Get Big Benefits From a Small Weight Loss

Get Big Benefits From a Small Weight Loss

Some small changes can have a big payoff. That’s true when it comes to losing weight. If you're carrying extra weight, dropping even 5 percent of your weight can be good for your health.

That level of weight loss can help lower your risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, says the Mayo Clinicleaving site icon Depending on your weight, losing 5 percent of your current weight is a realistic goal.

Why Should You Lose Weight?

The benefits of losing weight go well beyond appearance. It will improve your health and quality of life.

You might notice that you feel better after losing a few pounds. You may have more energy. And other changes are happening inside your body. A lot of good can come from just a 5 percent weight loss.

Help Your Joints
Just 10 extra pounds add 30 to 60 pounds of extra pressure on your knees and other lower body joints. Losing even a little weight can ease some pressure. If you keep the weight off, you’re less likely to get osteoarthritis or other joint issues later in life. And if you already have osteoarthritis, losing just 10 pounds and keeping it off can reduce the progression of the disease by 50 percent.

Prevent or Put Off Diabetes
Weight loss and exercise are ways you can try to prevent or delay getting diabetes. If you already have diabetes, losing weight helps in other ways. It can help you keep control of your blood sugar and take less medication. It can also cut the chances that diabetes will cause other health problems.

Lower Your Blood Pressure
Extra weight means your blood pushes harder against your artery walls, and that makes your heart work harder. Trimming 5 percent of your weight can lower your blood pressure. Cutting your salt intake can help, too. 

Reduce Inflammation
Tissues all over the body can be inflamed by chemicals released by fat cells, especially those found in the belly. Inflammation is linked to a range of serious health problems like arthritis, heart disease and stroke.

Tips for Losing

Make a realistic plan and start with small changes. Look at what you eat and how much physical activity you get. Improving those habits can be a key to weight loss.

Plan for Success

  • Set realistic goals. Plan to do it slowly, over time. Try for a pound a week.
  • Add 10 minutes of activity to your day. Even some physical activity is better than none. You can add more as you go.
  • Ask your doctor for help.

Eat to Lose
On the food front, the old standards are true.

  • Aim to eat at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits each day.
  • Choose whole grains, not refined grains.
  • Add small amounts of healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and nut butters and oils.
  • Cut back on sugar. Natural sugar in fruit is OK.
  • Pick low-fat dairy. Eat lean meat and poultry in limited amounts.
  • Watch your portions and skip second helpings. You can still have foods you like if you have them in moderation.
  • Choose healthier versions of your favorite foods. Look for ones with fewer calories and less added sugar and salt.

Once you get started, strive to keep going. Lose more if you need to, or build on your weight loss by adding other healthy habits. People who do see improvements in physical health, energy levels, physical mobility, general mood and self-confidence, says the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionleaving site icon 

Sources: Weight loss: 6 strategies for success, leaving site icon Mayo Clinic, 2021; What a 5% Weight Loss Can Do for Your Health, leaving site icon WebMD, 2023; Here’s Why Losing Weight Is the Key to Losing Joint Pain, leaving site icon Cleveland Clinic, 2020; Losing Weight, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023; Aim for a Healthy Weight, leaving site icon, 2023; Losing Weight, leaving site icon American Heart Association

Originally published 9/29/2021; Revised 2023