Yo-yo dieting - also commonly called weight cycling - refers to repeated cycles of weight loss and weight gain due to going on and off different diets. Some might believe the weight gain or loss must be in significant increments like fifty pounds, but yo-yo dieting can also apply when it is between five to ten pounds. The weight cycles themselves vary, but they are usually shorter periods such as within a month or two. Yo-yo dieting puts a significant amount of strain on the body.
Increased Risk Of Weight Gain
Yes, yo-yo dieting can put individuals at an increased risk of gaining more weight. This often comes down to shocking the body with the cycles of dieting and stopping the diet, particularly since the body can gain weight a lot quicker than it can lose it. It is also important to note the diets associated with yo-yo dieting are usually considered ‘crash diets,’ which are the restrictive diets unsuitable for long periods. These crash diets result in increased appetite, creating a larger backswing when the diet is over, making the weight come back faster than most think. To curb appetite, avoid significant weight gain and larger backswings, instead look to portion control and more frequent small meals throughout the day.
Regain Fat Instead Of Muscle
When an individual gains weight back quickly, hence the repeated cycles of going on a diet, they tend to gain fat rather than muscle. Gaining healthy muscle is not a result of yo-yo dieting. It is the marker of healthy, lasting change. The speed at which the weight comes back does not give the body time to make it healthy. Furthermore, the fat gained back often turns to belly fat, which has numerous effects on long-term physical and psychological health.
The other major part of gaining fat back during yo-yo dieting is an increased risk of a fatty liver, which is when the body stores the excess fat in liver cells and is associated with other health issues. Avoid gaining fat by making healthier food choices - such as lean meats - and engage in strength-building exercises, especially for core muscles when belly fat is a concern.
Linked To Cases Of Type Two Diabetes
Belly fat and a fatty liver, both of which are common in yo-yo dieting, have been linked to an increased risk of type two diabetes. If belly fat surrounds the liver in excess, the insulin the pancreas creates cannot trigger a response from the liver, so the liver will not take and store the extra blood glucose for later. Patients who have fatty liver disease also exhibit numerous high-risk markers for type two diabetes, such as insulin resistance, higher glucose, and abnormalities in their cholesterol.
While a fatty liver is related to obesity, those who engage in yo-yo dieting substantially increase their risk for it, even if they are not considered obese, due to the speed at which individuals gain fat during yo-yo dieting. Turn to core and cardio exercises to help curb belly fat. Combining this with a sustainable diet helps the body recover after a period of yo-yo dieting. Just remember to stick with it!
Significant Negative Impact On Heart Health
According to studies conducted by the American Heart Association, yo-yo dieting has substantial negative influences on the heart, particularly among women within a normal weight range when the weight cycling began. Specifically, the studies reported the risk of sudden cardiac death for these women increased 3.5 times and the risk of coronary heart disease death rose sixty-six percent. The New England Journal Of Medicine conducted a study showing evidence indicating heart patients with the highest weight changes, when compared with those who maintained a steady weight, had increases of one hundred thirty-six percent for strokes, one hundred seventeen percent for heart attacks, and one hundred twenty-four percent for deaths.
A balanced diet and cardio exercise are two of the major backbones to heart health. Include more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, limit unhealthy fats, and control portion sizes instead of restricting major food groups. But yo-yo dieting does not just affect physical health.
Dramatic Decrease In Mental Health
The weight fluctuations resulting from yo-yo dieting increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, it creates an unhealthy relationship with the body and lowers self-esteem. Yo-yo dieters often link their self-worth to the way they look more closely than those who maintain a stable weight. While the effects vary between individuals, it boils down to the thought that when their weight is down, their life is going to be better. So when the weight comes back quickly, there is often a dramatic drop in positive emotions, often leading to severe bouts of depression and other mental health issues.
Visiting a licensed mental health professional helps many individuals who are experiencing mental illnesses like depression. Talking about why they started yo-yo dieting in the first place can help the counselor assess the situation and recommend a healthy course of action, such as continue counseling, visiting a dietician, et cetera. But even if it does not go to this extreme, there are still other psychological effects most experience with yo-yo dieting.
Frustration Regarding Weight Loss Goals
Many of the individuals who fall into yo-yo dieting have good intentions. In fact, some even start simply because they want to eat healthily, but go about it improperly and find themselves in this unfortunate cycle. As a result, yo-yo dieting causes a lot of frustration regarding weight loss goals because the weight just returns after the diet stops, erasing all of the hard work gone into losing the weight.
These crash diets associated with yo-yo dieting require a lot of willpower since they are very restrictive in what an individual can and can not eat. The weight loss might be short term, but the frustration lasts for quite some time. Healthy weight loss, and maintaining the weight loss, does not happen overnight. Have as much patience as possible. Choosing a sustainable diet instead of yo-yo dieting might take longer to show results, but these results will be lasting ones, and the frustration need not return.
Prevents Long-Term Lifestyle Changes
Crash diets are undoubtedly useful for getting the weight off quickly, but as yo-yo dieting shows, this is not a lasting change. In addition to all the effects already discussed, yo-yo dieting at its core prevents long-term lifestyle changes. Or, in other words, healthy changes. There is nothing wrong with an individual losing weight if they are considered obese or overweight. But the best way to go about this is to make a lasting lifestyle change, which means no yo-yo dieting. It involves designing a healthy, balanced, and above all sustainable diet in combination with the appropriate exercise regime so when the weight does disappear, it does not just come right back again.