When thinking about weight-loss, many people often have an “ideal” weight in mind, or a specific number on the scale they want to reach. It’s very common for people to think that unless they lose dozens of pounds, the weight they lose isn’t making a big difference.
This isn’t true. Studies show that even modest weight-loss, as little as 5-10% of your total body weight, can have significant health benefits. This means that a person weighing 200 pounds can see great improvements in their health from losing just 10-20 pounds.
There is scientific evidence showing that many obesity-related health conditions improve with just 5-10% weight-loss. Let’s look a little closer.
Health Benefits of Modest Weight-loss
Reduced Blood Pressure
Excess body weight accounts for about 25-30% of cases of high blood pressure, or hypertension. As body weight increases, it can cause problems with the flow of blood between and within organs and tissues. This can lead to higher blood pressure. By losing 5-10% of one’s body weight, both systolic and diastolic pressure decrease by 5 mm HG on average.
Although we have medications that decrease our LDL (bad) cholesterol, increasing HDL (good) cholesterol can feel very challenging. Modest weight-loss of just 5-10% can increase your HDL cholesterol by five points, lowering your risk of developing heart disease. It has also been shown to decrease triglycerides, which are fat-like particles in the blood that are harmful in elevated amounts, by an average of 40 mm/dl – a significant drop.
Improved Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder commonly diagnosed in people with excess weight who snore or gasp for air during sleep. It is caused by pauses and gaps in breathing that result in insufficient oxygen, often leading to fatigue and sleepiness during the day. When sleep apnea is severe, oxygen levels in the blood may be too low during sleep and require you to wear a breathing device called a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure). It has been shown that a 5-10% weight-loss can improve sleep apnea and improve quality of life by lessening your dependence on a breathing machine.
Diabetes and Insulin Resistance
Weight-loss of just 5-10% can decrease insulin levels in the blood and reverse conditions associated with diabetes. When a person has insulin resistance, their pancreas produces larger than normal amounts of a hormone called insulin. The extra insulin is needed because tissues are resistant to its effects. However, high insulin levels can cause problems associated with higher cholesterol, increased fat tissue, changes in hormones and more.
Research has shown that having additional fat cells, especially abdominal fat cells, produces a large number of substances that cause inflammation in blood vessels. The inflammation can result in plaque and clots which turn into strokes and heart attacks. After weight-loss of just 10% is achieved, the levels of inflammatory substances circulating in the blood start to drop significantly. This also reduces your risk of vascular damage.
Having a weight-loss goal can be tricky when you start focusing on numbers and sizes. Your ultimate goal should be to improve your health. Even modest weight-loss of just 5-10% of your total body weight can make a big difference in your health and quality of life. Consider these to be “non-scale victories” that you should celebrate and be very proud of!
For the full article on the benefits of 5-10% weight-loss, click here.