Have you ever been told that you should lose so much weight that it seemed too daunting to even try? Has a doctor ever told you that you “should” weigh a number that was a weight you have not seen since high school, and so you may have been left feeling discouraged? Especially if the only guidance you were given was to “eat less and move more”, setting a goal weight that is too low can make it less likely that you will realize the real and clinically significant health (and symptom) benefits of modest weight loss. What do the scientific studies actually say about what you should set as a “goal weight” when considering a journey to a healthier weight?
Studies show that as little as 3% weight loss has clinically significant health benefits. If you reach 5 or 10% weight loss, the benefits are even higher. By the time you reach 15% weight loss, much of the increased risk of things like developing Type 2 Diabetes is much lower. How much weight is this? Well, for example, for a person who is 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighs 250 lbs, their BMI is 38. They would be told they need to lose 90 lbs, or get a goal weight of under 160 pounds, to have a normal BMI that is under 25. This is a weight loss of 36%. The only method of weight loss that has been shown to be likely to lead to that amount of weight loss is gastric bypass surgery. Even the most effective, brand name prescription medication for weight loss has shown up to 27% average weight loss. What is a person to do when they are told by a physician to achieve a health outcome and then not given a treatment expected to achieve that health outcome? Of course, these are statistics, and individuals defy statistics, but the message is that any amount of reduction in excess weight reduces health risks. As little as 2-5% weight loss improved blood pressure and triglycerides. Weight loss of 5 to 10% weight loss improves blood sugar and cholesterol. These benefits can be as much, or more, than with a prescription drug. Here is an example of amounts of weight loss that show meaningful health benefit.
Starting Weight: 250 lbs, 68 inches tall, starting BMI 38
Losing one pound a week requires about a 500 calorie deficit per day, or 3500 calories a week. Nutrition is the biggest factor when it comes to weight loss. Replacing just one meal per day with a meal replacement can lead to modest weight loss. Don’t let the idea of a large amount of weight loss deter you from considering small to modest weight loss. The studies show that aiming for a 5 to 10% weight loss and keeping it off is a great bet for your health. Our Peak Plan is replacing one meal and one snack per day and is a flexible, well tolerated way to achieve this. There is never a perfect time except for now. Let us support and guide you.
Take Back Your Health,
Valerie Hope-Slocum Sutherland, MD