How Long Does it Take To Get a Perfect Body? (Naturally)

Weight Loss & Diets | Written by Nathan Petitpas | Updated on 22 June 2022

A woman is performing a bicep curl while wondering how long it will take to get a perfect body.

Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of diet and exercise is that it allows us to naturally mold our bodies into their ideal shape. Gyms are packed all over the world with individuals trying to better themselves, but how long does it take to get a perfect body?

How Long Will it Take to Achieve a Perfect Body?

The concept of a perfect body will be unique to each individual. To some, shredded six-pack abs and bulging biceps define perfection, but to others, the perfect body may simply be one they feel confident and healthy in. The time it will take to achieve your ideal look will depend on what goals you’ve set for yourself, but it won’t require anything crazy like eating 500 calories a day for a month.

– How Long Does it Take to Burn Fat & Get a Perfect Bod?
Weight loss can begin to occur in as little as 1 week and aiming to lose 1-2 pounds per week is a healthy and sustainable goal to set [1]. 

Those that are overweight may see faster weight loss results at the beginning as they have more fat mass to burn. For those with higher starting weights, it’s possible to lose 8-10% of total body weight within 4 to 6 months [2]. 

While there has been controversy regarding weight loss that occurs quickly, research shows that individuals can sustainably transform from fat-to-fit fast as long as healthy lifestyle habits have been adopted. [2].

– How Long Does it Take to Get Fit & Tone?
In order to achieve a toned look it is essential to build lean muscle. With a proper strength training program and adequate diet, slight but noticeable changes in muscle size can be seen in as little as 3 weeks [3]. 

Keep in mind, building significant muscle to tone your body takes time. Professional bodybuilders, fitness models, and even the above average looking gym rat spend years training rigorously in the weight room while following muscle-promoting meal plans to achieve their look. 

Asking the question of how long does it take to get a perfect body for those trying to build muscle will likely have a longer timeline than those trying to lose weight. The reason for this is that it takes longer to build muscle than to lose fat. 

Weight training to become fit and toned is all about consistency, and as an individual becomes adapted to the gym, it becomes more difficult for them to continue gaining muscle [4].

How to Get a Perfect Body Body Fast

In order to get on the fast track to a dream body, one must align their lifestyle with their goals and have both diet and exercise in check. Or in other words, try to focus on moving more and eating less. 

To achieve weight loss, an individual must be in a calorie deficit, meaning they burn more calories than they eat each day. To burn one pound of fat, 3500 calories must be burned and this is why it’s often recommended to start in a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. 

At this rate, individuals can expect to burn around 1 pound of fat per week [5].

Not only is it important to develop an exercise routine to lose weight, but fitting in more daily movement in general will help shed excess calories. For those with sedentary jobs, do your best to incorporate simple daily habits like going on walks or using the stairs instead of elevators.

For those looking to build muscle, it’s essential to fuel the body in a calorie surplus and adequate protein. Not only will the extra calories provide energy in the gym to lift more weights, but muscle tissue requires nutrients to grow [6]. If unsure of how many calories to consume in order to be in a calorie surplus or calorie deficit, use an online total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) calculator to estimate how many calories your body is burning per day.

When routines are followed, it will allow for habits to be formed which leads to long term success. Research varies on the length of time it takes for humans to form habits, but there is a strong indication that those who consistently stick to behaviors for three months have substantially increased chances of habit formation [7].

Once the habit is formed, sticking to diet and exercise will take far less effort. While motivation is great to fuel the goal of achieving a perfect body, it will certainly dwindle from time to time. This is where the development of good habits will be critical as they can persuade one into doing the tasks even when motivation goes away [7].

Be Healthy & Build Habits for a Perfect Body

A woman eating healthy greens while sitting.

Implement the following to build better habits and shape a healthier version of yourself…

– Drink More Water

Water is essential for sustaining life and performing multiple physiological functions within the body. Our bodies are 55-65% water, and individuals that don’t drink enough will experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps [8].

Adequate fluid intake is even more essential when considering the fact the body will lose water while sweating during exercise.

To incorporate more water, start by getting a durable and reusable water bottle. Take it with you to sip on throughout the day and set a goal for the amount of water to drink each day.

Replace sugary beverages like juice and soda with water. Not only will this lead to better hydration, but it’s also a simple swap to lower daily caloric intake.

– Get Adequate Sleep

Sleep is a vital component of obtaining overall health and wellness. Not only will adequate sleep combat daytime fatigue and depression, but it’s also associated with lowering risks of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. [9]

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommends getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night [9].

