When asked why we want to lose weight, we often point to reasons like looking good in a swimsuit or fitting into our favorite pair of jeans again. Of course, health issues are another common motivator: a healthy weight can decrease the risk of serious problems like diabetes and heart disease.
But did you know there are plenty of other, more surprising perks of slimming down? Even just dropping a few pounds can have some amazing benefits (some you might not have even known about!).
Here are 10 surprising benefits of losing weight. Did any of them surprise you? Let us know in the comments below!
1) Decreased Allergy and Asthma Symptoms
While it isn’t true for everyone, some people find their asthma and allergies improve as they lose weight. Here are the big reasons why:
- Less strain on your lungs: Being overweight, especially any excess weight in the midsection of the body, puts strain on the adrenal glands and respiratory system, making allergies and asthma worse.
- Decreases your risk for certain diseases: Obesity also increases your risk for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diabetes, and hypertension, which can worsen asthma symptoms. By losing weight, you reduce your risk of developing these conditions and their potential negative impact on your asthma.
- More opportunities to exercise: Losing weight helps you to exercise and move around more, which helps improve asthma symptoms and outcomes.
- Increases asthma medicine effectiveness: Research performed by the American Lung Association Airways Clinical Research Centers Network (ACRC) found that medications for asthma, such as inhaled corticosteroids, were less effective in obese patients compared to those with a lower body mass index (BMI).
For reasons we still don’t fully understand, being overweight or obese also increases your risk of developing asthma. Therefore losing weight can not only help lessen any asthma symptoms but potentially reduce your risk of developing asthma to begin with.
2) Better Sleep
Overweight or obesity is a common cause of sleep apnea. In a four-year longitudinal study of overweight and obese American adults, researchers found that those with the greatest weight gain were more likely to struggle with falling asleep, with the risk of severe apnea increasing the higher the age and BMI of the participants.
Research has also shown that you are more likely to gain weight the less sleep that you get. In one 16-year study including nearly 70,000 middle-aged women, they found that women who slept five hours a night were 32% more likely to experience major weight gain compared to those who slept seven hours a night.
It’s unclear whether the lack of sleep is causing obesity or the obesity is causing the lack of sleep. Luckily though, losing weight can help you get better sleep and cut your sleep apnea problems in half. And as you’re losing weight and getting better sleep as a result, your body has an easier time continuing to keep the weight off!
3) Improved mood
Losing weight can not only help you feel healthier, but it could also lead to improvements in your mood. Many individuals who are overweight often struggle with issues surrounding their mood, self-esteem, and body image. This is especially the case for women compared to men who often experience more societal pressure to meet impossible beauty standards.
What results from this pressure and social stigma is that someone who is obese is five times more likely to experience major depression than a non-obese individual. Luckily, research shows that weight loss programs can help to reduce symptoms of depression.
There are a lot of factors at play that could be causing this boost in mood. For example, this might have something to do with that improved sleep quality! Or, it could be a result of feeling more in control or confident in your body thanks to the implementation of a healthier lifestyle. Whatever the reason, there is a relationship between a healthy weight and an improved mood.
4) Less joint pain
Every time you take a step, the force exerted on your knees is 1.5 times that of your body weight. When you go up and down stairs this number gets even higher to two to three times your body weight. As you can imagine, the more weight you are carrying around the more strain and pressure you are going to put on your joints.
Too much prolonged pressure on your joints can increase your risk of osteoarthritis, which is when your body’s cartilage wears down over time causing bones to rub up against one another. A BMI of 30 or higher makes you four to five times more likely to get arthritis in your knees.
Losing weight helps ease that joint pain and reduce that risk, with one study indicating that one pound of weight lost is equivalent to four fewer pounds of pressure. That means if you lost 20 pounds, you would have 80 fewer pounds of pressure on your knees and hips. Your joints will definitely be thanking you!
5) Relief from arthritis
If you are currently struggling with joint pain or arthritis, losing weight can help ease your symptoms and reduce the overall severity of your condition. While your body can’t regrow cartilage, you can help your joints feel better and minimize further damage by losing weight and reducing the pressure that you put on them.
