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Once you set a weight loss goal, it can be frustrating when it seems like you aren’t moving toward it fast enough. This usually isn’t a problem with you- it’s caused by having unrealistic expectations for your body.
The average person can only safely create a calorie deficit that lets them lose about 5-2 pounds in a week. When you’re overweight, however, it’s easier to create a calorie deficit if you typically have a high-calorie diet.
So, do fatter people lose weight faster?
Yes, bigger people can lose weight faster than average-size people. You need to create a calorie deficit of around 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat. Overweight people can create this deficit while consuming more calories. They are also less likely to lose muscle mass while dieting because their body burns fat first.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at whether bigger people lose weight faster and why. I’ll also answer some other questions you might have about weight loss when you’re overweight or obese.
Do Bigger People Lose Weight Faster?
Yes, fatter people do usually lose weight faster than people who are average weight. The reason for this is that fat people have an easier time creating a calorie deficit without negatively affecting muscle mass.
To understand this, you have to understand the basics of how weight loss works. Keep in mind as I go over this that this is only about losing fat- it takes things like water weight and bloating that can make you look fatter some days and feel heavier out of the equation.
To lose a pound of body fat, you need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. If a person has a higher calorie diet, as people who are overweight might, it’s easier to safely create this deficit and lose weight.
People who have more body fat also burn that fat before burning muscle. When someone who is average-sized loses weight, there is a risk of their body burning muscle instead of fat if they create too much of a calorie deficit.
Finally, physical activity is often more effective in fat people than people of average weight. When you’re overweight, you have to work harder to move your body while working out and you burn more calories as a result.
Why Do Fatter People Lose Weight Faster?
People are more likely to have an easier time losing weight when they are regularly consuming a high-calorie diet before they lose weight. Eating a diet that is constantly more than your body needs is a contributing figure to weight gain, so it’s common in people who are overweight.
This matters because a person with a higher-calorie diet will have an easier time creating the calorie deficit needed to lose weight. Body composition also matters, as a person who has more body fat is likely to burn that instead of muscle mass, while someone with little body fat who diets might lose muscle mass at first.
That being said, the ability to create a calorie deficit isn’t the only thing that affects weight loss. Additionally, people who are overweight are more likely to have hormone levels that support the accumulation of fat, so they have unique challenges that come along with losing weight, too.
Weight Loss and Calorie Deficits
As I mentioned earlier, it takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat. This deficit can be stretched out over the course of a week, month, or however, you track your weight. Let’s take a look at what this deficit looks like for different bodies.
A person that eats about 3,500 calories per day can reduce their calorie intake to 2,000 calories and create a deficit of 1,500 calories per day or 10,500 calories in a week. This ends up being 3 pounds of fat loss without factoring in exercise or other activities to burn weight.
By contrast, a person who only eats 2,500 calories on average can only create a deficit of 1,000 calories per day if they are eating 1,500 calories, which is the absolute minimum recommended calorie intake for men (it’s 1,200 for women). This ends up being 2 pounds of weight, and that’s with eating the absolute minimum.
How Body Composition Affects Weight Loss
Your ratio of fat to muscle and how it’s distributed around your body are also going to affect weight loss. People who are overweight are more likely to burn fat once they reach a consistent calorie deficit, especially because it’s so easy for their bodies to access.
For people who are thinner, there’s a greater risk of creating a deficit that is more than their bodies can handle. When this happens, your body is more likely to burn lean muscle mass. In fact, this is one of the reasons that people sometimes look fat even when they’ve lost weight.
Physical Activity and Burning Calories
Weight loss isn’t only about what you are putting into your body. While eating healthier and cutting calories can help, being physically active will bring you even closer to meeting your weight loss goals.
For someone who is overweight, it’s harder to work out. You are moving more weight whenever you move your body and the effort helps you burn more calories than a person of average weight would. This added weight is also a contributing factor to fat people being strong and having big calves.
What Other Factors Affect Weight Loss?
Of course, losing weight is never as simple as just counting calories. There are a variety of factors that affect weight loss and it’s completely normal for a person’s weight to fluctuate. You might have even noticed that you look fatter at night than you did when you woke up.
For starters, some people have a genetic disposition for being overweight. Research shows a person’s genes can affect their likelihood to be overweight by anywhere from 40-70% depending on the individual.
A person’s genes affect things like their body composition and fat distribution, snack cravings, metabolism, appetite, ability to feel full, and likelihood to stress eat. However, these aren’t the only factors that affect a person’s ability to lose weight.
Factors like hydration and quality of sleep directly affect metabolism. Your weight loss efforts could also be affected by family habits and culture, your level of physical activity, and even your access to healthy, affordable food.
Do Men Lose Weight Faster Than Women?
While it’s generally believed that men lose weight faster than women, this isn’t 100% true. Initially, men do seem to lose weight faster. In the long term, however, it doesn’t seem to matter as much.
The reason men seem to have a jumpstart on losing weight is that their bodies naturally have more lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass burns more calories, even when a person is resting.
How Quickly Can an Obese Person Lose Weight?
As a general rule, even overweight or obese people shouldn’t lose more than four pounds in a weekly period. Losing more weight than this can send the body into shock and there can be consequences like fatigue, lost muscle mass, and irritation.
Additionally, if you lose weight too fast or lose it by doing extreme dieting or workouts, it’s often not sustainable. This means that when you eventually go back to your old habits, the weight slowly comes back.
How Much Weight Can an Overweight Person Lose in a Month?
At a rate of 2-4 pounds per week, the most an overweight or obese person should lose in a month would be 8-16 pounds. While it might be possible to lose weight faster than this, it wouldn’t necessarily be safe.
Comparatively, the average person should only lose around .5-2 pounds per week. This means that they should safely lose weight at a rate of 2-8 pounds per month.
What Happens if You Lose Weight Too Fast When You’re Overweight?
Losing weight takes a lot of work regardless of whether you are just a few pounds overweight or obese. It also takes time to safely and sustainably lose weight, so it’s important that you don’t get discouraged if the pounds aren’t falling off as fast as you had hoped.
If you lose weight too fast, there are a lot of risks to your health. If you aren’t eating enough calories, your metabolism gets slower as your body responds to what it perceives as starvation. This can actually harm your weight loss efforts.
Additionally, if you aren’t eating, your body often loses muscle mass along with fat. This lost muscle mass and the fatigue that comes along with extreme dieting makes it impossible to be physically active and build muscles.
Your body also won’t get the nutrition that it needs to thrive. You might notice problems like hair loss or dry, brittle nails. Lack of nutrition also leads to poor digestion, worse immunity, and loss of bone density or strength.
In addition to all these consequences, losing weight too fast is often brought on by severely restricting your diet or extreme workout routines to achieve a calorie deficit. You won’t be able to build muscles without nutrition and extreme diets are impossible to maintain in the long run. The only way to safely and permanently lose weight is through sustainable lifestyle choices.
So, do bigger people lose weight faster than average-sized individuals? In most cases, yes.
Fat people lose weight faster because their workouts take more energy and their diets can be more effective if they are already eating a higher-calorie diet. Additionally, fat people are more likely to burn fat for energy when they have a calorie deficit, rather than burning muscle mass.
Hopefully, this has answered a lot of your questions about what exactly affects how much weight you are going to lose. It’s always better to lose weight in a slower, safer, and more sustainable way than to push your body to the extreme and risk the consequences associated with losing weight too fast.