by David Greenwalt
You weigh 200 pounds and wonder if losing 10 pounds can make a significant and positive difference in your health? It can!
This study, a randomized controlled trial, looked at 40 obese men and women and compared losing 5%, 10% and 15% of starting weight. The more they lost the more improvements in metabolic health they found. But even 5 percent weight loss was sufficient to reduce multiple risk factors for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
“These results demonstrate you get a large bang for your buck with a 5% weight loss,” says senior study author Samuel Klein of Washington University School of Medicine. “It is much easier to achieve a 5% weight loss than it is to achieve a 10% weight loss, so it is important to understand the health benefits that occur with a 5% weight loss and what additional benefits can be expected with more weight loss in people with obesity,” Klein says.
40 obese individuals were assigned to either maintain their body weight or go on a low-calorie diet to lose 5%, 10%, or 15% of their body weight.
An important finding was the impact on insulin resistance with just a 5% weight reduction.
All of the subjects showed signs of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance (IR) is a pathological condition in which cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin. The body produces insulin. When the body produces insulin under conditions of insulin resistance, the cells in the body are resistant to the insulin and are unable to use it as effectively, leading to high blood sugar. Beta cells in the pancreas subsequently increase their production of insulin, further contributing to a high blood insulin level. This often remains undetected and can contribute to a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes or latent autoimmune diabetes of adults.
Among the 19 individuals who lost 5% of their body weight, beta cell function improved significantly, as did insulin sensitivity in fat tissue, liver, and skeletal muscle. Meanwhile, the nine participants who achieved additional weight loss showed further improvements in beta cell function and insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue.
“Taken together, the findings show that 5% weight loss is sufficient to improve health outcomes, with additional weight loss further decreasing risk factors for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases,” Klein says.
This research is encouraging. It’s also re-enforcing of other data indicating even modest losses of excess weight can have important health benefits in a variety of ways. The authors want you to take reasonable steps to watch what you eat and increase physical activity. I want you to take those steps and every healthy means necessary, fair and unfair, to shed your unhealthy extra weight. If it’s healthy but a bit radical? I say let’s do it.
Journal Reference: Magkos et al. Effects of Moderate and Subsequent Progressive Weight Loss on Metabolic Function and Adipose Tissue Biology in Humans with Obesity. Cell Metabolism, February 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.02.005