For those that struggle to fall asleep, get into the habit of going to bed at the same time every night and avoid screen time at least 1-2 hours before laying down.

– Manage Stress

Keeping stress under control is sometimes easier said than done, but doing so will lead to better health both mentally and physically. Reducing stress will lower the risk of multiple disease states and keep the body feeling vitalized to perform at its best [10].

Those that exercise, eat healthy, and get adequate sleep are already doing themselves a favor to help lower stress. 

Other ways to manage life’s daily battles could include going on walks or hikes, practicing meditation, or cutting out people that negatively impact your life.

– Give Yourself Positive Reinforcement

Getting into shape takes hard work and dedication. There will be days when you’re tired of being fat and ask yourself “how long does it take to get a perfect body, and will I ever get there?”

To stay motivated and optimistic, be sure to celebrate milestones and reward yourself along the way.

In fitness culture, it’s common to reward oneself with a “cheat meal” after sticking to a strict diet plan for a satisfactory amount of time. While it’s certainly reasonable to indulge in your favorite foods from time to time, the way you choose to treat yourself doesn’t have to involve sacrificing progress.

Rewards could involve one going to their favorite places such as the beach or movie theater for completing 5 days of planned exercise in one week, or purchasing the shoes they’ve been wanting for averaging 8 hours of sleep for the month.

Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back from time to time. Positive reinforcement not only feels good, but it will make healthy behaviors more likely to be repeated [11].

– Meal Plan Ahead

Eating healthy will require cutting out fast and convenience foods in exchange for whole foods. While this is a great habit to get into, it certainly involves more time and effort in the kitchen. Between work, family, exercise, and other daily activities, life gets busy. Sometimes after a long day, cooking a meal is the last thing anybody wants to do which often leads to the consumption of fast food in the first place.

In order to avoid giving into junk food, meal plan for the week ahead. Designate one or two nights a week to cook food in bulk and then portion out meals to be stored in the fridge.

Incorporate a variety of foods into meals to get a wide array of nutrients into the body and also keep things from getting mundane. People often assume meal prepping means eating the same thing every day, but multiple options can be prepared at the same time. For example, use a large sheet tray to roast a variety of vegetables in the oven all at once.

One may also start up a freezer stash to help store food longer and have more options to rotate between.

– Make It Social

Finding a person or group of people that share the same fitness goals will help everyone to stay on track. Accountability partners provide motivation and support on days that the going gets tough, and they will be able to relate to each other through any trials and tribulations.

In addition, involving others into the fitness journey will allow individuals to share their successes with each other. This will feel extremely rewarding to get positive feedback from those that are involved in the journey and know the hard work that has been put in.

Diet & Transform Your Body Quick – From Chubby to Fit

Use the following food tips to transform you body in no time – from chubby to fit.

– Protein For Building Muscle

To achieve the perfect body whether via losing weight or building muscle, individuals need to make protein a priority in their diet plan. Protein is essential for building lean muscle. Foods high in protein include:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy Products
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds

In order to hit daily protein goals, try incorporating a good source of protein with every meal and snack. Research suggests that protein with each meal not only helps to build muscle, but it has weight loss benefits which include increasing metabolism and controlling hunger [12] [13].

It’s certainly possible to eat too much protein leading to an excess intake of calories and weight gain. To maximize muscle gain without overdoing it, research suggests consuming protein in the range of 1.6 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, or 0.7 to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight [14].

For those that are overweight or obese, use ideal body weight (IBW) to figure out protein goals instead of actual body weight. Ideal body weight for men and women can be calculated using these equations:

Men – 106 lbs. + 6 lbs/each inch over 5 feet

Women – 100 lbs. + 5 lbs./each inch over 5 feet

Using this formula, a man that is 5’5” would have an ideal body weight of 136 lbs., and a woman’s IBW would be 125 lbs.

– Choose Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are often victimized in today’s day and age, but the issues only arise when carbs are consumed in excess or of the wrong type. Eaten in the proper amounts, carbohydrates are essential for providing the body and brain with energy.

It’s important to note that there are two types of carbohydrates; simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are often found in processed and refined foods and beverages. Simple carbohydrates are more rapidly digested which causes high spikes in blood sugar and insulin [15]. Consumed in excess, this puts individuals at higher risk for diabetes and weight gain [15].

Foods with simple carbohydrates:

  • White bread
  • Candy
  • Soda
  • Pastries
  • Processed and prepackaged foods
  • Foods with white flour
  • Milk
  • Certain fruits and vegetables

While simple carbohydrates do naturally occur in milk and select fruits and vegetables, these foods provide important vitamins and minerals while also containing protein and fiber to slow down digestion and reduce the insulin response [16]. It’s foods with added sugars or that have been processed and stripped of nutrients that are more of a cause for concern.

