Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
Most people come to the Primal Blueprint because they want to lose weight. Ask any purveyor of a specific diet and they’ll say much the same thing. The majority of people are interested in dropping body fat, looking good naked, and fitting into their clothes. The interest in overall health, fitness, and lifestyle tends to develop organically out of that. Come for the weight loss, stay for the blue-blocking goggles.
There’s a tendency to view weight loss as superficial compared to the other stuff. That’s a mistake. Weight loss isn’t just about belt notches and positive experiences with mirrors. It confers measurable and, most importantly, tangible benefits to health, happiness, and daily functionality almost immediately. Fat loss, it turns out, isn’t a flighty pursuit. It solves a lot of serious problems and makes some really cool things happen.
Crippling osteoarthritis is relatively rare, but almost everyone has a joint that creaks, pops, aches, or occasionally flares up in pain. Weight loss improves that pain by reducing the forces acting on the joints when you walk (though increasing your walking speed attenuates this, somewhat), with each lost pound reducing forces acting on the knee joint by a factor of four. Patients with psoriatic arthritis who lose weight report less inflammation and more activity; same goes for osteoarthritis patients. All that said, people with joint hypermobility may experience increased pain with weight loss.
This one depends on the manner in which you lose weight. If you’re starving yourself, forcing a low-fat, high-carb diet, willing yourself to reduce calories despite your physiology clamoring for more food, you’ll be hungry—maybe hungrier than you can even handle. If you go Primal on the other hand—higher fat, lower carb, plenty of protein, a focus on nutrient density—you probably won’t be very hungry. You’ll become fat-adapted, which lets you coast effortlessly for hours between meals. Instead of snacking on whatever garbage they put out in the office, you snack on your adipose tissue.
Weight loss seems to improve sleep quality, whether it’s from diet alone or exercise and diet, especially if the weight comes off the belly. Even moderate weight loss remains the best treatment (and preventive measure) for sleep apnea, in many cases outright curing it.
That’s the real secret about exercise and weight loss: The relationship is reversed. While the right kinds of exercise can certainly make fat loss more effective and help you retain lean mass during dieting, most people are surprised to discover that losing weight makes them want to move. One reason is that a lighter body makes movement less onerous. You can do more things without those extra 40 pounds. You can climb higher, hike longer, do more pullups and pushups, jump farther, run faster. Physical exertion is more fun and rewarding when you’re not lugging around extra weight. As we all know, intrinsic reward makes you more likely to stick to a workout plan.
There are many reasons why being overweight or obese impairs the libido. You lose self-confidence. You feel less attractive than you used to. There may even be logistical difficulties. And on a physiological level, the biological mechanisms that make sex happen don’t work as well when you’re overweight or obese. Testosterone (which affects libido in both men and women) plummets. Endothelial function suffers, impairing necessary blood flow to certain erogenous regions of the body. When you start losing weight, your sex hormones normalize. Blood flows once again. Your libido returns. And let’s be blunt here. You’ll feel lustier (and attract it in return) when you’re at a healthier body weight—not “skinny,” but healthy.
Obese adults with mild cognitive impairment who lose weight enjoy better cognitive function. This may not hold true in all situations. College wrestlers who drop weight quickly, for example, suffer (temporary) cognitive impairments (mood and memory), and older adults who lose weight in the later years are at a greater risk for mild cognitive impairment; in that population, weight loss tracks with Alzheimer’s progression. I suspect these older adults developing Alzheimer’s are losing more lean mass than fat mass. By and large, studies show that fat loss improves your brain health.
You’re suddenly tapping into a virtually inexhaustible reservoir of energy—your own body fat. When your insulin is controlled, and you can release and burn fat as needed, your energy levels are remarkably consistent. If you’re losing body fat, you’re burning body fat for energy, and it’s a nice clean burn. The steady release of energy you experience with fat loss is a far superior experience to the ups-and-downs of regular glucose infusions.
Studies show, with some equivocation, that weight loss improves employee productivity. Part of this is psychological. You look better, feel healthier, and that overall improved mood translates into more confidence and better output at work. But it’s also physiological. You’re sleeping better. You have more energy. You think more clearly.
Research consistently shows that weight loss improves biomarkers across the board. You may not feel your blood pressure improving, your LDL becoming less oxidized, the dimming of your inflammatory status, or the large number of HDL particles coursing through your veins, but you’ll notice your health markers improving on lab tests and doctor visits.
You might notice a common thread running through all these changes: Many of them both perpetuate and are perpetuated by weight loss. You lose weight, and exercise is more fun and your joints don’t hurt as much, so you exercise more, and lose more fat and gain more muscle. You lose weight and suddenly your sex life improves, so you stop satisfying your pleasure centers with junk food, and you lose even more fat. Better sleep begets a lower desire for junk food, better insulin sensitivity, and faster workout recovery, allowing further fat loss.
Fat loss gets the ball rolling. Everything begins improving downstream of those first few pounds lost. Losing weight makes all the other positive changes to your healthy lifestyle easier, more effective, and more sustainable.
What are your favorite “side” symptoms of losing weight? What benefits weren’t mentioned in today’s article? Let me know down below.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care.