10 Possible Weight Loss Effects

Some effects you may expect, while others might be surprising.

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Dropping just 5% to 10% of your body weight can improve your overall health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and reduce your risk for chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

However, there are quite a few effects of losing weight—here are 10 of them.

Your Energy Level Will Skyrocket

A March 2019 study published in Obesity said that the total amount of energy spent for body function maintenance (e.g., breathing) and physical activity as well as resting energy decrease when an individual loses weight.

In other words, when you're carrying around fewer pounds, you use less energy to simply go about your day, Adam Tsai, MD, a former physician at Kaiser Permanente Colorado in Denver and a spokesperson for the Obesity Society, told Health. Thus, a big energy boost is often the first thing people notice when they start losing weight.

Weight Loss Can Affect Relationships—Both Ways

When you lose weight, your partner might end up doing the same. That was the finding of a randomized controlled trial in a March 2018 Obesity study examining the untreated spouses of participants in either a formal or self-guided weight management program. By the six-month mark, about a third of the spouses lost 3% or more of their initial body weight, according to the study.

"There is good evidence that people gain weight when their spouses do, and our research suggests the flip side is true too," lead author Amy Gorin, PhD, professor of psychological sciences and director of the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy at the University of Connecticut, told Health. That may be partly due to the shared food environment—like having more fruits and veggies in the home, said Gorin.

Also, researchers of a Frontiers in Global Women's Health study published in May 2022 investigated the weight change perspectives of romantic partners in terms of body image, gender, sexual orientation, and experiences within the relationship. High quality relationships were connected to seeing minimal changes in a partner's weight—suggesting that the opposite might be true of relationships where weight changes were more drastic.

Your Risk of Cancer Will Be Lower

Being overweight or obesity have been linked to an increase risk of several types of cancers, said the American Cancer Society (ACS).

While researchers continue to try sorting out the exact relationship, it appears that excess body weight may increase cancer risk in several different ways. Potential ways could be by boosting inflammation, influencing hormones, or affecting cell growth, the society explained.

Additionally, the relationship with body weight is thought to be stronger for some cancers more than others. It's a factor in more than half of all endometrial cancers, according to the ACS.

Your Level of Depression May Vary

Concerning weight changes and depression, it's not always possible to tell what comes first, explained Dr. Tsai. In other words, a "bi-directional relationship" exists between the two conditions, meaning that obesity may cause depression or vice versa.

A March 2021 review published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine found a trend between obesity, depression, diet, and exercise: People who lost weight experienced less depressive symptoms. "Depression typically improves with weight loss," explained Dr. Tsai. However, for a smaller percentage of people, "mood will not improve even after they lose 100 pounds," added Dr. Tsai.

You Can Create New Healthy Habits

Over the span of eight to 14 weeks, using habit-based interventions helped individuals lose a significant amount of weight, per an August 2020 Journal of Behavioral Medicine review. Those interventions included doing certain health-related tasks (e.g., eating a certain amount of produce) each day; breaking unhealthy exercise and diet behaviors; and forming new healthy exercise and diet behaviors.

When you're carrying around extra pounds, exercising can make your joints hurt and lungs burn more than when you're at a healthier weight, said Dr. Tsai. However, taking your time to gradually lose weight with exercise and a good diet may eventually lead to habitual workouts and healthy eating choices.

Your Bones May Change

While it's true that weight loss is associated with bone loss—as noted by researchers of a 2020 Gerontology study—it's only a big concern if you become underweight or follow an unhealthy diet.

Of note, extra weight might also make your bones stronger as a result of you having to carry that weight, but it also damages joints. However, the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation (BHOF) stated that weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises (which could lead to some weight loss) can help to build and maintain strong bones.

You May Be Able to Reduce or Eliminate Medications

Maintaining a healthy weight can help protect you from diabetes and heart disease. However, if you're already overweight and have these conditions, slimming down can still help.

You may be able to take less blood pressure or cholesterol medication, for example, or learn to manage your type 2 diabetes without giving yourself daily insulin injections. "Weight-related conditions such as diabetes typically improve with weight loss," Dr. Tsai said, adding that there is a dose-response relationship—the greater the weight loss, the more improvement.

You May Experience Changes With Your Skin

One thing many people aren't prepared for after dramatic weight loss is loose, sagging skin. When you lose weight, the excess skin occurs because your skin expanded to make room for the pounds you had at a heavier weight.

It won't go away overnight (or perhaps never) and it may leave you feeling disappointed with your body. Some individuals opt for body contouring procedures like a facelift, breast lift, or tummy tuck, but any surgery carries risks, and insurance will not cover these cosmetic surgeries in most cases.

Your Sleep Can Improve

Higher weight and fat loss are linked to improved sleep health (e.g., increased sleep satisfaction and sleep efficiency), according to a March 2021 International Journal of Obesity study.

In particular, being overweight puts you at risk of developing sleep apnea, a respiratory disorder that causes a person's airway to partially or completely collapse during sleep.

Fat deposits in the neck can block the airway and disturb your sleep, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). "Losing weight usually means there's less there to physically constrict your breathing and less soft tissue to block the upper airways," said Dr. Tsai.

You Could Boost Your Chances of Pregnancy

If you desire to and have been trying to become pregnant, weight loss can help increase your chances of conception.

A higher weight can affect fertility, according to the Office on Women's Health (OWH). Also, having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal condition associated with obesity, is one of the most common reasons for infertility in people assigned female at birth.

Losing weight can also help ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, since a person's weight during (and even before) has been linked to all sorts of health outcomes—like heart defects, premature birth, obesity, or high cholesterol per the OWH—for their children.

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