Fact: Small Weight Loss Can Have Big Results

Fitness // Tanya Paolucci // 12 October 2015

It may come as a surprise, but when it comes to weight loss, it’s the small changes that can make the biggest difference.

Studies have shown that a loss of just five per cent of total body weight can result in significant health benefits, including a reduction in the risk of developing heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. With these dramatic results in mind, 12WBT Nutrition Lead Jenn Madz says it’s a change that is certainly worth making.

The Benefits of Losing Weight

“Losing 5-10 per cent of your total body weight is not very much. For an average 70 kg person that’s between five and seven kilograms, but it is enough to get those risk factors down,” she says. “The major risks in terms of cardiovascular disease are blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. When you think about the longer term health benefits, the weight loss is quite small.”

While losing 5-10 per cent of body weight is an achievable goal for most, Madz says sustaining that weight is just as important as the initial loss. “Of course the improvements do accumulate as you lose more weight,” she says. “However, consistency in having made small changes to dietary habits and moving more every day can still have positive health benefits without the need to lose a huge amount of weight. The lifestyle habits of a nutritious diet and active living style are seen to be as important to weight loss itself. ”

How to Lose 5-10% Of Your Body Weight

So what does it take to achieve 5-10 per cent weight loss? Madz offers three tips to help make small sustainable change for life:

1. Make Sensible Choices

Making sensible choices, or simple swaps from full fat to reduced fat can assist weight loss.

Madz suggests changing full-cream milk to reduced-fat milk and replacing processed foods for more vegetables, fresh fruit and other foods from the five food groups like wholegrain breads and cereals, lean meat/fish/poultry or alternatives like legumes and tofu. And remember to drink plenty of water!

2. Reduce Portion Sizes

If you are tuning up your eating habits, assessing your portion sizes is a great place to start.

Madz suggests people trying to lose weight should carefully assess their portion sizes, and make sure they are eating to meet their energy needs.

For example, a healthy dinner plate should include:

½ plate: Vegetables of the green leafy kind, like salad, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, spinach or Asian greens.

¼ plate: Protein, such as fish, lean chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, kangaroo or beef.  A serving of any meat should be around 100g (raw weight) per person and about the width and thickness of your palm. For fish – this is about 115g. Vegetarian? Try two eggs or one cup of beans.

¼ plate: Carbohydrates, including whole grain pasta, rice, quinoa, noodles or starchy vegetables like a medium potato.

3. Get Moving

Moving more is also important in weight loss success.  Start small and work your way up to the recommended 2.5-5hrs of moderate activity every week.

For those who struggle to find time to go to the gym, Madz recommends that people make the most of opportunities to do incidental exercise. “It’s about getting up and moving more. Even small things like taking the stairs at work or getting off your bus an extra stop down the road, it all counts,” she said.


Blackburn G. (1995). Effect of degree of weight loss on health benefits. Obesity Research 3: 211S-216S. Reference for 10%: NIH, NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Available online (PDF-1.25Mb)


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Meet the Author, Tanya Paolucci

Tanya is the Content, Community & Social Media Manager at 12WBT. Read author's full story here

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