Dropping a few extra pounds is a little like a two-edged sword. It can improve your lifestyle with its overall benefits, but according to Dr. Adam Tsai, MD, of Kaiser Permanente Colorado, it should be undertaken with some degree of caution. While weight loss can lessen your risk of diabetes and heart diseases, it can also have hidden costs to your health.
Here are some of the benefits and setbacks you may not know about when it comes to weight loss.
1. Better Eyesight
You may have noticed the drastic change in Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey as he portrayed an AIDS patient in the blockbuster movie Dallas Buyers Club. As a result, he said in his interviews, he started to have problems with his eyesight. That could be caused by his extreme weight loss regimen or certain deficits in his nutritional intake.
However, for most people, losing weight can improve their chances of having eye problems caused by obesity-related illnesses, such as Type II Diabetes.
As revealed by a study conducted by the University of Georgia in 2013, higher body fat percentage is strongly linked with reduced levels of lutien and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants found in the retinal tissue. “The results indicate that adiposity may affect the nutritional state of the retina,” it is reported in the study. This means that obesity may be a factor that aggravates age-related eyesight problems.
2. Lower Cancer Risk
Dr. Tsai, who is also a spokesperson for the Obesity Society, states that obesity is known to be associated with various cancer types. Obesity can result in inflammatory conditions throughout the body that may trigger cell changes.
Based on a 2012 study conducted on post-menopausal women and published in the Cancer Research journal, inflammation levels can be reduced by shedding at least 5% if the body weight. This is supported by a subsequent study on obese males published in the Obesity Research journal in 2014, which revealed that undergoing bariatric surgery reduced cancer risks significantly.
3. Higher Energy Levels
When you start to lose weight, you will feel a sudden spike in your energy levels. This natural rush of vigour is due to the fact that the energy you used to expend carrying that extra weight is now ready to be used for other activity. Dr. Tsai says that you also become more oxygen-efficient. Thus, no longer will you lose your breath when you find yourself in a rush.
4. Improved memory
A study conducted in Sweden showed that individuals who followed a weight-loss plan had better scores on a memory test after six months. There was also more activity detected in the brain during the memory encoding process, and less activity during the memory retrieval process. This suggests that the memory recall process in these dieters is significantly more efficient. Moreover, this also agrees with a separate finding that obesity can be linked to poor memory recall.
According to Dr. Andreas Pettersson, MD, “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.”
5. Better Workout
Exercising can be a chore when you’re lugging around extra weight. Dr. Tsai says that working out can cause a strain your joints and cause your lungs to tire more easily. However, once you start to trim down, exercise can be a fun and painless experience. For instance, for every pound shed in running, a runner can cut two seconds of the total time it would usually take to complete a mile-long lap.
6. Higher Job Status
The surprising results of a study in 2004 published in the Health Economics journal reveal that the obese worker earns an average of 2.5% lower than that of a non-obese colleague. In a separate study in 2014, British researchers found that losing weight may also enable you to garner more job offers.
Overall, research shows that obese people receive lower paychecks than their non-obese counterparts. This means that losing weight can be your road to a better and more prestigious employment status.
7. Fertility Boost
Women who desire to have a baby could lose a few extra pounds to help with their chances of conception. In 2009, the Fertility and Sterility journal reported that obesity in women is closely linked with infertility and reproductive problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome. The younger the woman starts becoming obese, the lower her chances of getting pregnant.
The woman’s weight before and during pregnancy significantly affects the health outcome of her child. Losing extra weight can also help with a healthier pregnancy and delivering a healthy baby.
8. Relationship Crises
Weight loss has been observed to have two kinds of effects in the relationships of people who are romantically involved with a partner. A study in 2013 conducted by the North Carolina State University revealed that while losing at least 60 pounds may enhance romantic relationships, there are instances when the partner can feel jealous or even threatened.
Changes in your body is usually achieved with changes in your lifestyle, which may throw your partner into uncertainty about his or her own lifestyle choices. Your partner may even be concerned with personality changes you could undergo.
