Losing weight can improve your self-esteem and reduce any insecurities you may have about your body. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be confident in yourself even if you are overweight. You also shouldn’t fall into the trap of believing that a smaller body will make you happier.
That said, losing weight is beneficial for your overall health and longevity. Other reasons you may want to lose weight that have nothing to do with your appearance are:
- Lower risk of diseases
- Improved immune system
- Reduced joint pain
- Everyday tasks are easier
- Increased life expectancy
- Better sleep
- More energy
- Improved memory
- Better breathing
- Reduced need for medications
- Improved fertility
In this article, I’ll dive into these benefits in more detail and discuss some scientific research that backs them up. I’ll also discuss tips for maintaining weight loss so you can stay healthy in the long term.
If you’re looking for an exercise program to help you lose weight, check out the Fitbod app. It will customize a routine for you that can help you get stronger and boost your weight loss efforts. Give Fitbod a try with three free workouts.
11 Reasons to Lose Weight
1. Lower Risk of Diseases
Obesity and being overweight are linked with health concerns like type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, high cholesterol, and hypertension. But you can reduce your risk of developing these conditions by losing weight.
A recent study from the UK showed that individuals who lost at least 10% of their total body weight and managed to keep it off reduced their risks of chronic diseases by up to 41%.
Another study showed that weight loss of 16% of total body weight can reduce the amount of fat in the liver by up to 65%. In turn, this can reduce the risk of liver damage.
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2. Improved Immune System
Losing weight doesn’t just decrease your risk of developing chronic conditions. It can also improve your body’s immune system and make it easier for you to fight minor infections like colds.
Researchers believe obesity promotes more inflammation in the body, weakening the immune system and making it harder to fight various illnesses.
However, they also discovered that even minor weight losses of 5lbs can help lower inflammation and, thus, the amount of stress placed on the immune system.
3. Reduced Joint Pain
The more you weigh, the more stress you place on your joints as you go about your everyday life. This places extra wear and tear on your knees, hips, and ankles. In fact, for every 5kgs (~10lbs) you gain, you increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis by 36%.
Inflammation is also common in overweight individuals and can lead to other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Losing weight can help with issues like this. Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University discovered that a weight loss of 10% can be enough to improve joint pain in individuals with osteoarthritis.
Other studies show that overweight patients with rheumatoid arthritis can reduce their symptoms by losing weight (at least 10kgs or roughly 20lbs) more than patients who do not lose any weight.
4. Everyday Tasks Are Easier
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. When you lose weight and experience less joint pain, everyday tasks become much easier.
You can walk around without your knees or lower back becoming achy and open tightly-closed jars more easily. And when you have less weight to carry around, you can walk up and down stairs or chase after your kids without getting winded.
Studies show that middle-aged women who lose weight experience less perceived pain, less fatigue, and improved physical functions. This suggests that weight loss can improve your quality of life by allowing you to be more independent, especially as you get older.
5. Increased Life Expectancy
Research has shown that people who are overweight or obese have lower life expectancies than individuals who have healthy weights. Much of this is because being obese is linked to diseases and other health conditions, as I mentioned earlier.
Several studies back this up, and researchers have discovered a connection between obesity and premature death due to complications affecting the body’s major organs.
Fortunately, you don’t have to lose a significant amount of weight to improve your life expectancy. One study that followed obese adults over 10 years found that those who dropped from obese to overweight on the body mass index (BMI) scale were more likely to live longer than those who remained obese.
6. Better Sleep
Being overweight or obese is linked to conditions like sleep apnea, which is when you stop breathing while sleeping. It leads to poor-quality sleep that leaves you tired even if you were asleep for hours.
But you don’t have to have sleep apnea to suffer from bad sleep if you’re overweight. Being overweight is often a byproduct of eating too many calories, which may come from an overconsumption of sugary, fatty foods. These foods can negatively affect your sleep quality.
However, research shows that reductions in body weight of 9% are enough to decrease instances of sleep apnea.
Furthermore, some studies suggest that diets focused on nutritious foods like high-quality seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, fruits, and whole grains, which are generally thought to help you lose weight, can also help you sleep better.
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7. More Energy
There’s another reason besides being able to sleep better that losing weight has positive effects on your energy levels.
Having more weight to carry around means you expend more energy throughout the day, making you more tired. However, when you lose weight, you use less energy to get through your day and don’t tire out as quickly.
Some studies also suggest that increased fatigue in obese individuals is due to higher instances of depression, and being overly tired is a common symptom of depression. Since losing weight can ease depression symptoms, it can also help improve your energy levels.
8. Improved Memory
One lesser-known benefit of losing weight is improved memory because obesity can cause dysfunction of the parts of the brain associated with memory.
A study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology tested the memories of adults with BMIs of 18 to 51. The adults with higher BMIs did not perform as well as those with lower BMIs.
However, losing weight has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function in adults. Researchers attribute this to positive changes in brain activity in the parts of the brain responsible for recognition and memory retrieval.
9. Better Breathing
Individuals who are overweight or obese are more likely to have decreased lung volumes, meaning their lungs aren’t able to hold as much air. When this happens, they may frequently experience shortness of breath, wheezing, or chest pain.
However, researchers from the University of Alberta discovered that adults with a lower BMI tend to have better lung capacity. This suggests that losing weight can make breathing easier, whether you’re working out or just doing a simple chore around the house.
10. Reduced Need for Medications
As discussed earlier, people who are overweight are more likely to suffer from conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Unfortunately, it’s common for doctors to prescribe medications instead of advising patients to make lifestyle changes to treat these issues.
