Other than feeling incredible, gaining some killer self-confidence, and just crushing those #goals, losing extra weight has some serious health benefits that surpass anything you see on the scale or in the mirror.
10 Bonus Health Benefits of Weight Loss
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Maybe you want to lose weight for an upcoming event or to train for a race, or maybe you just want to feel better in your leggings. No matter the reason behind it, losing weight is typically associated with changes you can see on the outside. And while that can certainly be a confidence booster, there are many more amazing transformations happening on the inside. From dermatologists to psychologists, we tapped the experts to share all the other awesome health benefits of losing weight—you know, besides actually losing weight.
You'll Improve Your Memory
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Did you know obesity has been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease? According to a study from John Hopkins University, people with a healthy BMI have a lower risk for dementia than people with a BMI in the obese range. (It's important to note, however, that the researchers saw an increased risk in people whose BMI fell into the "underweight" category as well.)
Losing weight might help reverse memory issues, as one study from Kent State University's department of psychology found that memory, cognition, and problem-solving skills were improved after people underwent weight-loss surgery. Professor of neuropsychology John Gunstad observed a group of 150 overweight men and women and found that prior to surgery, these people had notably impaired performance on cognitive tests. But Gunstad saw improvements in memory and concentration as soon as 12 weeks after the procedure, and those positive changes continued for several years.
"One of the things we know is that as individuals become more cardiovascular fit and their heart health gets better, their brain health also improves," Gunstad said in a press release.
You'll Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
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You'll lower your LDL (low-density lipoprotein, aka "bad cholesterol") and raise your HD ( high-density lipoprotein; or "good cholesterol"). That means more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff, for an overall lower cholesterol count.
Really motivated to lower cholesterol? Here are five ways to do it naturally.
You'll Maintain or Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
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Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity, but losing weight may help to reverse or lessen its effects. Pietrzykowska says that many of her patients with type 2 diabetes find that they don't rely as much on their blood sugar regulating medication after they lose weight. "With a more aggressive medical weight-loss plan (a diet that is lower in calories and carbs, specifically), these patients decrease their medication requirements pretty quickly," she says. "Their blood glucose levels and other diabetes markers also improve." In extreme cases, Pietrzykowska says she was able to discontinue insulin injections entirely for some of her very obese patients who lost 20 to 30 percent of their body weight. Aside from weight loss, check out these other ways to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
You'll Build Stronger Bones and Joints
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The heavier you are, the more stress you put on the weight-bearing joints such as your hips, knees, and lower back. This can cause osteoarthritis from the wear and tear of the protective cartilage that surrounds those joints. However, orthopedist Dennis Cardone, M.D., says weight loss can decrease the risk and progression of the condition. "Osteoarthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and loss in mobility, and losing weight can reduce some of these symptoms," says Dr. Cardone. By losing weight, your body can tolerate more impact and activity. Just think, training for that half marathon without distracting aches and pains (for the most part) is finally within reach. Bonus benefit: All those weight-bearing exercises that you can now do comfortably also increase your bone density, which means you're forming stronger bones with every step you take.
You'll Boost Your Mood
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Physical therapist and athletic trainer, John Gallucci, says your initial motivation to adopt that new gym habit might have been to shed a few pounds, but the new routine can also help boost your mood along with your confidence. "When your body is placed under stress—the dreaded stair climber!—the brain produces endorphins, which act as natural painkillers to assist in relieving the pain or discomfort you're feeling," says Gallucci. "Endorphins also have the power in the brain to bring about feelings of euphoria or whole-body well-being." We'll take it! Try these mood-lifting workouts to feel the effects the next time you hit the gym.
You'll See Clearer, Younger-Looking Skin
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The blood sugar roller coaster that can come from poor eating habits—processed food, bread overload, and of course, sweets—can show up on your skin, too. "High blood sugar has been associated with both acne breakouts and premature aging through a process called glycation," says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D. "When sugar molecules attach to collagen, it can lead to hardening and breakage of collagen with premature aging and wrinkling." So it looks like cleaning up your diet will not just help you reach your weight-loss goals—you can also expect to see reduced signs of aging and improved skin health overall. Convinced your acne is caused by something other than your diet? Try these helpful tips on how to get rid of stubborn acne for good.
You'll Sleep Better
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Sleep apnea affects 12 million people in the U.S., and people who are overweight are among the most commonly affected. In a study led by Temple University, researchers randomly placed about 250 obese people with type 2 diabetes into two groups. The first group went through an extensive weight-loss program involving both exercise and portion-controlled diets. The second attended informational sessions that focused on diabetes management. The results? After one year the weight-loss group dropped an average of 24 pounds (awesome), but more surprisingly, 13 percent of them cleared up their sleep apnea issues completely (whoa!).
Your Sex Drive Will Increase
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Of course, with weight loss comes a major confidence boost, and that extra pep in your step can also mean an even better sex life. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine followed the progress of more than 100 women's weight-loss surgery. A year after they had the procedure, not only had they lost an average of 32.7 percent of their original body weight, but the women reported improvements in sexual desire, arousal, lubrication, and overall sexual satisfaction.
You'll Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer
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Losing just 5 percent of your body weight has been shown to reduce your risk for certain types of common breast cancer, according to research out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The study separated more than 400 overweight or obese women into four groups: exercise only, dieting only, exercise and diet, and a control group who didn't change anything about their eating or exercise habits. The results saw that estrogen levels went down for women who focused on diet changes, but even more so for women who focused their efforts on both dieting and exercise.
You'll Save Money
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Costs associated with medical and drug claims rise with a rising BMI. The higher your BMI, the higher that doctor's bill will likely be.