The Benefits of 5% Weight Loss

Losing weight is hard. If it wasn’t, then the concepts of dieting and exercise would simply disappear overnight! As it is, people all over are trying to find the right tricks to help them hit their weight loss goals.

But what many people do not consider is that you do not need to completely reach your goal weight in order to start feeling better and be healthier. Particularly if you are just starting your weight loss journey, a smaller, more manageable weight loss goal – aside from being less psychologically overwhelming — is enough to bring many health benefits. In fact, losing as little as just 5% of your body weight can improve your quality of life in a variety of ways:

More energy

Having less weight to carry means you consume less energy during everyday life. With lower weight also comes better oxygen efficiency, meaning you can do more without getting exhausted.

Less joint pain

Every 10 extra pounds of body weight can translate to 40 pounds of pressure being applied to the joints in your lower body as you move about your day. By losing just 5% of weight, you can lessen this joint pressure substantially, reducing your day-to-day leg and back pain and cutting your risk of arthritis later in life.

Exercise will be more fun

With the boost of energy and reduced joint pain that comes from 5% weight loss, you will immediately feel faster and stronger. Whether you exercise at home or at the gym, this will make the act a lot more enjoyable!

Improved memory

In one study, memory performance was shown to improve after modest weight loss. Through memory testing and scanning of brain activity, researchers determined that after losing a little bit of weight, brain activity increased during memory encoding, the process through which new memories are formed. They also observed that fewer resources were needed in the regions of the brain responsible for recalling old memories. This means that memories could be retrieved faster and more efficiently.

Better sleep

Sleep apnea is often caused by fat deposits near the upper airways that impede your breathing while you sleep. Snoring and choking in your sleep, dryness in the mouth and throat, and fatigue during the day all result from this condition, but can start to be relieved with just 5% weight loss. In fact, users of CPAP breathing machines can even start to be weaned off this treatment with just this relatively small amount of weight loss.

Even if you do not have sleep apnea, 5% weight loss has been demonstrated to improve overall sleep quality.

Fewer migraines

Carrying extra weight increases your risk of migraines. The link is not totally clear, but the American Migraine Foundation found that people with a BMI over 40 are 275% more likely to experience a migraine than those who are under this number. For those who are walking the line, 5% weight loss can mean the difference between a normal day and a day spent in bed fighting a crippling migraine.

Spend less money on medication

Overweight people spend 42% more on healthcare costs, mostly toward medications needed to treat chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes. Slimming down can reduce the amount of medications you need or eliminate them altogether.

Lower risk of cancer

Some of the hormones that are linked to various types of cancer – such as estrogens, androgens, and insulin – can be reduced in the body with modest weight loss. In one study, women who lost 5% of weight lowered their breast cancer risk by 12%.

Being overweight also causes inflammation, which triggers changes in your cells that heighten cancer risk. 5% weight loss can lower inflammation down from dangerous levels.

Improved heart health

5%-10% weight loss has been shown to boost “good” cholesterol (HDL cholesterol), decrease triglycerides (particles in your bloodstream that transport fat for energy and storage), and reduce blood pressure. Combined, these effects are enough to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Reduce diabetes risk

Studies have shown that those who lost 5% of their weight were more likely to experience a drop in hemoglobin A1C levels similar to the effect of some anti-diabetes medications. For many, this is enough to move out of the “prediabetes” range and reduce their type 2 diabetes risk by as much as 58%. For those who already have type 2 diabetes, 5% weight loss can reduce prescription medication dosage, give better control of blood sugar levels, and lower the risk of developing other health issues.