Few accomplishments are as life-changing as losing weight. Healthy long-term weight loss doesn’t result from a temporary fad diet or a few sporadic workouts, but rather from a deep-rooted commitment to changing your lifestyle. This commitment includes proper nutrition and regular exercise.
The benefits of losing weight sustainably are many, and they are overwhelmingly positive.
Read more: Interested in what you need to know to lose weight? Here’s advice on Weight Loss for Beginners
Immediate Benefits of Losing Weight
In the turbo-charged pace of today’s world, most of us demand instant results, which is completely understandable even if somewhat unrealistic. There are in fact immediate benefits of losing weight, and as we’ll soon discuss, losing a small percentage of your body weight reduces many health risks that may occur in those with metabolically unhealthy obesity<sup>1</sup>.
Instant Feedback with Signos
A tool like Signos provides instant feedback on your glucose metabolism, including the foods you eat, the exercise you do, the sleep you get, and more. Signos reads your glucose data from a continuous glucose monitor, which is displayed in the Signos app. When you log what you do—foods, hydration, sleep—you can see in real-time how your glucose responds to those things.
When you eat, glucose goes up and comes back down because of a response from insulin. We burn fat in between eating occasions. When our glucose is stable, glucagon (a hormone) activates hormone sensitive lipase that triggers fat to be broken down into individual fatty acids that can be burned for fuel.
“If we are monitoring our glucose, we can see when our glucose levels are stabilizing or getting lower and we can capitalize on that,” says Thomas DeLauer, celebrity influencer, trainer, author, and Signos scientific advisory board member. “Normally when you have a dip in glucose, you want to eat. But if you understand that you’re just having a dip right now and you don’t act on this, you can burn some fat. Or, you can go for a walk and stabilize your glucose to get everything regular again and burn some more fuel as a result.”
When we can see our real-time glucose data, we can do a lot more with it to help us use the fuel we eat, burn fat when we don’t eat, and learn the optimal times to eat certain types of food.
Long-term Benefits of Losing Weight
If you get discouraged while on your weight loss journey, try to keep the many long-term benefits of losing weight in mind. These benefits include decreased body fat; decreased levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and leptin; a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes; and improved insulin sensitivity<sup>2</sup>. Since all of these benefits contribute to living a longer, more active life, your older self will thank you!
Read more: As complicated as weight loss seems, Glucose Tracking Can Change How We Think About Weight Loss
Unexpected Benefits of Losing Weight
Obesity and mental health are interconnected<sup>3, 5</sup>. The physical benefits of weight loss are discussed often, but reducing your risk of mental health issues is easily one of the most unexpected benefits of losing weight.
One study of over 9,000 U.S. adults shows a reciprocal association between obesity and psychiatric disorders. It concludes that adults struggling with obesity have a higher risk of developing serious depression compared to those without a weight problem<sup>3</sup>. Depression for some is also associated with gaining weight, likely in part due to many psychiatric medicines contributing to weight gain<sup>4</sup>.
Another study of over 17,000 adults shows the association between obesity and a higher risk of mental disorders in women, including major depression, panic disorder, anxiety disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The same study shows the association between obesity and generalized anxiety in men<sup>5</sup>.
Percentage of Body Weight Lost: Does it Matter?
Losing weight can feel impossible at times, especially when first starting out. The good news is you don’t have to lose anywhere near as much as you might think to begin experiencing the benefits of losing weight. The following weight-loss percentages show how the percentage of body weight lost does matter<sup>6</sup>.
- 5 percent: According to Dr. Fatima Stanford, who serves as an obesity medicine physician, losing 5 percent of your total body weight should be the initial goal<sup>7</sup>. In other words, if you weigh 200 pounds, try getting down to 190 instead.
- 10 percent: According to John Hopkins Medicine, losing 5–10 percent of total body weight lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 58 percent<sup>8</sup>. Five percent is a terrific goal initially, then doubling this objective to hit 10 percent is even more beneficial.
- 15 percent and higher: Once you make changes to your daily eating and exercise, the pounds may start coming off rather quickly at first, but will slow down eventually.
Maintaining 15% weight loss with diet and exercise alone can be a challenge, spawning debate over whether slow weight loss or quick weight loss is better for keeping weight off long term. In one study, losing weight rapidly was not proven less healthy than dropping the pounds slowly<sup>9</sup>, yet in another, slow weight loss was associated with greater decrease in fat mass and improved the metabolic profile in the individuals observed<sup>10</sup>. Slower weight loss of about 1-1.5 pounds a week is advocated at Signos.
Read more: Interested in managing your blood sugar better? Learn all about a Low-Glycemic Diet
Weight Loss Differences Between Men and Women
The medical benefits of losing weight are extensive for both men and women. Most benefits aren’t gender-exclusive either, but there are differences in weight loss between men and women.
Read more: Physical activity remains pivotal to improving health, regardless of gender. Here are 14 Health Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise
Some Men May Not Realize They’re Overweight
A comprehensive dive into weight loss tendencies among men and women shows that men don’t view themselves as overweight as frequently as women do<sup>11</sup>. To effectively have men discover the many benefits of losing weight, getting them to understand that they’re metabolically unhealthy is the first step.
Women May Have a Harder Time Losing Weight
Women’s bodies generally carry a higher percentage of body fat compared to men<sup>12</sup>. Women also carry less muscle than the opposite sex which is another reason sustainable weight loss can be such a challenge. Both of these factors influence the female metabolic rate to function at a lower pace and burn fewer calories than men while at rest<sup>13</sup>. Women can still achieve success in getting down to their desired healthful weights but may have a harder time losing the weight sustainably due to their genders.
