The decision to prioritize weight loss, can be motivated by a number of factors, including concern over hereditary and chronic health risks, mobility, joint pain and overall aesthetic. We all want to look good and feel great, but achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight involves more than a short-term diet; it requires a shift to healthier lifestyle habits.
If you are currently on a weight loss journey, there are many benefits and positive changes that can occur, as you start to shed extra pounds. Here are six health ‘wins’ that start to occur in your body, in as little as 10 lbs of weight reduction, according to clinical studies.
1. Hormones Change (For The Better)
Did you know that every fat cell in your body, produces additional estrogen (in both men and women), which can lead to health complications? Excessive estrogen throws off the hormonal balance within the body, causing chronic fatigue, muscle loss, and lowered testosterone. For women, increased estrogen levels are linked to higher rates of breast cancer, endometrial cancer and fertility problems.
When weight loss occurs, fat cells decrease in size and they release less estrogen, helping the body to restore optimal hormone levels. When someone successfully loses weight and inches, they often comment that they feel like they have more energy, and a more cheerful and balanced mood. That is the impact of restoring healthy and balanced hormone levels.
2. The Immune System Improves
Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University, conducted a study that reduced the caloric intake by 10% to 30% per day, with a medical focus group. The researchers measured T-cell counts (white blood cells) before and after the reduction in daily calories consumed.
The participant results demonstrated a boost of 30% to 50% in T-cell’s and immune system response. The group who had reduced daily caloric intakes by 30%, experienced the greatest benefit and changes to immunological response. But all participants who lost weight, experienced an increase in T-cell count. When you lose weight, your immune system is strengthened.
3. Energy Levels Improve
Many people who begin to see results from thoughtful eating and regular exercise, report that they experience a surge in both a positive mood, and energy. Part of that is the gratification of successfully achieving weight loss (no matter how slow the progress), but there are also biochemical factors at work when we reduce weight, that has an impact on energy and mood.
Research conducted by the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), found that an 8% weight loss resulted in a reduction of triglycerides, and significant symptom improvement for individuals with anxiety and clinical depression. The study noted that a decline in glucose, improvement in insulin production and management, and increased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol were linked to both improvement in energy, and mood.
4. Food Starts to Taste Better
In 2014, Dr. John M. Morton at the Stanford University School of Medicine, conducted a study of 55 patients who had undergone bariatric surgery, and 33 individuals who were within healthy BMI or average weight ranges. He tested the participants’ ability to discern certain flavor profiles; sweet, bitter, sour, and salty.
The results from the clinical study, brought new insights and created a possible link between lower taste sensation, and over eating. Participants who were obese, had an impaired ability to detect flavors. However, individuals who had restored a healthy weight through the doctor supervised weight loss, reported that flavors were more pronounced, and food became more satisfying (even in smaller quantities).
It was an important revelation that may help provide cues to curb overeating for individuals who are struggling with weight loss. Does overeating happen because of feeling less satisfied with the food that is consumed, while prompting an involuntary need to snack and eat more? Many clinical studies support the suggestion that individuals who lose weight (and maintain a healthy BMI), are prompted to eat less, because they enjoy more flavors and satisfaction from the foods and beverages they consume.
5. Cholesterol Levels Drop
Much of what we read and hear about cholesterol is negative, but did you know it plays an important role in the overall health of your body? Cholesterol that is maintained at a healthy level, helps the body to produce essential hormones and vitamin D. It is also needed to help with the digestion process, absorption of vitamins and minerals, and it is essential to maintaining healthy cell membranes (protecting cells against free radicals, bacterial and viral infections).
But the problems start when cholesterol levels increase to unhealthy levels, that can predispose individuals to arterial and cardiovascular issues, like heart attack and stroke. During the phases of weight loss, cholesterol can increase, which can be discouraging, but the spike in cholesterol is only temporary, and part of the metabolic process. Burning fat means the release of more LDL cholesterol (the bad fat) into the blood stream. Over time this stabilizes and shifts to higher levels of HDL (good fat) and reduced LDL.
6. Inflammation is Reduced
Short term inflammation is your body’s natural way of healing and responding to injuries, and bacterial or viral infections. It’s a natural process that prompts the immune system to be on high-alert, to help address the health threat, and recover.
Long-term chronic inflammation however, is linked to significantly increased chronic health concerns including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome. Individuals who have metabolic disorders, experience high-blood pressure (hypertension), unregulated or high blood glucose (sugar), increased and abnormal cholesterol levels, and typically experience excess fat deposits around the waist and stomach area.
Clinical studies have reported that even a small level of weight loss (between 10-20 lbs) can decrease inflammation, by reducing the amount of proinflammatory proteins released into the blood stream, by fat cells. Less fat, fewer proinflammatories and the risk for health complications due to chronic inflammation is reduced.
Quick Tips for Weight Loss Success
It is never too soon, or too late to focus on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Before you start, here are three suggestions that can help you succeed in reaching your optimal body weight:
Don’t get discouraged by slow progress. Researchers agree that even a small amount of weight loss that is sustained over a period, offers many marked health benefits. Each pound down on the way to a healthy body weight, is step in the right direction for improved health.