plan. One thing to be aware of is the psychological element of a transformation. It’s a vital element of the project and the benefit of a six-week plan is that it is a very manageable timescale. 12 weeks, by comparison, can seem like more of a commitment and a more intimidating undertaking, although it certainly does give you enough time to get a great result.
Weight loss FAQ
How much is it safe to lose each week?
There’s a frequently-quoted idea that losing 1lb (about 0.5kg) a week is safe. In my experience, the important factors to consider when determining what’s safe is how much training you’re doing, how much you’re eating, how you recover and how you feel. The client I had recently who lost 12.1kg in 6 weeks made rapid progress but he did it by following a very sound and sustainable plan. He never did more than four hour-long workouts a week and he never ate less than 2,000 calories a day. He recovered well and he felt great. So a smart approach is to make sure that the system you’re using is safe and sustainable and then let your body decide how much it wants to lose.
What should I do if I hit a weight loss plateau?
This is where a lot of people go wrong. As soon as they plateau they panic and think that what they’re doing isn’t working. The truth is that fat loss isn’t linear. You’ll lose more in some weeks than others. My advice is to trust the process, train hard and be consistent. It’s likely that you’ll soon move forwards. If two or three weeks pass and you’re not making progress then it would make sense to adjust something about how you eat and train but this doesn’t mean you need to turn everything upside down. It may mean, for example, that you might respond better to a low-carb breakfast or the addition of a 10-minute high intensity fat loss finisher to the end of your workouts.
Why does rapid weight loss get a bad press?
It gets a bad press because it is so often done badly. Rapid weight loss can be a compelling pitch, and some people with dubious ethics are willing to exploit that. The worst offenders are ultra-low calorie diets or highly restrictive eating systems such as juice diets. They’re unhealthy and they’re unsustainable. They’re promoted by people who either don’t care about your health and wellbeing or by people who don’t know what they’re doing. Whatever approach you choose and whatever your timeframe, it has to be one that’s sustainable.
What’s the best way of tracking my weight?
I’d recommend using a digital smart scale because it will measure body fat and muscle mass as well as weight. That means you’ll be able to differentiate between adding fat or adding muscle. Want to track your body-fat and lean muscle mass levels accurately? Here’s my in-depth digital bathroom scales review.
Ready to burn fat fast? Take my 30-second New Body Quiz to find your perfect rapid fat loss plan.