- Over half of all women in the U.S. are working toward losing weight. See The Science Behind Weight Loss for Women
- Learn how to lose weight after giving birth and what to expect.
Sustainable Weight Loss: Top 11 Expected and Unexpected Benefits
Everyone who drops weight wants to keep that weight off, making the weight loss sustainable. Sustainable weight loss has numerous benefits, many of which are obvious and some that might surprise you.
1. Enjoy Having More Energy
Droves of men and women claim they can’t work out due to a lack of energy. The solution to this conundrum is counter-intuitive because regular exercise can boost your energy levels rather than deplete them. As the pounds continue to melt off thanks to proper nutrition, you’ll realize more and more every day that the physical benefits of losing weight are real<sup>14</sup>.
2. Improve Sleep
Have you ever wondered why people who are overweight can develop sleep apnea? Obesity results in excess neck mass that restricts the flow of air in and out of your mouth. Reducing this mass improves airflow and breathing while you are asleep. This is why losing weight is likely to improve your sleep on a regular basis<sup>15</sup>.
3. Reduce Stress
Chronic stress takes a brutal toll on your immune system<sup>16</sup>, and sneaky sugars are a prime culprit of anxiety<sup>17</sup>. Foods that are high in saturated fatty acids—unlike unprocessed whole foods and unsaturated fats—can ramp up biological stress levels</sup>18, 19</sup>. Nutrition aside, the increased level of sleep you may get as you lose weight is another prime factor in reducing stress.
<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn about </strong><a href="/blog/how-to-manage-stress">natural ways to manage stress</a></p>
4. Achieve a Better Sex Life
Let’s be honest: this one is a little self-explanatory on its surface. Adults frequently cite bodily exhaustion as one of the top reasons for reduced sexual activity and/or performance. Enhancing your energy levels will boost testosterone and estrogen to get those male and female sex hormones in working order. Daily workouts even ramp up the blood flow to the pelvis. Above all, weight loss is key to a healthier libido since lugging around too much body weight can contribute to sexual dysfunction<sup>20</sup> for both men and women. If you want better sex, losing weight is one way to make it happen.
5. Make Your Skin Glow
Okay, losing weight won’t literally make your skin glow like Dr. Manhattan, but it may add a brightness to your complexion. For generations, Native Americans have championed partaking in a “sweat” to rid themselves of evil and generate renewal. Turns out, modern science actually backs this practice up. When you sweat during exercise (allowing that you properly wash yourself afterwards), your pores get rid of built-up dirt and other toxins. The intake of nutrients from fruits and veggies can contribute to clearer skin and a shinier head of hair<sup>21</sup>.
6. Save Money
Indulging once or twice a week in an unexpected dinner or happy hour can be good for the soul, and it’s definitely possible to maintain fitness while integrating cheat meals. If you’re on a sustainable weight loss plan, you’ll likely cut back on calories from sweetened cocktails, too much takeout, and other unnecessary sugars. Your weight loss plan may help you save money too—and not just on your grocery bill or bar tab. One 2017 John Hopkins study estimated someone who makes the transformation from obesity to an average weight can save $28,020 in out-of-pocket medical costs over the course of their lifetime<sup>22</sup>.
7. Improve Confidence
The way you feel inside is what matters most, but for many, that starts with a positive body image. One of the biggest perks directly related to weight loss is improved self-esteem, body image, health related quality of life, and decreased depressive symptoms<sup>23</sup>.
8. Easier Bowel Movements
Spending too much time on the toilet? Research shows there’s a link between obesity and chronic diarrhea<sup>24</sup>. Integrating more high-fiber foods into your everyday diet assists in more than a slimmer waistline; fiber will also help solidify your stools<sup>25</sup>. Incorporate foods rich in fiber such as these prebiotic and probiotic foods. You’ll appreciate having quicker, easier bowel movements—and a more diverse gut microbiome—as a result.
Read more: Is there a connection between the makeup of your gut and weight loss?
9. Enhance Joint Performance
One common reason to avoid working out: lifting weights and performing strenuous movements (such as power walking or running) can be too hard on the joints. The right amount of weightlifting (don’t forget about eating the right amount of high-protein foods as well) and cardio with proper technique combats arthritis and eases joint pain<sup>26</sup>.
10. Renew Mental Health
Who doesn’t want to fight memory loss, depression, dementia, and countless other mental woes that attack us as we age? Food-derived signals may play a crucial role in cognitive functions, including your emotions<sup>27</sup>. Eating a nutrient-dense diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods may sharpen your mind and help get rid of brain fog.
11. Prevent Diabetes
Obesity has been repeatedly linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease<sup>28</sup> as well as type 2 diabetes. If you’re pre-diabetic and worried about what might follow, remember that weight loss significantly decreases the chances of this metabolic disorder<sup>29</sup>. Men and women who are just starting out only need to lose between 5–10 percent of their total body weight to slash away at the probability of risk<sup>30</sup>.
Putting “Sustainable” in Sustainable Weight Loss
No one wants to lose weight and then gain it all right back. These sustainable weight loss benefits offer the potential for a longer life span and a higher quality of life.
As soon as you determine what a healthy amount of weight is for you to lose, you can optimize your weight loss plan—and, eventually your weight loss maintenance—by monitoring your glucose response via a CGM and the Signos app.
Learn more about blood sugar:
- Benefits of stable blood sugar
- How to avoid blood sugar spikes
- How to lower blood sugar fast spikes
- Workouts to lower blood sugar spikes fast
- Foods to help stabilize blood sugar
- Workouts to help stabilize blood sugar