The US is also notorious for bombarding people with ads for prescription medications to treat such conditions. As such, some believe that medication is the only answer for their ailments.
However, it is possible to reverse these conditions by losing weight through exercise and a healthy diet. One study showed that weight loss of just 5% can result in reductions or discontinuation of blood pressure medication in individuals with high blood pressure.
That said, if you are on any medication for one of the conditions above, you should still consult a physician before stopping it. Some medications require a gradual reduction in dosage before stopping them completely. Otherwise, you may experience withdrawal symptoms or other dangerous side effects like dizziness.
11. Improved Fertility
For women, losing weight has been shown to increase fertility and increase their chances of getting pregnant. It can also reduce the chances of miscarriage and pregnancy complications.
One of the main reasons for this is hormonal imbalances that can cause reproductive disorders, including irregular menstrual cycles.
However, a review of 11 studies showed that weight loss increased pregnancy rates through natural and assisted methods (such as IVF). In women who used assisted methods, it took fewer cycles for them to get pregnant. Many of the women in the analyzed studies also had fewer instances of miscarriage.
Related Article: Best Fat Loss Workout Plan For Females (COMPLETE GUIDE)
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Tips for Maintaining Weight Loss
As you saw from some of the studies discussed above, maintaining weight loss is just as important (if not more than) losing it in the first place. But in many ways, keeping the weight off is even more difficult than losing it.
In fact, studies show that most people who lose weight regain at least half of it within two years and 80% of it within five years.
Following the tips below can help ensure you maintain your weight loss in the long term.
1. Don’t Drastically Reduce Calories
One of the easiest ways to prevent weight regain is to not slash your calories significantly in the first place. Drastically reducing your caloric intake and then suddenly increasing it once you’ve reached your weight loss goal can lead to rapid weight regain.
If you don’t decrease your calories too much to begin with, your diet will be much more sustainable. You’ll also be able to lose weight at a reasonable pace rather than dropping a significant amount of weight quickly and increasing your chances of a rapid rebound.
To find out how many calories you should eat on your diet, use an online calorie calculator to first figure out your maintenance calories (the number of calories you can eat without losing or gaining weight).
Then, track your food with a calorie counting app like MyFitnessPal for two to three weeks to make sure those really are your maintenance calories. Once you’ve established your maintenance calories, aim to eat 200-300 fewer calories per day to promote weight loss.
Your rate of weight loss may be slower, but you’ll avoid feeling too hungry or suffering from low energy throughout the day. In turn, tou’ll also be less likely to start binging on food once you end your diet.
Related Article: How Much Weight Can You Lose in 60 Days (The Healthy Way)
2. Don’t Give Up on Your Exercise Routine
Another reason people regain the weight they lost is that they stop working out once they’ve hit their goals. A decrease in activity levels combined with eating more calories once they’re no longer dieting can often lead to a rebound.
Even if you don’t want to keep working out as frequently as you did when you were trying to lose weight, I recommend working out at least three days a week. On the days you don’t exercise, try to get at least 7,000-8,000 steps daily.
Continuing to move your body, even if not through traditional exercise, can help you keep the weight off.
Related Article: Is Running or Walking Better for Weight Loss? (10+ Studies)
3. Follow the 80/20 Rule
It’s normal to regain a couple of pounds once you end a diet. However, this is usually just because increasing your calories again causes you to retain more water.
But if you immediately start indulging in fatty, sugary foods once you’re done dieting, you may quickly regain a large portion of the weight you’ve lost. And if you eat too much, that weight gain won’t just be from water weight.
At the same time, eating nothing but chicken breast, broccoli, and brown rice every day isn’t enjoyable and can lead to boredom.
To find a balance between maintaining healthy eating habits and not restricting yourself from the foods you enjoy, try following the 80/20 rule instead. This means that 80% of your meals should include nutritious foods, and the other 20% can include some treats and more indulgent foods.
Let’s say you eat five meals per day, or 35 meals per week. If you follow the 80/20 rule, 28 of those meals should consist of lean proteins, healthy fat and carb sources, and vegetables. The other seven meals can include not-so-nutritious foods like a couple of slices of pizza or a cheeseburger with some fries.
This is a reasonable approach to healthy eating that allows you to fuel your body with nutritious foods while still enjoying some comfort foods every now and then.
4. Practice Different Coping Strategies for Stressful Situations
Stressful situations like losing a job, taking care of a family member with a long-term illness, or moving to a new area are all things that can derail a healthy lifestyle. However, being able to adapt and implement coping mechanisms during times like these can help you stay on track.
For example, meditating or journaling can help you stay grounded when you feel overwhelmed. Prepping some meals in advance when you do have free time can ensure you have healthy options to choose from if your schedule is jam-packed with other responsibilities.
And even if you only have 20 minutes a day to work out, doing something is better than doing nothing. If you’re not sure how to design an effective workout that doesn’t require a long time commitment, the Fitbod app can help you create a daily routine you can do based on the time you have available.
Changing your appearance is a valid reason to shed some pounds, but it’s not the only benefit of losing weight. Decreased risk of disease, increased life expectancy, better sleep, more energy, and reduced need for medications are all positive outcomes of losing weight. You may also experience less joint paint and an improved quality of life.
However, you won’t be able to take advantage of all of these benefits if you don’t maintain your weight loss. A good way to do this is to not drop your caloric intake too low to begin with so you’re less likely to binge when you end your diet.
Learning how to manage stress, finding a healthy balance between eating nutritious foods and indulging in some treats, and keeping up with a fitness routine after you reach your weight loss goals can also help ensure your long-term success.
About The Author
Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.