There are many good reasons to lose weight. Appearance, self-confidence, or an upcoming big event are all great reasons. But today, let’s talk about health. What happens in your body if you start by losing a few pounds, like 5% of your weight? For people between 180 and 300 pounds, that’s 10-15 pounds of weight loss.
According to studies cited by the National Institutes of Health, obesity is a risk factor for many serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, osteoarthritis, and other issues. Being overweight can affect a number of systems in the body including the pancreas, liver, hormones, muscle, fat, and other tissues.
According to the NIH, people who lost a minimum of 5% of their starting weight saw decreased body fat — most importantly abdominal fat and fat in the liver. They had decreased levels of blood sugar (glucose), insulin, circulating fat (triglycerides), and hunger-modulating hormones (leptin). These markers are all known risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. They also showed improvement in other factors related to type-2 diabetes (such as improved function of insulin-secreting β cells in the pancreas, and the ability of fat, liver, and muscle tissue to respond to insulin).
The good news
Studies such as the one the NIH cited show that these reductions in risk factors appear starting at a 5% weight loss. And the even better news is: you don’t have to crash diet or lose weight rapidly to realize these benefits. In fact, losing weight too quickly can cause a host of other problems. Losing up to 1% of your bodyweight per week (e.g.: 2 pounds per week for a 200-lb person) is a good healthy target. Even losing 1 pound per week, or 2 pounds per month, will get you to your goal.
How do you compare?
Less than one third of American adults are considered a healthy weight today. More than one-third (35.7%) of adults are obese, and more than two-thirds (68.8%) of adults are overweight or obese. And one-third (33.2%) of American children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are overweight or obese. This can not only affect quality of life, but also quality of health.
If you are among one of these risk groups, why not try to lose 10-15 pounds and see how you feel? This is something many people accomplish in 5-10 weeks. Once you reach your 5% goal, you may find it was so easy you choose to lose more!