You don’t have to slim down to your high school size to get real health benefits.
Losing just a few pounds makes a big difference.
5% of your body weight — 10 pounds for a 200-pound person
can improve all kinds of health problems, and make you feel better, too.
Talk to your doctor about whether it might help you.
Ease Up on Joints
Just 10 extra pounds add 40 pounds of pressure on your knees and other lower body joints.
That can wear them out quicker.
Extra fat can also cause inflammation — when chemicals in your body damage your own tissues over time,
including your joints.
Losing even a little weight can ease these effects. If you keep it off,
you’re much less likely to get arthritis later in life.
Cut Your Chances of Cancer
One study showed that older women who lost at least 5% of their body weight lowered their chances of breast cancer by 12%.
There’s no such clear proof that losing weight protects you from other types,
but some changes that happen when you shed pounds hint that it might.
For example, overweight people who slim down have lower levels of some hormones linked to cancer,
like estrogens, insulin, and androgens.
Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
If you’re more likely to get the condition, weight loss is one of two ways to prevent or delay it. T
he other is moderate exercise –
30 minutes on 5 days a week. If you weigh 160 pounds, you could lose just 8-12 of them to get the benefit.
If you already have diabetes, losing that weight can help you take less medication,
keep control of your blood sugar,
and lower the odds that the condition will cause other health problems.
A “Good” Cholesterol Bump
You can lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol with healthier food and medications.
But it’s harder to raise levels of the “good” kind of cholesterol,
HDL. That’s the type that clears bad LDL from your blood, so the more you have, the better.
Exercise and losing body fat can get you into the ideal HDL range: above 60 mg/dl,
which lowers your odds of having heart disease.
Bring Down Triglycerides
They’re particles in your body that transport fat for storage and energy.
High levels (more than 200 mg/dl) mean you’re more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
You can get closer to healthy levels (around 150 mg/dl) if you slim down a little.
Ease High Blood Pressure
Extra body weight makes your blood push harder against your artery walls. That makes your heart work harder, too.
You can lower the pressure by about 5 points if you trim 5% from that number on the scale.
Cut your salt and eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy, and you may lower it even more.
Stop Sleep Apnea
People who are overweight gain extra tissue in the back of their throat. When your body relaxes when you sleep,
that tissue can drop down and block your airway.
It makes you stop breathing over and over all night, which causes all kinds of health problems,
especially for your heart. Slimming down a little can often help with sleep apnea –
sometimes enough that you can stop using the bulky breathing devices that treat it.
Reverse Insulin Resistance
Body fat, especially in your belly area, gives off chemicals that make your body stop reacting to the effects of insulin,
a hormone that keeps the level of sugar in your blood normal. Even though your pancreas works harder to make more insulin,
your blood sugar can get too high. A little bit of weight loss can help reverse this effect.
Sleep Longer and Better
Some studies have shown that not getting enough ZZZs can make you more likely to be obese.
Others show that losing at least 5% of excess weight can lead to better sleep.
But don’t overdo it. Sleeping too much isn’t good for your weight or your health.
A Better Mood
Weight loss may help chase your blues away. Scientists are still trying to work out why,
but better body image and improved sleep may be part of the reason.
In one study, depressed people who were very overweight felt better after they lost an average of 8% of their body weight.
Other research shows you’ll continue to feel better, even after 2 years — as long as you keep the weight off.
Bring Down Inflammation
Fat cells, especially those around the belly, can release chemicals that irritate and inflame tissues all over the body.
This is linked to health problems like arthritis, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Work toward a 10% weight loss goal, and you can lower the amount of these substances
and cut your chances of having a serious illness.
Have More Sex
When you’re overweight, you typically have less sex. It might be because you just don’t feel good about your body
But it also may be that you have less desire and that even when you’re in the mood, your body doesn’t respond as well.
Shed a few pounds and you’ll not only feel better about yourself, you may be in the mood more often, too.
Lose the Weight: Diet
There’s no one perfect diet to help you slim down, but there are some basic rules.
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Keep your protein lean and unprocessed:
Choose meats trimmed of fat, and eat seafood, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Replace refined grains like white bread and white rice with whole grains like multigrain bread, brown rice, and oatmeal.
Special weight loss surgery may be an option if you are seriously overweight.
Lose the Weight: Exercise
You should be getting 30 minutes of moderate activity — a bike ride or brisk walk — on at least 5 days a week simply to stay in good health.
To lose weight and keep it off, you may need more than that. Also include moves to strengthen your muscles,
like pushups or light weight training. Check with your doctor about the healthiest ways for you to work out,
especially if you haven’t done it in a while.