If you’re more likely to get the condition, weight loss is one of two ways to prevent or delay it. The other is moderate exercise — 30 minutes on 5 days a week. If you weigh 160 pounds, you could lose just 8-12 of them to get the benefit. If you already have diabetes, losing that weight can help you take less medication, keep control of your blood sugar, and lower the odds that the condition will cause other health problems.
You can lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol with healthier food and medications. But it’s harder to raise levels of the “good” kind of cholesterol, HDL. That’s the type that clears bad LDL from your blood, so the more you have, the better. Exercise and losing body fat can get you into the ideal HDL range: above 60 mg/dl, which lowers your odds of having heart disease.
They’re particles in your body that transport fat for storage and energy. High levels (more than 200 mg/dl) mean you’re more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. You can get closer to healthy levels (around 150 mg/dl) if you slim down a little.
Extra body weight makes your blood push harder against your artery walls. That makes your heart work harder, too. You can lower the pressure by about 5 points if you trim 5% from that number on the scale. Cut your salt and eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy, and you may lower it even more.
Fat, especially in your belly area, gives off chemicals that make your body stop reacting to the effects of insulin, a hormone that keeps the level of sugar in your blood normal. Even though your pancreas works harder to make more insulin, your blood sugar can get too high. A little bit of weight loss can help reverse this effect.
People who are overweight gain extra tissue in the back of their throat. When your body relaxes when you sleep, that tissue can drop down and block your airway. It makes you stop breathing over and over all night, which causes all kinds of health problems, especially for your heart. Slimming down a little can improve sleep apnea — sometimes enough that you can stop using the bulky breathing devices that treat it.
You’re likely to get more ZZZs if you lose weight. And it will be better rest, too. But you won’t see much of a change unless you drop at least 5%. In one study, people who did slept an extra 21.6 minutes a night, compared with only 1.2 minutes for those who lost less than 5%.