Weight loss in even small amounts, as little as 5% of your body weight, yields surprisingly large health benefits.

When thinking about weight loss, we often have an “ideal” body weight in mind or an ultimate weight loss goal. It’s very common for people to think that unless they lose dozens of pounds, they will not be any healthier. And because they aim for perfection and the weight comes off slowly, many people lose their resolve far short of reaching their weight loss goals.

One way to keep your weight loss journey going is to realize that the benefits of improved health occur with very little weight loss.


Studies have shown that health benefits resulting from weight loss are evident with a weight reduction as small as 5-10 percent. This means that a person who weighs 200 pounds will benefit greatly from losing just 10 to 20 pounds.


The Multitude of Health Benefits from a Small Weight Loss

There’s scientific evidence that many obesity-related conditions improve with a 5-10 percent weight loss. Let’s look at these related conditions and see how modest weight loss may greatly improve them and your overall quality of health:

Here’s a good compilation of the research on the health benefits from a small amount of weight loss from Obesity Action Coalition.



Although we have good medications that decrease our “bad” cholesterol also called LDL cholesterol, doctors and patients alike know how hard it is to increase the “good” cholesterol otherwise known as “HDL cholesterol” even by a few points.

A 5-10 percent weight loss can result in a five point increase in HDL cholesterol. Raising HDL by these few points can lower the risk of developing heart disease.



There are other fat-like particles in the blood that are harmful in elevated amounts. They are called triglycerides. People with high triglycerides are at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes among other problems.

Losing 5-10 percent of body weight decreases triglycerides by an average of 40 mg/dl, which is a significant drop.



Excess body weight accounts for about 25-30 percent of cases of hypertension. As body weight increases, it causes elevated blood pressure. By losing 5-10 percent of one’s weight, blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic, decrease by 5 mmHg on average.



One of the laboratory markers used to screen for diabetes and to monitor its treatment is called Hemoglobin A1C. The normal level should be below 6.5. A 5-10 percent weight loss can decrease this marker by half a point on average. This comes close to the effect that some anti-diabetic pills have on blood sugars.


Insulin Resistance

Another condition that is seen with weight gain is a phenomenon called insulin resistance. In this disorder, the pancreas produces larger than normal amounts of a hormone called insulin. Insulin is responsible for keeping blood sugar levels normal. Modest weight loss significantly decreases insulin levels.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder commonly diagnosed in patients affected by excess weight that snore or gasp for air during sleep. This causes fatigue and sleepiness during the day. It also is responsible for making certain diseases less responsive to treatment, like hypertension for example.
A modest weight loss of 5-10 percent improves sleep apnea and may allow you to wean yourself from your CPAP breathing machine.



In studies looking at the effect of excess weight on cells of the human body, it was found that fat cells and especially abdominal fat cells produce a large number of substances that result in inflammation in blood vessels. This inflammation then can result in plaques and clots and turn into strokes and heart attacks.

A 10 percent weight loss causes the levels of inflammatory substances circulating in the blood to drop significantly and reduce the risk of vascular damage.


Start with a Small Weight Loss Goal


All these improvements caused by weight loss as low as 5-10 percent ultimately lead to very significant benefits including a lesser chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
These research studies demonstrate that healthy lifestyle changes that include an appropriate healthy diet and the right exercise regimen will help attain a 5-10 percent weight loss.
When beginning a weight loss program, consider setting an initial goal of 5-10 percent of body weight. This seemingly small weight change will result in tremendous health benefits.

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