A high number on your bathroom scale, in most cases, equals a high risk for heart disease and the dangers of heart attack and stroke that come with it.
And while your doctor will probably advise you to slim down in order to protect your heart, all too often, that advice doesn’t come with an actual number of pounds you should lose to get the benefit of a healthier ticker.
Luckily, a new study from a team of researchers out of the Cleveland Clinic has you covered with the exact percentage of weight you need to lose to get heart healthy.
But the most surprising finding from the study has to do with the method of weight loss… and you’ll want to hold on to your hat for this one…
Surgical versus non-surgical weight loss
Researchers followed a whopping 7,201 people. Almost 80 percent of the patients had hypertension and elevated triglycerides and cholesterol, and about 31 percent were taking insulin to treat diabetes.
Out of that group, 1,223 patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes underwent metabolic surgery (bariatric or weight loss surgery). They were matched to 5,978 patients who received usual medical care.
The effects of weight loss were studied to identify the minimum weight loss needed to decrease the risk of death and of experiencing major adverse cardiovascular events.
And here is where it gets strange…
“Following metabolic surgery, the risk of death and major heart complications appears to decrease after about 5 percent and 10 percent weight loss, respectively. Whereas, in the nonsurgical group, both the risk of death and major cardiovascular complications decreased after losing approximately 20 percent of body weight,” said Ali Aminian, M.D., director of Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric & Metabolic Institute, and lead author of the study.
While all participants in the study who lost weight were able to improve their heart health and decrease their risks, people who achieved their weight loss without turning to surgery had to lose more to get the same level of health benefit as those who had surgery.
That means if you’re current weight is 220 pounds, and you choose surgery, you will need to lose 11 to 22 pounds to get back in the healthy zone.
On the other hand, if you go the natural weight loss route, with diet and exercise, your weight loss goal needs to be 44 pounds to get just as healthy.
Why the difference?
Steven Nissen, M.D., Chief Academic Officer of the Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic, and the study’s senior author explained, “This study suggests greater heart disease benefits are achieved with less weight loss following metabolic surgery than medical weight loss using lifestyle interventions. The study findings suggest that there are important benefits of metabolic surgery independent of the weight loss achieved.”
And previous studies do as well…
In fact, this research is a secondary analysis of a large study that showed weight-loss surgery is associated with a 40 percent reduction in risk of death and heart complications in patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity.
And before that, the groundbreaking STAMPEDE study showed metabolic surgery’s beneficial effects on blood glucose control.
The big question is why — and believe me, the researchers plan to get to the root of it. They are closely looking at physiological changes in the surgically modified gastrointestinal tract, the impact on hormone secretion and the microbiome to see if those changes contribute to the cardiovascular and survival benefits of metabolic surgery, independent of weight loss.
The decision to lose weight by taking the surgical route is one you should research and talk over with a trusted physician before making. It’s not without its own risks and everyone won’t qualify as a potential candidate.
Considering that the researchers are specifically looking at the gut microbiome and hormone levels of patients who’ve undergone the procedure to zero in on additional metabolic benefits, perhaps anyone dieting should do the same.
Extreme diets that completely remove entire food groups, like Keto (carbs) or very low- or no-fat diets, certainly have an impact on the gut and may impact other functions of the body, including hormone secretion. So keep that in mind when choosing a weight loss diet. Make sure you don’t choose a diet that cuts out balanced nutrition that may cause your health to plummet as well as your weight.
Editor’s note: The term “metabolic,” used in metabolic surgery above, is a reminder that conditions like hypertension, blood sugar problems, and obesity all have something in common: metabolic syndrome. But that’s not all they share. Find out why the insulin factor binds these diseases and leads to more. Click here for a preview!