Most of us set our weight loss goals in terms of arbitrary numbers. We want to lose 50 pounds, 75 pounds, 100 pounds. Always big whole numbers, never something like 13 or 22 or 37.
Those arbitrary numbers lead to unrealistic goals that tyrannize and discourage our efforts.
This time, set your weight loss goals in terms of a percentage, starting with just 5%.
Studies show that losing just 5% of your body weight can reward you with healthy benefits, such as reducing risk factors for various chronic obesity-related diseases. (1). In one study (2), people who lost 5% (about 12 pounds average for study participants) benefited from:
- decreased body fat
- decreases in factors that contribute to heart disease, such as blood glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and leptins
- improvements in insulin reponse in the liver, muscle tissue and fat.
In a larger study (3) people who lost between 5% to 10% saw improvements in:
- decreased blood glucose
- decreased blood pressure (both diastolic and systolic)
- increased HDL (the good or "happy" cholesterol)
- decreased triglycerides.
Improvements are even greater if you lose 10%-15%.
But start with 5%, because any improvement is good.
After the initial 5%, go for another 5%, then another. Something cool happens - the number you need to lose keeps getting smaller with each 5% loss! Now isn't that better than an arbitrary block of 50 pounds as a goal?
To figure your 5% goal, just multiply your weight by .05. For example, if you weight 200 pounds, 5% is 10 pounds (200 x .05). If you weigh 180, 5% is 9 pounds. (180 x .09)
To research on your own and read even more studies, paste this search string into Google:
health benefits 5% weight site:.gov
(The last part, site:.gov, limits the search to government-funded studies. It's a good way to avoid click-bait traps.)
1. CDC (Centers for Disease Control). "Losing Weight."
2. NIH (National Institutes of Health). "Benefits of Moderate Weight Loss in People with Obesity."
3. "Benefits of Modest Weight Loss in Improving Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes." Rena R Wing et al. Diabetes Care, Volume 34, July 2011, pages 1482-1486.