Bid farewell to diabetes, breast cancer, heart disease, and more…
I’ve dedicated my life to helping people lose weight. And I’m often referred to as a “weight loss doctor.” But my goal isn’t to make you skinny. It’s to make you healthy, pure and simple.
And it just so happens that keeping your weight in check is one of the most effective ways to do just that. Which means that, really, all doctors should be “weight loss doctors.” (Though I certainly don’t need to tell you how deficient the mainstream medical profession is in this department.)
It’s a shame. Because if more people understood the power of small but consistent lifestyle changes, we could reverse half a dozen epidemics practically overnight.
It might sound like a bold claim, but it’s backed by hard science. Take a look…
Ten percent is all it takes
I tell you all the time how weight loss can reverse Type 2 diabetes. And research bears that out.
Studies show that intensive dieting can lead 90 percent of recently diagnosed diabetics (and 50 percent of those with longstanding diabetes) into complete remission within a couple of months.
But here’s the message you don’t always hear: It doesn’t take a huge weight loss to conquer diabetes. In fact, if you can lose just ten percent of your body weight within the first five years of diagnosis, your chances of success are just as good.
At least, that’s what researchers at the University of Cambridge found. They analyzed data from a cohort of nearly 900 newly diagnosed diabetics between 40 and 69 years old. And they noted that 30 percent of these patients were in remission by the five-year follow up period.
But the newly diagnosed diabetics who lost ten percent or more of their body weight in that time frame more than doubled their odds of remission, compared to those who merely maintained their weight.
For a 200-pound person, that would mean losing just 20 pounds—a very realistic and achievable goal for just about anyone. But it’s not just diabetes that you can dodge by dropping a few pounds…
Cut your breast cancer risk, even after 50
We already know that obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer after menopause. But what hasn’t been clear is whether dropping weight after 50 is enough to mitigate this risk… until now, that is.
Researchers looked at data from ten prospective studies, featuring more than 180,000 women over the age of 50. They analyzed weight changes over the course of a decade, using assessments upon enrollment, after five years, and then again four years later.
Ultimately, they found that women who managed sustained weight loss enjoyed a lower risk of breast cancer than women who didn’t—and not surprisingly, the larger the loss, the greater the reduction.2
Compared to women whose weight didn’t change:
- Women who lost between five and 10 pounds enjoyed a 13 percent lower risk
- Women who lost between 10 and 20 pounds enjoyed a 16 percent lower risk
- Women who lost more than 20 pounds enjoyed more than a 25 percent lower risk
In other words, more is better—but any weight loss is a whole lot better than nothing. And previous research on the impact of weight loss on disease-fueling inflammation might help to explain why.
Small losses slash inflammation in half
This study appeared in the journal Cancer Research. And it involved nearly 450 postmenopausal women—all either overweight or obese.
One group was assigned to a reduced-calorie diet. Another group was assigned to moderate-to-vigorous exercise, like brisk walking, for 45 minutes, five days a week. And the final group was assigned a diet-and-exercise program.
One year later, the researchers checked in. They found that women who lost just five percent of their body weight had improved inflammation markers. In fact, the reduced-calorie diet group saw a 36 percent decrease in C-reactive protein (CRP).
But the diet-and-exercise group fared even better. Their CRP levels dropped by 42 percent. And their levels of interleukin-6, another marker of inflammation, improved by a 25 percent.
Which means that if you weigh 200 pounds, losing just ten pounds could cut your levels of inflammation nearly in half. And, in turn, reduce your risk of cancer. Not to mention every other disease with links to inflammation—and perhaps most notably, heart disease.
In fact, another study of overweight and obese Japanese subjects showed that losing just three percent of your body weight is all it takes to minimize such risks.
This research showed significant improvements in just about every area imaginable—including triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, HbA1c, and blood pressure. Even with the most modest losses.3
Achieving weight loss for life
Of course, you knew I was going to take issue with something here. And in this case, it’s the headline-grabbing claim that you can beat diabetes (or any other disease) without “intensive lifestyle interventions.”
No, crazy crash diets aren’t necessary to reclaim your health. But I can’t imagine a more “intensive” lifestyle intervention than changing the way that you eat and move every day for the rest of your life.
And make no mistake… if you want to keep the weight off, that’s exactly what you have to do. Otherwise you risk boomeranging right back where you started… or worse.
A team of Tufts researchers recently used data from the Look AHEAD trial—a controlled clinical study that looked at the link between weight loss and heart disease risk among patients with obesity and diabetes—to make this important point.
They found that, after a year-long weight loss program, subjects who actually kept the weight off had better levels of HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure than their peers who gained the weight back over the next three years.5
In other words, regaining the weight completely reversed the benefits of previous weight loss. Which is hardly a groundbreaking conclusion, I’ll admit.
Still, it does underscore the point that good health requires full commitment to making more good choices than bad—to eat the right foods, to get regular sleep, and to move as often as you can—consistently, every single day.
Because when all is said and done, a little really does go a very long way.
- Dambha-Miller H, et al. Behaviour change, weight loss and remission of Type 2 diabetes: a community-based prospective cohort study. Diabet Med. 2019 Sep 3.
- Teras LR, et al. “Sustained weight loss and risk of breast cancer in women ≥50 years: a pooled analysis of prospective data.” J Natl Cancer Inst. 2019 Dec 13.
- Imayama I, et al. “Effects of a caloric restriction weight loss diet and exercise on inflammatory biomarkers in overweight/obese postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial.” Cancer Research, 2012; 72(9): 2,314-2,326
- Muramoto A, et al. “Three percent weight reduction is the minimum requirement to improve health hazards in obese and overweight people in Japan.” Obes Res Clin Pract. 2014 Sep-Oct;8(5):e466-75.
- Berger SE, et al. “Change in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors Associated With Magnitude of Weight Regain 3Years After a 1-Year Intensive Lifestyle Intervention in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: The Look AHEAD Trial.” J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 Oct 15;8(20):e010951.