Complex carbohydrates are not refined or processed and therefore maintain more of their nutritional quality, providing higher contents of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Complex carbs take longer to digest and therefore have less of an impact on elevating blood sugar and insulin release.

Foods with complex carbohydrates:

  • Whole grain bread, cereal and pasta
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Popcorn

– Focus on Fiber

Fiber is a form of complex carbohydrate that offers a variety of benefits including regulating bowel movements, lowering unhealthy cholesterol levels, and improving blood sugar control [17].

According to the USDA, the recommended fiber intake is 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. However, according to the national “What We Eat In America” survey, Americans generally only consume about 16 grams of fiber per day [18]

High fiber foods:

  • Whole grains
  • Fleshy fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds

Incorporate more complex carbohydrates while limiting simple carbohydrates to ensure the body is getting higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals while also getting adequate fiber. Make simple changes like choosing whole fruits instead of fruit juice and swapping out white flour grains for whole grain varieties.

– Fat is Not The Enemy

Contrary to its name and some outdated beliefs, eating fat will not make you fat. Intake of dietary fat is essential for producing a variety of hormones, helping to absorb vitamins, and contributing to development of the brain [19].

The Dietary Reference Intakes and World Health Organization recommend getting 20-35% of total calories from fat [20].

The reason that fat may get a bad wrap when it comes to weight loss is because it is the most calorie dense macronutrient. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram. Therefore, while fat is essential, it’s easier to overeat and cause excess calorie intake. Just like any nutrient, as long as fat is eaten in the proper portions, weight gain will not be an issue.

– Fill Your Plate With Fruits and Veggies

Increasing fruit and vegetable intake will provide multiple health benefits to help anyone reach their fitness goals, yet it’s estimated that about 80-90% of Americans do not consume their recommended servings [18].

Not only are fruits and vegetables low in calories, but they provide the body with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Increasing intake of these nutrient packed foods will regulate bowel movements, control hunger, and keep one feeling energized throughout the day [18].

The USDA recommends adults incorporate 2-4 cups of vegetables per day and 1.5-2.5 cups of fruits per day [18]. Aim to fit in a mixture of different fruits and vegetables to make sure the body is getting a variety of vitamins and minerals throughout the week [21]. The USDA has coined the phrase “eat the rainbow” as a way of portraying that eating fruits and vegetables of all different colors will lead to better health.

– Eliminate or Reduce Alcohol

How long does it take to get a perfect body if you drink alcohol? While having a couple of drinks to celebrate special occasions is perfectly normal, alcohol will not do any favors for helping you get in shape.

The USDA describes drinking in moderation as 2 drinks or less per day for men and 1 drink or less per day for women [18]. However, consuming 1-2 drinks per day will make it more difficult to stay within calorie goals as alcohol contains 7 calories per gram.

The typical beer contains about 150 calories per 12 oz, while a 1.5 oz shot is 100 calories [18]. Shots are often mixed with sodas and juices to make mixed drinks, adding extra sugar and calories. Not to mention, when alcohol is consumed it can lead to poor eating decisions being made later on. Let’s face it, it’s rare that somebody comes home after a night out and orders themselves a salad.

Do your best to avoid alcohol and when drinking does happen, limit it to a couple of drinks of light beer, low calorie seltzer, or mixed drinks with seltzer water or diet sodas.

Sample Meal Plan

Below is a sample meal plan from the USDA to demonstrate what a day of healthy eating may look like [18]. 

While this meal plan does a great job at demonstrating how to incorporate variety, keep in mind that this meal plan is not precisely tailored to exactly meet your unique individual needs. Not only does everyone have different fitness goals, but they also have different lifestyles, body types, metabolisms, and several other factors that will affect what they need to eat in order to achieve their perfect body.

It’s impossible to make a one size fits all meal plan, so use this as a guide to get started and make adjustments based on your needs and food preferences.

