Health & Wellness Update: Healthy Weight

The Benefits of losing 10 Pounds

Studies have shown health benefits for people who are overweight start to occur with a loss of 5 to 10 percent of their weight. For many people, that is just 10 to 20 pounds of weight loss.

LET’S LOOK AT THE GOOD YOU ARE DOING WHEN YOU START LOSING THOSE EXTRA POUNDS:

Heart: In a study, a 5 to 10 percent loss of body weight resulted in increased odds of meaningful reductions in heart disease risk. Blood pressure decreased by as much as 5 mm/Hg (systolic and diastolic). Blood lipids also improved along with a five-point increase in HDL cholesterol levels and a drop in triglycerides as much as 40 mg/dl.1 A measurement of cardiovascular health called endothelial function also improves with weight loss, even when the subjects are still obese.2

Blood sugar: Many measures of blood sugar control improve with weight loss. A measurement of long-term blood sugar control called Hemoglobin A1C may drop as much as a half-point. (Normal is under 6.5).3 Insulin resistance also improves.4

Inflammation: Fat cells produce inflammatory molecules called cytokines, and a 10 percent drop in body fat reduces levels of these substances. Losing those extra pounds has wide-ranging effects throughout your body, as inflammation is associated with many chronic diseases.5

Joints: Every pound of loss reduces the stress on your knees by four times; so, lose 10 pounds and you take 40 pounds of stress off your knee, hips, and ankle joints.

There are a few important points to be taken from these studies. The first is that it can take a while for benefits to show up (sometimes over a year). This was especially true for the cardiovascular benefits. It is also interesting that—as long as people maintained most of their weight loss—the benefits lasted.6

The second is that the more weight you lose the better the results. When scientists crunch the data they find a wide range of effects (some people respond better than others do), but in general, those who lose the most weight have the best results.

The biggest benefit of losing a little bit of weight is that it sets you up to lose more. You now have your secret formula for weight loss. You just have to repeat it. If you lose 10 to 20 pounds and maintain your muscle mass, you can probably already see the changes on your body and your clothes will be fitting more loosely.


  1. Wing RR, Lang W, Wadden TA, et al. Benefits of modest weight loss in improving cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2011 Jul;34(7):1481-6. PMID: 21593294.
  2. Williams IL, Chowienczyk PJ, Wheatcroft SB, et al. Endothelial function and weight loss in obese humans. Obes Surg. 2005 Aug;15(7):1055-60. PMID: 16105407.
  3. Wing RR, Lang W, Wadden TA, et al. Benefits of modest weight loss in improving cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2011 Jul;34(7):1481-6. PMID: 21593294.
  4. Ho TP, Zhao X, Courville AB, et al. Effects of a 12-Month Moderate Weight Loss Intervention on Insulin Sensitivity and Inflammation Status in Nondiabetic Overweight and Obese Subjects. Horm Metab Res. 2014 Jun 30. PMID: 24977656.
  5. Ho TP, Zhao X, Courville AB, et al. Effects of a 12-Month Moderate Weight Loss Intervention on Insulin Sensitivity and Inflammation Status in Nondiabetic Overweight and Obese Subjects. Horm Metab Res. 2014 Jun 30. PMID: 24977656.
  6. de las Fuentes L, Waggoner AD, Mohammed BS, et al. Effect of moderate diet-induced weight loss and weight regain on cardiovascular structure and function. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2009 Dec 15;54(25):2376-81. PMID: 20082927.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle One of the best ways to determine whether someone is successful in a weight-loss program1 is how well they adhere to the program. The principle component of adherence is a serious commitment to making the necessary lifestyle changes. “Lifestyle” is a catchall phrase for many factors that generally consist of dietary changes, behavior modification, and activity level.

The National Weight Control Registry has researched these lifestyle changes and determined that people who are successful at weight loss and maintenance share some common characteristics:

Diet: They choose a low-fat, low-calorie diet.

Breakfast: They eat breakfast every day.

Monitor: They track their progress by weighing themselves about once a week.

Permanent: They view the changes they are making as permanent. They are not on a diet but are determined to make changes to their lives.

Activity: They maintain a regular exercise program.

OTHER LIFESTYLE CHANGES THAT HELP INCLUDE:

Portion control: Most people are bad at determining the size of portions, but this is something that gets better with time.

Keeping a food record: While keeping a record of everything you eat and drink can seem cumbersome, it is actually a great way to learn where you may be eating more calories than you realize and can be quite helpful with your weight-loss progress.

Eating structured meals: The more you can take the guesswork out of eating, the better. Find a good stable of recipes that you can turn to when you are feeling hungry or pressed for time.

It is also important to remember that there is a strong emotional/mental part of eating. It takes practice to understand if emotions are driving you to eat more. Identifying and controlling stressors can really help! The participation of friends and family can add essential support in your weight-loss endeavors.

The good news about improving lifestyle factors is that they have an additive effect on your weight loss; when you exercise, you feel better mentally, and this, in turn, helps you avoid junk food. The more lifestyle changes, the better. Make lifestyle changes a partner in your weight-loss goals.


