How long does it take to lose weight? What is a realistic weight loss rate and can you speed it up?

How long does it take to lose weight? In the age of instant gratification and dubious marketing claims, it may be difficult to have realistic expectations. Not to mention that when you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, and your health seems to be getting worse, you may be tempted to set yourself an ambitious weight loss goal. 

This is understandable. A big target number may make you feel more motivated and eager to start your transformation. But excessive weight loss can not only lead to the dreaded ‘yo-yo effect’ (where you lose weight, only to put it back on), it can also be unhealthy. What’s more, some people will find it way more difficult to shed unwanted pounds than others. So what is a realistic weight loss rate? And what factors can affect it?