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How Long Will It Take Me to Lose 10 Pounds?

written by: Deborah Walstad • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 5/30/2009

Because everyone's body is different, there is no hard and fast rule on how soon you will lose weight. Size, age, genetics, muscle composition and a whole bunch of other factors combine to determine one's weight loss speed. Read on to learn a healthy speed and how to increase your success.

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    One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. To lose one pound, one has to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. A deficit means a decrease in calories from what you would normally eat. A 10-pound deficit comes out to 35,000 calories. If you trimmed 500 calories a day from your daily diet, in theory you could lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks. Shave off 1,000 calories a day and that number goes down to 5 weeks. Since for many of us shaving 1,000 calories a day from our diets would be a very bad idea, be reasonable in your caloric goals.

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    Healthy Weight Loss

    Unfortunately, our bodies don't always do what physics say they should do. A healthy weight loss is between one and two pounds a week, so in theory you can lose in as soon as 5 weeks or as long as 10 weeks. That's assuming you aren't at a plateau phase because you've already been losing for awhile. In fact, if you have a lot of pounds to lose and are just getting started, you may lose 10 pounds faster than average.

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    Other Factors

    In addition to your caloric intake, there are all kinds of other factors that go into how quickly you lose weight. For example, during your menstrual cycle, you can gain lots of water weight. Your metabolism and muscle-to-mass ratio also will impact how much you lose. If you are exercising, you may burn more calories. On the other hand, if you're exercising, you may be building muscle which will bring the number on the scale up a bit. This isn't a bad thing because muscle actually burns fat.

    In addition, the older you get the more your metabolism starts to slow. In fact, if you'ce been yo-yo dieting or taking any medications that have weight gain as a side effect, your metabolism could be affected as well. This is because the less active you are, the less muscle you have. The less muscle you have, the fewer calories you burn. You are better served just eating well and exercising rather than trying to lose by a certain time, although small goals are good for motivation. Just don't be a slave ot the scale.

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    The Right Attitude

    Because there are so many factors out of your control, one shouldn't hinge their weight loss on arbitrary numbers. Your body will lose on its own schedule, and it will have a lot to do with the kinds of foods you are eating, whether you are staying properly hydrated and whether you are working out. Do not get frustrated if you don't lose as quickly as you would like to because slow and steady weight loss is more lasting than anything you could be doing to lose 10 pounds in a couple of short weeks.