Research: Substantial fat loss may lower risk of heart disease in normal weight individuals

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Substantial fat loss reduces inflammatory markers for cardiometabolic disease in normal-weight individuals

Central Obesity

Central Obesity

I know after reading the title, you are asking yourself the question “How can someone be of normal-weight and safely lose body fat?”  The amount of visceral fat in athletes and active folks will surprise you.  Also, the question is can someone be of normal-weight and still have too much fat and the answer is absolutely “yes”.  If you have a low amount of muscle mass and are very inactive, you will accumulate fat in the midsection and around your organs.  This is called viceral fat or central obesity and the accumulation of fat, especially in visceral area, is consider to be a significant risk factor for several chronic diseases such as diabetes type 2 and heart disease.  

It is believed that this risk is tied to an altered cardiometabolic homeostasis or change in the metabolic equilibrium from a healthy efficient metabolism to one that is out whack and promotes infamation that damages the body.  Researchers, in a recent study[1], studied how intensive long-term weight loss and subsequent weight regain affect physiological changes, by interrogating the lipid metabolism and white blood cell transcriptomic markers in healthy, normal-weight individuals. Basically, the researchers looked at the effects of weight loss and regain on the inflammation that makes you are risk of these diseases.  

The study examined 42 healthy, young, normal-weight female athletes, of which 25 belong to the weight loss and regain group, and 17 to the control group. Participants were evaluated, and fasting blood samples were drawn at three time points: at baseline; after the weight loss; and after the weight was regained. Following the weight loss period, the diet group experienced approximately a 73% reduction in visceral fat mass which was accompanied by similar decrease in markers of increased risk of inflammation and cardiovascular disease. This occurred even though these values were already at favorable levels in these participants.  Most of the observed beneficial changes in visceral fat mass, and metabolomic and transcriptomic profiles dissipated.

The bottom line:  Lowering abdominal or visceral fat should lower your cardiometabolic risk even if you are of a normal weight.  Overall, the beneficial anti-atherogenic effects of weight loss can be observed even in previously healthy, normal-weight individuals.  If you are above 18% for males and 25% for females, I recommend that you try to lower your numbers.   There is no reason to believe this would not translate to males or non-athletes.  


H. V. Sarin et al., “Substantial fat mass loss reduces low-grade inflammation and induces positive alteration in cardiometabolic factors in normal-weight individuals,” Sci Rep, vol. 9, no. 1, Mar. 2019 [Online]. Available: 10.1038/s41598-019-40107-6″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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