The Benefits of Weight Loss (and Reasons to Continue Losing Weight)
By: Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN
We all have our own reasons as to why we want to lose weight. Maybe you want to lose weight to “live longer” or “feel better.” While these are valid motivators for weight loss, they lack specificity, which may make it hard to use them as motivation when you hit a plateau in your weight loss program.
In this article, we will lay out several specific benefits of weight loss that you may not have thought about. As you go through your weight loss program, refer back to this list in order to keep you motivated.
10 Benefits of Weight Loss
Luckily, weight loss can yield benefits that improve your health both inside and out! What’s even better is that losing as little as 5-10% of your current weight can yield benefits. So, whether you are just starting your weight loss journey or you are well into it, some (if not all) of these benefits may be coming your way.
Benefit #1: Decreased Risk of Chronic Disease
If your doctor has urged you to lose weight, keep in mind that they are most likely doing so in good faith. While you may have been initially alarmed (or even upset) by your doctor’s recommendations, keep in mind that there are decades of research which points to obesity and a higher risk of chronic disease. Whether you currently have a chronic disease or you do not, it is important to know that being overweight or obese can increase your risk for the following conditions:
- Coronary heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Certain cancers (i.e. breast, colon, kidney, liver)
- Mental illness (i.e. anxiety, depression)
- All-cause mortality
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. The conditions listed above can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Luckily, however, there are things you can do to decrease your risk of these conditions. Weight loss is one approach! There is lots of research to show that healthy weight loss can decrease your risk of chronic disease.
Benefit #2: Less Chronic Inflammation
You may have heard about the “dangers of inflammation” and how it can increase your risk of disease. But what is inflammation? Inflammation is clinically measured by the amount of cytokines and C-reactive protein (CRP) circulating in your system (1). Cytokines and CRP spark pro-inflammatory responses in the body, which can increase your risk of disease.
How does inflammation relate to weight loss? Research shows that excess fat tissue can cause an increase in cytokines and CRP to circulate in the system, resulting in chronic inflammation. This chronic inflammation can prevent your body from keeping you healthy, potentially leading to disease (2). Weight loss has been shown to reduce pro-inflammatory markers, thus reducing chronic inflammation.
Benefit #3: Potential for Less Joint Pain
Are you annoyed and/or limited by achy joints? Being at a lower weight can decrease the load and stress that are put on your hips, knees, ankles and spine, leading to less pain. Furthermore, aside from losing weight, the exercises that you do for weight loss can help strengthen your joints and muscles as well. A win-win! Even though some people do have compromised joints (regardless of their weight), many people can give themselves a leg up by losing weight to lighten the load on the joints.
Benefit #4: Better Blood Pressure Control
If you don’t know if your blood pressure is under control, then go get checked by your doctor. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a silent but dangerous condition that increases your risk for stroke, heart attack and vision loss to name a few. According to the American Heart Association, losing as little as 5-10 pounds can lower your blood pressure. So, this may be a benefit that occurs early on in your weight loss program, which is great!
Before you start exercising, however, here’s a word of caution: High blood pressure is not something that should go untreated. In fact, having high blood pressure can affect how you can exercise safely. So, ask your doctor to review your exercise recommendations.
Benefit #5: Improved Blood Sugar Control
Do you have type 2 diabetes or have been told you may be heading towards it? Weight loss can help you manage diabetes more effectively, especially if you have been newly diagnosed. For those who have prediabetes or whose doctor has discussed the risk of diabetes, weight loss may be beneficial for you too. Although weight loss may not directly impact diabetes, some research shows that weight loss may help your body better control blood sugar levels. Controlling your blood sugar is essential for diabetes management.
Benefit #6: Improved Cholesterol Outcomes
Weight loss can also yield better blood cholesterol numbers, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Blood cholesterol is primarily affected by how much saturated fat is consumed in your diet as well as if you get enough healthy fats. For more information about a healthy diet, check out our post about the 5 basic rules of healthy eating. Aside from diet, however, those who are overweight may see improvement of blood cholesterol with a small amount of weight loss.
Benefit #7: Improved Ability to do Activities
In the most extreme cases of obesity, people tend to lose the ability to move around and take care of themselves. However, even being modestly overweight can have real impacts on your ability to do daily activities. Couple this with old age or aching joints and simple tasks like walking to the mailbox or cleaning the house may be extremely hard.
Even though there may be a variety of reasons why someone is having trouble with activities of daily living, weight loss may be one factor that can open up possibilities for someone. So, if you want to be able to take your dog for a walk or run around with your children or grandchildren, let this motivate you to lose weight!
Benefit #8: Potential for Enhanced Self-Esteem
Not everyone, but some people feel better about themselves when they are working towards a healthier weight. While weight loss will not solve all of the problems in your life, it may make you more confident in yourself to go after other goals. Your best weight is one that is both healthy and satisfying to you! No one should have to feel guilty about making improvements towards the person they want to be.
Benefit #9: Exercises Your Ability to Set a Goal and Stick to It
Aside from the other benefits of weight loss, the practice of setting personal health and fitness goals (and working towards them) can help you practice discipline, determination, accountability and ambition. You can use these goal oriented skills in many other aspects of your life such as work, family and finances.
Meeting goals is a learned skill that must be practiced over and over. That being said, there will be ups and downs in your weight loss journey. However, it is your determination to learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself and move on (or restart) that is the key to success.
Benefit #10: Emphasizes the Importance of Health
We oftentimes put off doing things for ourselves, but we are more than willing to do anything for the ones we love. Even though weight loss should ultimately be about “doing it for yourself,” sometimes you may need an extra boost of motivation. If you have children, grandchildren, friends, peers or even coworkers, your journey can be an example to others. Beyond losing weight, taking time to emphasize the importance of health is something that others notice (and may even value). Prioritizing health is a value that you can instill in your family or amongst your friends.
Are you in a Weight Loss Slump?
Weight loss plateaus and lack of motivation will happen to everyone – that’s just part of the journey! The next time you find yourself really dreading going to the gym or staring longingly at your coworker’s French fries, take a few minutes and reread the list above. Remind yourself of all the benefits of weight loss, aside from reaching your goal weight and “looking better.” Doing so may be just what you need to check yourself and refine your energy into moving forward again.