Losing just 5% of body weight maybe seen as a small feat but it actually has significant health impacts
A new study has revealed that shedding just five percent of body weight does a lot. It’s enough to decrease total body fat, visceral fat (the dangerous kind that hugs organs), and liver fat. It can also lower blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity, according to a study published inCell Metabolism.
“All together this can also mean a lower risk of type 2 diabetes,” study authors say.
“Our results show that you get a large ‘bang for your buck’ with a five percent weight loss. But an additional 10 to 15 percent weight loss continues to cause even more improvements in measures like blood lipids and blood pressure,” says study co-author Samuel Klein, MD, director at the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine.
Klein and his research team at Washington University School of Medicine recruited 40 obese patients and assigned them to either maintain their weight or go on a diet to lose 5 percent, 10 percent, or 15 percent of their body weight. Each patient’s organs, body fat content, and hormones were measured before, during, and after the study.
“If you weigh 200 lbs., you will be doing yourself a favor if you can lose 10 pounds and keep it off,” Klein concluded. “You don’t have to lose 50 pounds to get important health benefits.”
The 19 participants who lost only 5 percent of their weight experienced improvement in how their body stored and released insulin, which is key for regulating sugar levels in the blood, along with a decrease in total body fat and fat in the liver, which lowers the chance of becoming diabetic and developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. And compared to the nine patients who were assigned to lose 15 percent of their body weight, there wasn’t a big difference in benefits. Their bodies improved how they processed insulin in muscle tissue, helping the body to convert sugar to energy, however they were still unable to properly process sugar through the liver and did not lose any more liver fat.
“Continued weight loss is good, but not all organ systems respond the same way,” Klein said. “Muscle tissue responds much more to continued weight loss, but liver and adipose tissue have pretty much achieved their maximum benefit at 5 percent weight loss.”
However, losing 5 percent of body weight may not have the same benefits in all obese people. None of the patients were diabetic, despite obesity being the greatest risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes. The bodies of people who are overweight and obese have trouble regulating insulin, which is a hormone that helps to control blood sugar levels, ultimately leading to dangerous spikes and lows in sugar levels. According to Klein, the study needs to expand to reach obese patients with Type 2 diabetes in order to have a thorough understanding of how weight loss improves the health of all obese patients.
“We don’t know whether people with diabetes will have the same response to this type of progressive weight loss,” Klein said, “so it will be important in the future to repeat this type of study in people who have type 2 diabetes.”