For many people who struggle with weight, embarking on a weight-loss journey can feel overwhelming. You’ve been there, right? Sitting in your physician’s office with cold hands, you hear the words “let’s talk about your weight.” Your physician has just opened a can of worms as you brain starts to move in different directions.
Maybe you have an “ideal” number in mind, or you’re aiming to alleviate any health conditions associated with your weight. It’s a lot of information to digest. However, studies have shown that health benefits resulting from weight-loss are evident with as low as a 5-10 percent weight reduction. That doesn’t seem like a lot… so what does that mean?
How Does 5-10 Percent Weight-loss Help?
Decreased Insulin Levels
Weight gain is often associated with insulin resistance, where the pancreas produces larger than normal amounts of insulin. This can lead to more fat tissue, poor cholesterol and hormone changes. Modest weight-loss can significantly lower insulin levels and reverse these conditions.
Reduced Risk for Diabetes
By losing just 5-10 percent of your body weight, you can greatly reduce your risk for diabetes or improve your levels of Hemoglobin (one of the markers used to screen for diabetes). Your blood sugar levels can also improve dramatically.
Reduced Effects from Sleep Apnea
Weight gain can result in sleep apnea if an individual doesn’t get enough oxygen during sleep. As a result, snoring or large gasps of breath may occur. Modest weight-loss of 5-10 percent can begin fighting sleep apnea for good and decrease feelings of fatigue or sleepiness.
Improved Blood Pressure
Modest weight-loss can have tremendous effects on blood pressure and hypertension, especially when combined with a diet low in salt that is rich with produce and low-fat dairy. With even 5-10 percent weight-loss, blood pressure can decrease by 5 mmHg on average.
Fat cells, especially abdominal fat cells, can produce a large number of substances which result in inflamed blood vessels. Consequences may include plaque, blood blots and problems with heart attacks or strokes. Just 10 percent weight-loss can drop levels of inflammatory substances in the blood and reduce your risk for vascular damage.
The Bigger Picture
Here’s the bottom line: if you’re trying to improve your health by lowering your weight, don’t be intimidated by the journey in front of you. With even modest weight-loss, you can improve your quality of life and help your body run more efficiently. Slow and steady is okay!