5 Major Benefits of Losing Just 5 Percent of Your Weight

Article posted in: Lifestyle

You’ve heard it said many times: Every little bit helps.

Nothing could be truer when it comes to weight loss. Losing even just five percent of your weight (if you clock in at 200 pounds, that’s just 10 pounds) may not get you into that little black dress or the belt you wore in high school, but it can pay off big time when it comes to your health. Here’s how:

1. It can help prevent fatty liver disease.

A 2014 study by researchers at the Washington University Center for Human Nutrition found that paring off just a little bit of weight helped some of the 20 obese participants lose body fat and fat in their livers. Fatty liver disease, an epidemic in the U.S. because of rising obesity rates, can be serious. It can cause irreversible damage to the liver similar to a condition that happens in alcoholics, says the Mayo Clinic.
Some of the study participants went on to lose more weight, but the loss of total body fat and reduction of fat in the liver reached its peak after a five percent weight loss.

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2. It can help your heart.

Studies have found that losing five to 10 percent of your body weight can increase levels of good HDL cholesterol by five points, which can lower the risk of heart attack, says Nadia B. Pietrzykowska, MD, writing for the Obesity Action Coalition. It can also shave levels of another dangerous blood fat called triglycerides, by an average of 40 mg/dl. In many studies, losing a modest amount of weight also drops blood pressure by an average of five mmHg, which, depending on where you start, can decrease or even eliminate the need for blood pressure drugs. A 2011 study headed by the leading researchers of the National Weight Control Registry—which looks at lifestyle factors in people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off—found that losing even more weight (only about five to 10 percent more), produced even bigger benefits in cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar. But the researchers noted improvements in all those factors even in those who lost just two percent.

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3. It can stave off diabetes.

Dropping five to 10 percent of your body weight can have the same effect on your blood sugar as diabetes medications—it can help decrease levels of hemoglobin A1C, a diabetes marker, by half a point. It can also help reduce insulin resistance, another diabetes risk factor, in which the body’s tissues no longer respond effectively to insulin, which helps keep blood sugar normal.

4. It curbs inflammation.

Inflammation is a vital part of your body’s immune response—as long as it shuts itself off once the wound or injury is healed. Chronic inflammation, which can be caused by repeated injury to your cardiovascular system by blood fats that accumulate and harden on the walls of your arteries, can lead to a variety of ailments, including heart attack, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. At 10 percent of your body weight, inflammation drops precipitously, as does the damage to your body.

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5. You’ll get a better night’s sleep.

Obesity is linked to obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which you stop breathing many times a night and wake up (though you may not know it) gasping for breath. Chronic sleep apnea can lead to heart problems and, if you have it, you may need to use a pretty cumbersome machine at night that keeps you breathing. A five to 10 percent weight loss can lessen the severity of sleep apnea and in some cases, even eliminate it.
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