  1. Pagoto SL, Appelhans BM. A call for an end to the diet debates. JAMA. 2013 Aug 21;310(7):687-8. PMID: 2398908123989081.

Leucine

Being overweight or obese is the number one health issue of our day. Excess weight is associated with many diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis. Excess weight increases suffering, decreases quality of living, reduces life expectancy, and places a large burden on already burdened health care resources.1

Reversing the obesity epidemic will no doubt require advances on many fronts, including public health policy, consumer and physician education, and community engagement in supporting initiatives to help people become more active. There are literally hundreds of weight-loss programs, most of which do indeed lead to weight loss—but no attention is paid to what constitutes healthy and sustainable weight loss. Loss of water weight or muscle mass (as occurs in all programs) initially looks good on the scale, but fails in the long term to achieve the goal of permanent weight loss.

Since lean muscle mass constitutes the majority of metabolism2, loss of muscle mass is unsustainable in the long-term as metabolism will plummet along with weight loss, which leads to regaining of weight unless permanent changes in diet and lifestyle have occurred. Maintenance of lean muscle mass, therefore, is a key element of a successful weight-loss program.3

PROTEIN MAINTAINS MUSCLE MASS

Since the time of the Roman Empire, protein has been known to help build muscles. When amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) were discovered, it was clear that only certain types of amino acids led to muscle building. The branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) were found to have the most effect on maintaining muscle mass, and eventually leucine emerged as the amino acid that has unique effects on protein synthesis.4

Leucine has been shown to have the following effects helpful for weight loss:

  • Leucine inhibits the breakdown of other proteins.5
  • Leucine increases metabolism (thermogenic effect).6
  • During a low-calorie diet, consumption of leucine helps maintain lean muscle mass so that weight loss can preferentially come from fat stores.7
  • Leucine stimulates a rise in plasma leptin and helps people feel full.8

Several long-term studies in obese participants who consumed a high-soy protein/low-fat diet suggested improved body composition by losing fat and preserving muscle mass.9 Leucine supplementation combined with exercise appears to be one of the most effective way for maintaining lean muscle mass for weight loss.10

CONCLUSION

Excess weight continues to be a challenging public health problem. It is clear that increased protein content of meals during a weight-loss program not only increases satiety and modulates cravings, but also is the main metabolic messenger for the synthesis and maintenance of lean muscle mass.

The majority of leucine-related literature confirms the significance of leucine as a dietary modulator of muscle maintenance that is useful for weight loss and maintenance. The leucine content of a meal may be the critical factor for determining the quantity and quality of proteins necessary at a meal for stimulation of muscle protein synthesis and/or decreased muscle breakdown, and the maintenance of lean body mass and metabolism.


  1. Wolf AM, Colditz GA. Current estimates of the economic cost of obesity in the United States. Obes Res. 1998 Mar;6(2):97-106. PMID: 9545015.
  2. Zurlo F, Larson K, Bogardus C, Ravussin E. Skeletal muscle metabolism is a major determinant of resting energy expenditure. J Clin Invest. 1990 Nov;86(5):1423-7. PMID: 2243122.
  3. Deibert P, König D, Schmidt-Trucksaess A, et al. Weight loss without losing muscle mass in pre-obese and obese subjects induced by a high-soy-protein diet. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Oct;28(10):1349-52. PMID: 15303108.
  4. Layman DK, Walker DA. Potential importance of leucine in treatment of obesity and the metabolic syndrome. J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):319S-23S. PMID: 16365106. PDF
  5. Zanchi NE, Nicastro H, Lancha AH Jr. Potential antiproteolytic effects of L-leucine: observations of in vitro and in vivo studies. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2008 Jul 17;5:20. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-5-20. PMID: 18637185. PDF
  6. Tappy L, Jéquier E, Acheson K. Thermic effect of infused amino acids in healthy humans and in subjects with insulin resistance. Am J Clin Nutr. 1993 Jun;57(6):912-6. PMID: 8503362.
  7. Churchward-Venne TA, Breen L, et al. Leucine supplementation of a low-protein mixed macronutrient beverage enhances myofibrillar protein synthesis in young men: a double-blind, randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Feb;99(2):276-86. PMID: 24284442.
  8. Lynch CJ, Gern B, Lloyd C, Hutson SM, Eicher R, Vary TC. Leucine in food mediates some of the postprandial rise in plasma leptin concentrations. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Sep;291(3):E621-30. Epub 2006 Apr 25. PMID: 16638821. PDF
  9. Deibert P, König D, Schmidt-Trucksaess A, et al. Weight loss without losing muscle mass in pre-obese and obese subjects induced by a high-soy-protein diet. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Oct;28(10):1349-52. PMID: 15303108.
  10. Westcott W, Varghese J, DiNubile N, et al. Exercise and Nutrition More Effective than Exercise Alone for Increasing Lean Weight and Reducing Resting Blood Pressure. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online. 2011, 14(4). PDF
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s