How long on a diet before you conclude you are NOT losing weight?

I understand that a long-term loss of a pound a week is considered typical for a healthy weight loss plan. So you might average about 4-5 pounds a month. My problem is that I can easily gain or lose five pounds just by how much water I retain, what time of day I weigh myself, etc. So how long should I give a diet a try before I conclude that either I’m not losing weight, or I’m not losing fast enough? How do I set a benchmark weighing for accurate comparison?

I think that it completely depends on what your goals are and how you’re changing your habits to meet them.

Last year, I started following the South Beach diet. I had done all of the reading and understood that I was more embarking on a new way of eating than a “diet”.

I did the first phase, which is often a period of rapid weight loss for people, and I lost nothing. After 2 weeks, I started adding whole grains and fruit, and I still lost nothing. It took about 7 weeks before I even lost a damn pound.

I stuck with it, though, for a few simple reasons:
[li]Doing things my way had gotten me to about 20 pounds overweight[/li][li]The science behind it is sound—lots of vegetables, lean protein, whole grains rather than refined ones, lowfat dairy[/li][li]I seemed to look slimmer even when I wasn’t losing weight[/li][li]I felt a whole lot better. Fewer energy crashes, more even-keeled, etc[/li][/ol]

So, again, it depends on what you’re trying, how, and why. I would advise against making hasty decisions that something isn’t working, but I also advise against drastic weight loss plans in the first place.

3 months is a good term, long enough to see for certain if it is actually due to the lifestyle change or just excess water and short enough psychologically to not feel deprived. You should lose at least 5 lbs of nonwater weight by that point in time.

If you’re going to be exercising too, you need to be very aware that you might be slimming down even if the scale doesn’t move. I lost 12 pounds three years ago and I lost a couple inches off my waist before I lost any weight because I was building muscle. Had I gone just by the scale, I would have given up because I had no “results” weight-wise for more than three weeks.

I read some advice recently to weigh yourself at the same time every day and look at the average weight for the week.

Also, it might make sense to do the math in terms of what you weigh now, your activity level, and how many calories you are taking in on the diet. There are online calorie requirements calculators and sites with the calories in various foods. This will double check that you are in fact creating a 3,500 calorie deficit every week, if you plan to lose a pound a week.

This, plus, plot it on a chart - you can see the trend that way, even if individual days go up and down.

3 months.

Thank you, I’m out of here!