It’s no wonder so many of us daydream about "ideal" body weight or spend much of our brain time thinking about our ultimate weight loss mission. According to the CDC, 7 in 10 Americans are obese or overweight. Next time you are out in a public spot, look around and take your own survey. How many slender people pop into view?
Since the numbers show that most of us are overweight, it stands to reason that most of us also want to look thinner than we are. We can well imagine how it would feel to gain the confidence that comes with fat loss, but Amanda MacMillan at Health.com looks to some additional benefits of losing weight that you may not have considered:
Energy levels will go through the roof
A big lift in your energy is usually the first thing noticed when the weight drops off. You won’t tire as easily or find yourself so quickly out of breath. Even just a few pounds less weight to carry around with you makes a noticeable difference.
Working out is much more fun
According to Adam Tsai, MD, a physician at Kaiser Permanente Colorado and a spokesperson for the Obesity Society,3 “Once you begin to slim down, exercise will feel less like a chore and more like the energizing experience that it should be.”
Sleep will improve
Researchers report that people who lost at least 5% of their body weight slept an average of 22 minutes longer than previously and that even modest weight loss significantly improved symptoms of sleep apnea. Dr. Tsai says. “Better sleep also helps your body burn fat more efficiently, so getting a good night's sleep means you'll be more likely to keep those pounds off.”
You could improve the likelihood of having a baby
Losing a few pounds may help if trying to get pregnant. A 2009 study published in Fertility and Sterility found that obesity in women is associated with infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome and that the younger a woman is when she becomes obese, the harder it could be for her to get pregnant. Slimming down will also help ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Your Memory May Improve
In a 2013 Swedish study, older women scored better on memory tests after six months of following a diet food plan. Brain scans showed more activity during the encoding process (when memories are formed) and less activity during memory retrieval, suggesting greater recall efficiency.
"The altered brain activity after weight loss suggests that the brain becomes more active while storing new memories and therefore needs fewer brain resources to recollect stored information," said study author Andreas Pettersson, MD.5
According to lead author Dr. Diana Kerwin, an assistant professor of medicine and a physician at Northwestern Medicine,6 research has linked obesity to poor memory, especially in pear-shaped women who carry extra pounds around their hips.
"Obesity is bad, but its effects are worse depending on where the fat is located."
Your Bones May Change
Extra weight can make your bones stronger (they must be to carry the extra pounds), but it also damages joints. Research suggests that visceral fat around the belly is particularly bad for bones. Losing weight can help, as well as reduce arthritis symptoms, according to a 2013 review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.7
You May Be Able to Reduce Your Meds
Maintaining a healthy weight can protect you against diabetes and heart disease. If you’re already experiencing these conditions, you may be able to reduce your symptoms and the amount of medication you take, says Dr. Tsai. Studies also show that losing weight may allow you to control chronic conditions like asthma and heartburn without (or with less) medication.
You Are Likely to Spend Less on Health Care
Normal-weight people spend less money on medical bills and expenses than their overweight peers, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Health Affairs. Specifically, researchers found obese people spent $1,429 more—that's 42% higher than their normal-weight peers, most of which went toward prescription medications needed to manage chronic conditions. Another report cites a massive 90% higher medical costs than individuals of healthy weight.8
Your Risk of Cancer Will Be Lower
“You know that smoking, sun exposure, and radiation can cause cancer, but obesity has been linked to several types of cancers as well," says Dr. Tsai. “Being overweight causes inflammation that triggers cell changes within the body.” Dangerous levels of inflammation can be lowered by losing just 5% of your body weight, according to a 2012 study on post-menopausal women published in the journal Cancer Research.
You Will Probably Feel Happier
“…I am much happier with myself [after weight loss]. All the clothes that didn’t fit now look great on me. Almased is the best thing that has ever happened to me! If it can work for me, it can work for you.” Elen A., a winner at weight-loss through Almased.9