What are the benefits of losing weight? Does weight loss only have physical benefits or does it go further and improve your general health? We have compiled the latest research and commentary from health experts in this article, so keep on reading.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Losing Weight?
Here are some health benefits of losing weight that you may experience during and after shedding those extra pounds:
1. You Will Sleep Better
According to a two year study posted online in 2014, losing as little as 5 percent of your weight can result in better and longer sleep hours. The participants recorded gaining an extra 21.6 minutes of sleep every night (12).
2. May Help Improve Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal imbalance affects men and women in different ways. Women may experience heavy, irregular, or painful periods, vaginal dryness, increased hair growth on the face, neck, chest, or back, infertility, and more. As for men, they may experience reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, reduced muscle mass, reduced body hair growth, breast tenderness, and more. Losing and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the solutions given to help reduce the likelihood and symptoms of hormonal imbalances (16).
3. Improved Sex Drive And Life
Erectile dysfunction is a problem that affects many overweight men, heavier women on the hand, find it hard to get/stay aroused or lubricated during/before sex (2). It should be noted that they may also experience self esteem issues which can make them shy away from intercourse.
4. Reduced Heartburn
According to Harvard Medical School, the extra fat around your stomach tends to put extra pressure on it which causes the stomach acid to reflux up into the esophagus and leading to heartburn. Losing weight relieves the extra pressure, taking care of the heartburn issue (14).
5. Relieves Joint Pain, Especially In The Knees
The heavier you are, the more weight you place on your knees. It is said that for each pound you weigh, you place about 4 pounds of stress on each knee (14). Losing the excess will not only take the weight and stress of the knees but it will make walking less of an effort.
6. Improved Immunity
An Australian study done in 2010 revealed that weight loss has incredible benefits to the immune system. According to the study, excess body fat triggers the production of ‘pro-inflammatory’ immune cells and macrophages, which can damage our bodies. After 24 weeks, the results showed that weight loss had caused an 80 percent reduction of pro-inflammatory T-helper cells, as well as reduced activation of other circulating immune cells (T cells, monocytes and neutrophils) and decreased activation of macrophages in fat (10).
7. Improved Memory
According to a 2013 study, losing weight alters brain activity, leading to improved memory performance (18).
8. Reduces Blood Pressure And Risk Of Cardiovascular Illnesses
It is said that each pound of weight lost results in a one-point drop in both the upper (systolic) and lower (diastolic) numbers in your blood pressure measurement. High blood pressure raises your risk of heart attack and stroke and makes you more likely to develop and succumb to heart failure.
9. Reduced Risk Of And Better Management Of Diabetes
For persons suffering from type I diabetes, losing weight reduces your risk of diabetes related complications and could mean injecting less insulin. As for those suffering from type II diabetes, losing around 15kg could put you into diabetes (17). If you are not sick, you can prevent diabetes by shedding those extra pounds and maintaining a healthy weight.
What Are The Benefits Of Losing Weight Slowly?
More often than not, we desire to lose weight and see results very quickly, and that is why many people fall for weight loss gimmicks that promise to help you lose 5 pounds in 5 days, 10 pounds in 2 weeks or even 30 pounds in 30 days.
However, fast weight loss is very dangerous to you. Here are some reasons why slow weight loss is better than fast weight loss (11).
1. It Is Safer For Your Health
While losing weight fast may seem like an attractive option, it comes with some side effects such as headaches, mood swings, fatigue, dizziness, muscle and hair loss, constipation, and menstrual irregularities in women. In worse cases, rapid weight loss leaves you at the risk of dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, and painful gallstones (9).
2. Weight Loss Is Easier To Maintain
Unlike rapid weight loss, slow weight loss usually involves better eating habits and physical exercise. These are behaviours that you build over time and become ingrained in you that you automatically do them. However, rapid weight loss is achieved with some very hard and restrictive methods that are not sustainable in the long run. Eventually, you will stop using said methods and all your weight will come back again.
3. Prevents Loose Skin
Loose skin is often a side-effect of huge weight loss, smoking, age, sun exposure and more. While weight loss can cause loose skin, it can be accelerated by shedding those extra pounds too fast as you are not giving your skin enough time to fix its elasticity and catch up with your smaller mass.
4. Prevents Muscle Loss
Rapid weight loss is often a result of water and muscle loss and not fat loss as most of us desire. When you lose weight slowly and by using the correct methods, you ensure that you are keeping your muscles and actually burning fat.
What Are The Social Benefits Of Losing Weight?
While we tend to concentrate more on the health benefits of losing weight, many of us often start shedding these extra pounds due to the pressure to conform to societal beauty standards. While your main goal for weight loss should revolve around fitting into a certain societal mold, here are some social benefits that may stem from weight loss:
You Become More Outgoing
Overweight and obese people often find it hard to keep up with their lighter counter parts. I.e., if people want to do a more physically active activity, you are more likely to be left out because you often feel out of breath and tired. After you have lost weight, you will have more energy and stamina, which will make physical group activities easier and more fun to participate in, which in turn makes you more outgoing.
Will Boost Your Confidence
One sad side effect of gaining weight is a loss in confidence. While this does not affect everyone, some people lose their self-esteem when they gain weight. They start wearing oversized clothes to hide their bodies, cover their faces to hide that they have rounder cheeks, or even say no to meeting friends because they do not want to receive comments about their weight. While we do not advocate for losing weight to make other people happy or stop negative comments, if you have felt that your weight gain has chipped away at your self-esteem, losing weight can help you gain more confidence in yourself and your body.
