In a fascinating new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the greatest benefit of weight loss in obese patients apparently comes from losing just 5% of their body weight. Published online on February 22 in the journal Cell Metabolism, they found that this relatively small weight loss lowered patients’ risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease while improving the metabolic function in liver, fat and muscle tissue.
As the principal investigator Samuel Klein, MD, director of Washington University’s Center for Human Nutrition said, “Our findings demonstrate that you get the biggest bang for your buck with 5 percent weight loss. The current guidelines for treating obesity recommend a 5 to 10 percent weight loss, but losing 5 percent of your body weight is much easier than losing 10 percent. So it may make sense for patients to aim at the easier target.”
The study included asking 40 obese individuals to either maintain their body weight or start a diet to lose 5-15% of their body weight. This is thought to be the first time that a trial has separated weight loss outcomes and distinguished between a 5% loss and a 10% or greater loss.
With the 19 volunteers who lost 5% of their body weight, the function of insulin-secreting beta cells improved, the insulin sensitivity in fat tissues improved, the liver and skeletal muscle tissue improved and there was a decrease in total body fat and less fat in the liver.
For the nine participants who then continued to lose weight until the 15% mark, they had some improvements but not in all areas. Their bet cell function and insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue improved, but neither their insulin sensitivity in the liver or the adipose tissue continued to improve.
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What they found from this is that, as Klein explained, “Muscle tissue responds much more to continued weight loss, but liver and adipose tissue have pretty much achieved their maximum benefit at 5 percent weight loss.”
Certainly, more research is needed by the initial findings are quite interesting. Klein would like to also study people who have diabetes.
Obviously, having a healthy weight is important. But it’s interesting to note how much the first 5% of that weight loss can have an impact.