– Breakfast

Banana & Walnut Overnight Oats = 375 Calories

  • Oats (½ cup raw)
  • Low-fat, plain Greek yogurt (¼ cup)
  • Fat-free milk (¼ cup)
  • Banana (½ banana)
  • Walnuts (4 nuts)
  • Honey (1 tsp)
  • Coffee (25 calories):
  • Coffee (1 cup)
  • Fat-free milk (¼ c)

– Lunch

Chicken Burrito Bowl = 715 Calories

  • Brown rice (1 cup)
  • Romaine lettuce (½ cup)
  • Black beans, low sodium (cup)
  • Grilled chicken with spice rub (2 ounces)
  • Grilled vegetables (cup)
  • Sliced avocado (5 slices)
  • Fresh salsa or pico de gallo (¼ cup)
  • Reduced-fat cheese (cup)
  • Jalapeño (5 slices)
  • Iced Tea, No Sugar (16 ounces) (5 calories)

– Dinner

Oven-Roasted Tilapia, Vegetables and Pasta = 585 calories

  • Tilapia (4 ounces)
  • Broccoli (½ cup)
  • Carrots (cup)
  • Summer squash (cup)
  • Pasta (¾ cup cooked)
  • Garlic-herb oil (1 Tbsp)
  • Orange (1 medium) 
  • Water (8 ounces)


Miscellaneous Snacks Below = 460 Calories

  • Air-Popped Popcorn 
  • Yogurt and Peaches 
  • Plain, low-fat Greek yogurt 
  • Canned peaches packed in 100% juice 

Build a Dream Physique – Get Fit & Toned in No Time

A man is standing in the middle of a gym with a barbell beneath him.

For those looking to pack on muscle, resistance training should be the primary focus. Aim to hit the weights 4 to 5 times per week and vary the body parts that are trained. Perform 3-6 sets per exercise with short rest times (~60 seconds) in between, and vary repetitions from 8-12 per set. 

For increasing muscle size, a hypertrophy mass routine will work best. 

There are plenty of great workout routines online, find one that works best for your schedule and goals, and stick to it!

– High intensity interval training (HIIT) 

HIIT training is great for burning fat and building muscle simultaneously, especially when someone is under a time crunch. The workouts feature periods of exercise performed at maximum effort followed by brief recovery periods before maximum effort is resumed. These bouts of high intensity and low intensity exercise are alternated until a number of sets are completed or exhaustion is reached. HIIT workouts are extremely demanding and therefore don’t require hours in the gym to achieve the desired result.

– Cardiovascular Exercise

More commonly known as cardio, this includes exercise such as walking, biking, running, swimming, and more. These forms of movement have proven to be beneficial for burning fat, strengthening the heart, and reducing the risks of many disorders including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases [22].

A mixture of strength training and cardio is a great way to attack weight loss goals. A common mistake made by those looking to lose weight is ignoring the weight room and only performing cardiovascular exercise. 

Not only will resistance training burn calories directly, but building muscle actually allows for an individual to burn more calories throughout the day while at rest [23].

– Don’t Ignore Recovery

Sticking to an exercise routine will be essential to achieve the perfect body, but recovery outside of the gym will be just as important. Technically, muscle is not being built during exercise, it’s actually being torn down. We purposely damage our muscles through resistance training which causes microtears in the muscle fibers [24].

After the workout is complete, our bodies work to repair these muscle fibers which is what results in increases in muscle size.

In order for the muscles to be repaired optimally, it’s important to focus on the several aspects of recovery. Be sure to take rest days to allow muscles to recover and avoid injury.

Too much strenuous exercise may not only lead to injury, but it also reverses the protective cardiovascular benefits that exercise provides [25]. Additionally, overexercise may lead to chronically raised levels of the hormone cortisol which leads to higher levels of stress and anxiety [26][27].

– Prioritize Protein

While there are a variety of complex molecular processes that take place inside of muscle cells, muscle growth only occurs when the body is able to synthesize more protein than it is breaking down [6]. 

Protein is not only used for muscle building. The body is constantly using up protein to assist with immune function, produce hormones, and maintain hair, skin, and nails [28]. Getting adequate protein in the diet is critical to have enough protein available for muscles to repair and make sure they’re ready for the next gym session.

– Make Exercise Enjoyable

Exercise doesn’t need to take place in a gym-like setting. Mix it up and keep it fun by playing your favorite sport, taking dance classes, or engaging in adventurous activities like kayaking or hiking.

Reach for The Stars – Don’t Let Time Be a Deterrent

Achieving the perfect body is a lofty goal, but is certainly one worth shooting for. Bodies don’t take on their current shapes overnight or even in a few months. It’s unrealistic to expect to have the body you desire right away. 

However, the fact this won’t happen instantly is what makes going for the perfect body worthwhile. Those that embark on this journey face challenges and learn valuable lessons along the way. The routines and methods they follow on day one will look far different than their regimens on day 365 as their knowledge evolves and they keep getting stronger.

Don’t just focus the mind on “how long does it take to get a perfect body?” because long as progress is being made then the results will come in time. 


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About the Author

Nathan Petitpas

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.