More Sex Drive
Weight gain can affect your sex drive as you may no longer feel desirable with the extra weight that you have gained. Losing the extra pounds can help you feel more sexy which will increase your sex drive. A 2019 review on the effects of weight on sexual function, found out that overweight men a lesser sex life while the overweight women experienced lower desire and arousal (3). A 1996 study of testosterone levels in men found that that the heavier participants had the testosterone levels of men nearly a full decade older than them (4). Testosterone is the major sex hormone in men and is crucial for sexual and reproductive function as well as regulating sex drive.
More Sexual Satisfaction
According to a 2012 study on the effects of obesity on the quality of sex life, obese people are 25 times more likely to report dissatisfaction during sex. If you have been wondering about the benefits of losing 10 percent of body weight, the same study showed that losing this exact percentage of weight can increase your chances of satisfaction during this activity (7).
You May Find It Easier To Get A Raise At Work
A sad, unfair but true fact is that most overweight people (but especially women) often find that they are earning less than their slimmer counterparts. A 2004 paper found that overweight women in the United States earn 9 percent less than their slimmer co-workers (13). Another more recent study by the professional cite LinkedIn also found out that obese and overweight people in the UK, earned on average £1,940 ($2,512) less per year than those with healthy BMIs. The same study also found that women were more affected by this than men of the same weight (8).
You May Find It Easier To Land A Job Or A Promotion
According to a 2016 study, factors of attractiveness such as weight, height, and body mass index (BMI), play a big role in whether you have a higher chance in getting a job in an interview (1). As we have seen above, one of the social benefits of losing weight is that you many get a raise at work. This also affects your chances of scaling the corporate ladder because, sadly many bosses have been shown to be prejudiced against heavier employees (20).
Is Losing 5% Of Weight Enough For Health Benefits?
Yes, it is. If you are afraid that you have to lose a large amount of weight to see some health benefits, the good news is that starting small, by losing at least 5% of your body weight will result in health improvements.
These health benefits of losing weight include (15):
Less Pain In Your Joints
Heavier people often find it hard to walk, jog, or run because the extra weight they are carrying around strains the muscles in their lower body. Losing 5 percent of your body weight will help ease this pain.
Reduced Risk Of Breast Cancer
It has been stated that shedding this percentage of weight can help lower the risk of breast cancer by up to 12%.
Help Prevent Diabetes
Losing weight improves the blood sugar levels in the body which can help prevent type II diabetes. On the other hand, those already suffering from the illness will notice that they require less medication to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
Improves Cholesterol Levels
One of the benefits of losing weight, even just 5% of body weight is that it helps increase good ‘HDL’ cholesterol levels in the body while simultaneously reducing bad cholesterol levels.
Reduces Triglycerides Levels
It makes you less susceptible to heart attack or stroke.
Other benefits of losing 5 percent of your body mass include a better sex life, improved mood and social life, and reduced blood pressure among others.
What Are The Benefits Of Losing 10% Of Your Body Weight?
According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention, the benefits of losing 5% of your body weight are the same as those of 10% of your overall mass. An important fact to note, however, if that the more weight you lose the more the health benefits. I.e., the person who loses 10% of their weight will experience a higher rate of the same benefits that the one who only loses 5%.
You will feel less pain in your joints, you will further reduce your risk of breast cancer and other types of cancer, your body will be able to better control your blood sugar levels which means a lesser risk of cancer.
What Are The Benefits Of Overweight People Losing 10% Of Their Body Weight?
Other than the above-mentioned health benefits of weight loss, overweight people who lose 10% of their body weight may experience the following benefits:
Improved Confidence And Body Image
When your clothes start feeling better, you may feel more confident about yourself.
Improved Stamina And Energy
When you lose 10% of your body weight, you will find it easier to do those tasks that used to make you feel tired easily. You will find it easier to run around with your toddler, go on that walk/hike with your friends or partner, etc.
More Active Social Life
Sometimes overweight and obese people will push away their friends because of their weight. Losing weight will help boost your confidence, making it easier for you to get out there, meet up with old friends and even make new ones.
Improved Sex Life
The more attractive you feel, the more confident you are in and out of the bedroom, a quality that makes you attractive, not only to yourself, but also to your partners. Increased weight has been linked to issues such as erectile dysfunction, anxiety in the bedroom and poor sexual performance in men(5). On the other hand, heavier women may risk poor circulation in the genital area which may hinder arousal. They may experience poor body image and decreased lubrication, desire, and sexual satisfaction (3).
A 2009 study showed that weight loss helped improve moods in depressed people (19). Three years later in 2012, another study showed that people who exercised and lost weight experienced less anxiety, anger-hostility, fatigue-inertia and confusion-bewilderment (6).
If you are wondering what are the benefits of losing 20 percent of body weight or what are the health benefits of losing 25% of your body weight, the answer remains the same as stated above. The more weight you the higher the benefits. Someone who loses 5% of their body weight will sleep better, but probably not as well as the one who loses 20 to 25 percent of their body weight.
The Bottom Line
While many people often associate weight loss with the physical benefits, it goes much further and deeper than what changes take place physically. Weight loss improves your health and gives you a longer, better lifespan. We hope that the above social and health benefits of weight loss have motivated you to get off the couch and take steps to shed any extra pounds that may be hindering your health and lifestyle.