Let’s be real: Losing weight is hard. And sometimes, it can feel like you don’t see any results, no matter how hard you try. But the truth is that even if you don’t see the fruits of your efforts in the mirror (yet!), subtle changes are starting to happen in your body—even if you just lose 5 pounds!
That’s right: you don’t need to lose a dramatic number of pounds for your body to start to transform. Here are 13 things that happen to your body when you start shedding weight—some are surprising. And as you continue to lose weight, you’ll rack up the health benefits and see more noticeable differences.
1. Your Fat Cells Shrink
To lose weight, you take in fewer calories than you expend. But where does your body get the extra energy it needs? Your fat cells. “As your body starts to pull energy from your fat cells to make up for the energy from the food you’re not eating, your fat cells will shrink,” says Dr. Mike Roussell, PhD, and co-founder of Neuro Coffee. And if you need more incentive to keep the weight off, Rousell says that rapidly regaining weight can hyper-inflate your fat cells. “They become bigger than they were before you lost weight,” he says.
2. You’ll Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check
Shedding a few pounds may improve your body’s ability to dial into your blood sugar. “Eating less and exerting yourself more will lead to greater insulin sensitivity, which allows your body to better control and stabilize blood sugar levels,” says Roussell. Keeping your blood sugar levels balanced can not only help you avoid hunger pains but curb chronic diseases too.
3. You May Feel Hungrier
And it’s not just your imagination. “When you reduce your calories to lose weight, your body will release higher amounts of a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin tells your brain that you are hungry and could eat,” says Rousell. No wonder you’re always hungry when you try to lose weight!
4. You’ll Tame Inflammation
While inflammation is part of your body’s natural defense system, carrying extra weight can cause it to go into overdrive, leading to chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But researchers found that losing an average of six pounds decreased inflammation by tamping down the production of pro-inflammatory proteins. It also improved immune system function.
5. Your Metabolic Rate Changes
You know that your metabolism is the engine that drives calorie burn. When you start to lose weight, your metabolic rate will decrease because your body will need fewer calories per day to keep your body running. But those changes can be relative. “A 200-pound person who loses 5 pounds will have less of a metabolic impact than a 115-pound person who loses 5 pounds,” Roussell explains. “The severity in which you cut calories and increase exercise will also have an impact. Slower, more gradual changes will have less of a negative impact [on your metabolism].”
6. Your Joints Will Ache Less