Losing weight also reduces your body’s inflammatory response, which is a major cause and irritant for arthritis. The more fat stores you have, the higher your inflammation levels will be and the higher your risk of developing or worsening arthritis.
According to the Director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Treatment Center, losing as little as 10 pounds can help to reduce the progression of knee osteoarthritis by 50%. Generally, research has found that the more weight you lose, the better your quality of life will be with arthritis.
6) Stronger immune system
Your immune system is set up to defend your body from harmful germs, viruses, and other external invaders. Everything from a healthy diet to exercise bolsters your body’s immune system. Too much body fat or weight gain causes that immune system to stop working at its best and increases your risk of infection.
While the cause of this is still relatively unknown, one theory points to “pro-inflammatory” immune cells, which increase inflammation in the body. Too much body fat triggers the production of these cells which can lead to chronic inflammation or other health problems such as coronary artery disease.
This makes it harder for your body to fight off those harmful invaders and, as a result, weakens your immune response. Things like losing weight, exercising more, and eating healthier foods all help keep that immune system feeling strong and ready to defend.
7) Better memory
Weight loss is associated with improvements in brain function including memory, attention, decision-making, language, and motor speed. In one review of 20 studies, they found that participants who lost weight improved their cognitive functions across both longitudinal studies and randomized controlled trials.
Another study on 20 overweight women found that their memories improved after going through a paleo-modified diet. Researchers saw an increase in the participant’s brain activity in the hippocampus region, which is the part of the brain primarily responsible for learning and memory.
The study points to decreased levels of plasma-free fatty acids as the primary reason for this memory improvement, although science is still diving deeper here to fully understand what’s going on. Either way, that weight loss could help give you more of your memory back!
8) Clearer skin
It isn’t completely understood why, but there is a connection between certain skin problems and obesity. When you lose weight, you could help reduce or alleviate some of those conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and aging.
This is primarily a result of eating healthier and avoiding certain foods that might trigger a reaction in your skin. For example, higher levels of blood sugar from your diet could lead to a loss of elasticity in the skin and a higher likelihood of acne.
A study analyzing surveys from over 24,000 adults found a positive correlation between acne and consumption of high-fat and sugary foods and beverages. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the diet was the cause, it does suggest an association between unhealthy eating and unwanted skin conditions.
When you start to lose weight and eat healthier, it’s natural for your skin to respond positively to the healthier foods you are putting in your body. This is especially true for those with psoriasis, where a healthy diet and weight loss could help reduce the disease’s severity and improve your body’s response to treatment.
9) Better sex life
It’s normal to feel a boost in self-esteem and confidence after losing weight, which certainly helps heat things up in the bed.
But beyond that, being overweight can strain the heart, elevate your cholesterol, and lead to hypertension, high blood pressure, and diabetes, all of which can cause performance issues for men. Luckily, by losing weight you can bypass those performance issues and enjoy a better sex life.
10) Food will taste better
It’s true! Being overweight or obese can impact your taste buds and change how you experience certain foods. The exact reason is unknown but a big theory around this involves inflammation. Obesity causes inflammation and inflammation decreases your taste sensitivity or how you experience certain foods.
Your sensitivity to certain foods could also be impacted by the types of food you eat. Eating lots of foods responsible for weight gain (think super sweet, super fatty, super salty) could make you less sensitive to those foods.
What tastes like a salty dish to one person who never eats salt might not be salty enough for the person who constantly pours it on their food. The danger with this is that when flavors take on less intensity you might overcompensate with certain unhealthy foods to reach the taste level that you desire.
Losing weight and eating healthier can actually change the way you experience food to the point where you will stop craving sugar or salt-filled foods and maybe even start craving healthier alternatives instead! This trains your taste buds to be more sensitive to foods like salt and sugar, meaning it takes less of those unhealthy foods to experience that explosion of flavor on your taste buds than it did before.
Ready to start losing weight and experiencing these surprising weight-loss benefits? We’re here to help you start your journey to a healthier lifestyle. Make sure to check out the below blog posts for healthy eating and dieting tips to get started. Plus, shop our proven solutions to find the right fit for you.