You can get many health benefits from losing pounds. But you don’t have to lose a ridiculous amount of pounds to see some amazing changes happen to your body—from your energy levels to your love life, or to your daily habits.
According to the NHS you have a higher risk of these bullet points if you are obese or overweight:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Some Types of Cancer
- Back Pain
So lets all just lose weight instead of gaining weight, shall we? Nonetheless here are some amazing changes that can happen to your body when you lose weight:
YOUR RISK OF CANCER DECREASES
Your weight impacts your immune system, hormones, and factors that regulate cell growth—all of which are tied to cancer risk.
That’s why being overweight or obese may increase your chances of getting the disease. “The relationship between cancer and weight is complex, and several different mechanisms are involved,” Dr. Webster says. “According to research from the American Cancer Society, excess body weight is thought to be responsible for about 8 percent of all cancers in the United States, as well as about 7 percent of all cancer deaths.”
YOU RELIEVE PRESSURE ON YOUR JOINTS
Experts agree that being overweight or obese increases your risk for osteoarthritis, or wear and tear on your joints. “The more weight that’s on a joint, the more likely it is to wear down and be damaged,” Dr. Webster says. “For example, for every pound of excess weight, four additional pounds of pressure is exerted on our knees—so if someone is carrying around 20 pounds of excess weight, that’s an additional 80 pounds of stress on the knees.” Losing extra weight reduces the amount of pressure on your joints and lowers the risk of arthritis development.
YOU REDUCE YOUR SLEEP APNEA RISK
Sleep apnea, in which you actually stop breathing during sleep, is linked with being overweight or obese. “Sleep apnea is caused, in part, when extra tissue accumulates around the upper airway, which can change its shape and make the throat more likely to collapse during sleep,” says sleep expert Richard Shane, PhD, creator of the Sleep Easily method.
In one study, 88 percent of people who lost 33 or more pounds were effectively cured.
According to Harvard Medical School, losing just 10 percent of your body weight can drastically reduce sleep apnea symptoms—and in some cases, weight loss can even cure the condition.
YOU LOWER DIABETES RISK
Losing weight can seem like an overwhelming undertaking, but even dropping just a few pounds can have a big impact on your overall health. “You get a large ‘bang for your buck’ with only a 5 percent weight loss,” says Samuel Klein, MD, professor of medicine and nutritional science, and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine.
For a 200-pound person, that’s just 10 pounds—but losing it takes a big strain off your body. Dr. Klein’s study shows one of the many boons is reduced diabetes risk, a condition marked by high blood sugar. “The beneficial effects include decreased total body fat, intra-abdominal fat, and liver fat and increased insulin sensitivity in liver, muscle, and fat tissues,” he says. Because the body requires insulin to absorb and use blood sugar, better insulin sensitivity means better blood sugar control.
YOU SLEEP BETTER IN GENERAL
In a vicious cycle, lack of sleep could be making you fatter. On the other hand, you’ll get better shut-eye with weight loss. “
In a study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, participants who had lost an average of 15 pounds show improvement in sleep quality,” Dr. Shane says. “In fact, a reduction in belly fat was the best predictor of improved sleep.” In addition, you’ll stop snoring as much—and snoring isn’t just an annoyance to your partner, but a mark of unhealthy sleep. “Snoring is in part caused by the amount of tissue around the neck,” Dr. Shane says. “When you lose weight, that reduces the amount of tissue in your neck, which can diminish snoring.”
YOU GET A MOOD BOOST
Because the physical is also tied to the psychological, your mental health will also enjoy lighter feelings once you lose weight. “Research shows that people who lost just 5 percent of body weight experienced an improvement in mood,” says nutritionist Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, author of Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches With Real Food, Real Fast. “And the positive changes in sleep caused by losing 5 percent are also tied to mood.”
Think about it: You’re grumpy when you don’t get enough sleep, right? Plus, if your weight-loss is tied to exercise, the endorphins can give you feel-good feelings. There’s also a connection between weight gain and depression.
YOU HAVE MORE ENERGY
Even if you start slow, each bit of weight you lose will give you more energy to keep going. “Just a 5 percent drop in weight can help lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure and improve sleep quality, all of which increase energy,” Sass says. Because your body isn’t working as hard, you’ll have more resources to perform more healthy activities. And in a positive cycle, that first bit of extra energy will make changes you’re making stop seeming like such a chore. “When you have more energy, you’re more likely to feel motivated to be active and make healthier choices,” Sass says.
Exercise itself has also been shown to boost energy levels.
YOUR FERTILITY IMPROVES
Losing a little bit of weight can help you conceive if you’re looking to have a baby. “Women with BMIs [body mass index, or ratio of height to weight] greater than 27 are at increased risk of abnormal periods and infertility,” says Jane van Dis, MD, chair of the Bakersfield Memorial obstetrics and gynecology department and medical director of business development for Ob Hospitalist Group. “Studies show women with elevated BMIs are at increased risk for insulin resistance, which can then lead to increased testosterone circulating in the body.” This can cause polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), in which ovulation doesn’t occur regularly. But losing just 10 to 15 pounds can help bring your periods back to normal.
YOU’LL GET A SELF-ESTEEM BOOST
How many times have you looked in the mirror and thought you’d be happier with what you saw if you were a little trimmer?
Although body positivity is important no matter what your weight, achieving a health goal can up your confidence. “A better mood [that comes with weight loss] often leads to a boost in self-esteem and feelings of empowerment,” Sass says. “Positivity breeds positivity.” Mayo Clinic suggests setting weight-loss goals that are achievable—such as dropping 5 percent of your current weight—to set yourself up for success.