According to Health magazine‘s contributing psychology editor Dr. Gail Saltz, MD, “You feeling great, sexy, or confident could shift the balance of the relationship. They fear losing the identity of the more confident one or losing the upper hand.”
9. Static Mood State
Depression has been linked by many research studies to weight gain and being overweight. However, it is not clear which of the two causes the other. There are cases in which people’s mood improved after they’ve shed a few extra pounds, it is not always the best and most effective solution.
Dr. Tsai cautions, “For a smaller percentage of people, mood will not improve even after they lose 100 pounds.”
The reason for this may be that whatever problems you have which may have caused your depression had nothing to do with weight loss, Dr. Saltz explains.
10. Bone Changes
It has been said that drastic weight loss can weaken the bones. Some cases indeed support the observation that losing weight is closely connected with loss of bone density. However, this only happens when the weight loss is done in an unhealthy way.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, weight loss actually causes more good than otherwise. Although being overweight causes strain to the joints, it can actually make the bones stronger, by virtue of the extra pounds they have to carry. New research also finds that for both men and women, the visceral belly fat is not good for the bones.
The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons advises that a proper weight loss program can help manage and even reduce symptoms of arthritis.
11. Saggier Skin
One of the less attractive effects of losing weight is the effect of losing the extra mass that was once your extra heft, which is loose and sagging skin. It usually is the last and most difficult thing you can get rid of after drastic weight loss, and in some cases it stays as a permanent condition.
Some people decide on various body alterations that help contour the shape of the skin, such as a tummy tuck, facelift, breast lift. However, surgery always comes with a myriad of risk factors, which may be outside health care and insurance coverage.
12. Altered Tastebuds
Drastic weight loss can result in changes in how you taste your food. In Stanford University, a research study revealed that 87% of patients recovering from bariatric surgery noticed a distinct change in their tastebuds.
Around 50% reported that the food had more bite in its taste, while the rest complained of blandness of flavour. This latter group was found to have experienced severe weight loss, up to 20% more in over three months than those who thought their food had a sharper and stronger taste.
According to the proponents of the study, additional research needs to be conducted in order to investigate what is causing the change in the sense of taste. Regardless, another study by the Leicester Royal Infirmary in the United Kingdom confirmed these findings. Up to 75% of the patients who took part in the research grew averse to certain tastes, usually for dairy and meat, following their surgery.
13. Less Meds
Keeping your weight healthy can help reduce risks for diabetes and various heart diseases. However, if you already have these medical conditions and are also packing a few extra pounds to boot, you can still benefit from a weight loss program.
According to Dr. Tsai, “These conditions won’t necessarily go away, but you may be able to reduce your symptoms and the amount of medication you take.” Medication dosage may be lessened as a result of weight loss. Studies also reveal that losing weight can help control asthma, heartburn, and other various chronic conditions.
14. Health Care Savings
People who are not overweight spend less money on medical bills and health-related costs than those who suffer from obesity, as confirmed by a research study conducted in 2009 published in the Health Affairs journal. It is found that obese people spend an average of $1,429 more, or 42% than what non-obese people do. Most of these expenses are for prescriptions that are essential in the management of chronic conditions.
Additionally, in Michigan, a 2014 report on its residents revealed that annual health care expenses for obese individuals were 90% higher than that of non-obese individuals.
15. More Sleep
Losing at least 5% of your body weight for an average period of six months could allow you to gain as much as 20 minutes of sleep, based on a study done by the University of Pennsylvania in 2014. Supporting this is a research in Finland which found that weight lost could improve symptoms of sleep apnea.
According to Dr. Tsai, “Losing weight usually means there’s less there to physically constrict your breathing and less soft tissue to block the upper airways.” Aside from that, better sleep also enables the body to efficiently burn calories. Thus, getting proper sleep at night can help you to achieve and maintain your ideal body weight.