The danger of yo-yo dieting

Yo-yo dieting is dangerous – here are 7 major reasons why

Yo-yo dieting is probably one of the most common forms of dieting people unknowingly adapt to. Even if you don’t intend to, you might find yourself losing and gaining the same weight over and over again.

But you should be aware of the danger of yo-yo dieting.

Several studies prove it linked to risks in the long run. So even when it seems like nothing is happening now your body is dramatically feeling the impact and it will show in time.

Before understanding the danger of yo-yo dieting we need to understand what the word means.

Yo-yo dieting also goes by the name “weight cycling”. “Cycling” and “diet” in the same sentence may sound healthy but this one is not healthy at all.

In a yo-yo diet or diet cycling, a person loses weight over a short duration but only to put it back on again.

The second time around the weight gain can be even more than the original weight loss. Going through drastic measures to lose the weight only to gain it, later on, is the vicious and very real truth of yo-yo dieting.

What’s the problem with losing and gaining weight over and over again?

Oftentimes a person falls into this cycle unwittingly.

Many people will start with a weight loss diet that calls for extreme calorie-cutting or completely abstaining from certain food groups.

When you think about cutting out sugary foods it’s seen as a positive health move, right? The lower your intake of processed sugar the better.

However, when one adopts drastic measures it will come at a cost.

The problem with fasting or drastically cutting down on food for weight loss is that the body cannot cope with the sharp impact and then it starts feeling weak and fatigued.

One reason people gain the weight back is that it takes a great deal of willpower to sustain low intake of food over extended periods and eventually something has to give.

Often people go right back to eating the same as they did before the diet and the weight comes back with a vengeance.

The danger of yo-yo dieting

1. Your body thinks it’s starving due to skipping meals

Skipping meals or certain foods is not the same as fasting or intermitted fasting. Skipping meals is more of an option that leads to feeling hungry all the time.

The reason extreme dieting seems successful initially is because of the measures such as skipping meals.

Skipping meals makes it easier to lose weight. With rapid weight loss, you feel good, but at the end of the day, you’ll feel hungrier and start eating as much or even more than before.

Studies have shown that when deprived of food, the brain assumes that the body is going through a dramatic starvation phase or famine. In other words, the next time food becomes available the body will store more fat for an emergency.

2. A higher risk of heart disease in women

One would never assume this even remotely possible, but the factors at play in weight cycling can increase the risk of heart disease in women.

Some studies have shown that rapid weight loss and gain eventually puts women at risk of heart disease.

Gaining and losing weight on and off makes the heart work extra hard as opposed to maintaining a consistent weight.

In a study led by Brooke Aggarwal of the Columbia University Irving Medical assessing a group of 485 women aged between 20 and 76 the findings reflected. Women who lost and regained 4kg (10 pounds) each year (on and off) were at risk of heart disease. This was based on the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 to check their heart health score.   

The study showed that 29 of these women already had poor cardiovascular health and 82% of them had fewer chances of an ideal BMI.

3. It causes muscle loss

When the body loses weight it also loses muscle mass. However, it’s easier for the body to re-build up fat than it can regain lost muscle mass.

Through weight cycling, you can lose muscle mass easier because of losing weight so many times. This, in the end, will weaken the body because the muscles become weak and it may make the person easily prone to injuries.

Protein is great for building muscle, along with strengthening exercises.

4. It puts you at high risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease

Many people who experience weight cycling tend to gain weight on their belly. Stomach fat is associated with Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease according to studies reported by Medical News Today.

Women with a higher hip to waist ratio are at a higher cardiometabolic risk. This is a condition that greatly increases Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular (AC) disease [the hardening of the arteries] as well as Diabetes mellitus.

Type 2 diabetes is prevalent as a result of insulin resistance.

The body becomes resistant to insulin when yo-yo dieting and this signals the body to produce even more insulin to process blood sugar. However, when the body cannot break-down all the blood sugar, it is stored for long-term fat/energy reserves.

5. Increases bad cholesterol and blood pressure

Patients stuck on a yo-yo dieting cycle inevitably become a higher risk for diabetes and heart disease as we’ve mentioned.

The high risk is because the process of the body quickly losing weight only to quickly regain the same weight along with even more fat increases blood pressure. Weight gain generally increases the blood pressure, but “deep” belly fat gain greatly increases this. 

Blood pressure is harder to improve in a short period even when the patient maintains the same weight balance. When the damage is already inflicted on the body, it may take years to recover from it.

6. You’re at higher risk of gaining weight in future

Our bodies are intricately made with the ability to work and heal itself. However, certain lifestyles may cause long-term damage to the body, disabling it from functioning at optimum.

When you’re engaged in yo-yo dieting you make it hard for your body to “think straight”. One moment it feels as if it is starving and need more fat reserves, the next it seems as if it cannot process blood sugar properly.

Aside from risking heart failure, high blood pressure and diabetes is the reality that you might gain weight for the long-run.

The body becomes so accustomed to the on and off cycle or up and down experience, it no longer can shed the pounds as efficiently. This is because the metabolic rate slows down too.

7. Side effects even if you’re healthy

Many people fall prey to what society defines as beautiful. So when it comes to sporting a summer body, even healthy folks with a normal BMI will try to lose weight for aesthetic reasons.

As the weight comes off for the season, you may end up putting it back on in winter for that matter. Or you’ll lose the weight so quickly you may just gain it all back and more soon after.

This is how even healthy-weight people still fall prey to the weight cycling horrors. Like a vicious cycle of weight gain that never ends.

Extreme dieting has serious consequences.

Losing weight and keeping it off to help combat the danger of yo-yo dieting

The key to bounce back from yo-yo dieting is to avoid it altogether. With that said, the aim is to try to keep the same weight as far as possible.

If you’re not pregnant or medically challenged, then this is something that could work for you.

Natural sugar and vitamins

Diets are about eating a bit of this and a lot of that or cutting out something and replacing it with something else. Instead of following diet fads, simply eat healthier.

Fruit and vegetables are packed full of micronutrients and they will give you natural sugar as opposed to chocolate and other artificially sweetened products.

Fibre up

To be “regular” and keep up good gut health you need to make sure that you are getting the right amount of fibre in your diet. It reduces bloating which could falsely look like a fat belly.

Stay hydrated

Don’t say no to water. Water is extremely crucial for the body and the more you drink it, the better your body can function. Plus, you won’t always feel so hungry.

Eat a power breakfast

If you get protein in your breakfast (the most important meal of the day) it will help you to feel sustained for longer.

Also, remember that healthy fats lead to a greater sense of satiety than quick-digesting carbohydrates.

Say no to junk food

Try as best you can to steer clear from junk food. Most junk food is high in additives and trans fat which is bad for your heart and will put you at risk of diabetes and high cholesterol amongst others.

Don’t stop exercising

The worst thing to do is hit the brakes on exercise. Once you stop, it is hard to get back into the swing of it.

So don’t stop whatever you do, just keep going. You’ll see and feel that with time your body starts to feel lighter, healthier and stronger.

Don’t forget to rest and recoup

In a busy lifestyle, it’s hard to find the time to relax, yet this is one of the most crucial things above all when pursuing a healthier lifestyle.

Resting will decrease the chances of burning out and it will help your body to “heal” and in turn function better.

Closing thoughts to the danger of yo-yo dieting

Many people that fall into the trap of weight cycling and while this may seem as if losing weight is a good thing, maintaining the same weight is the true challenge.

With that said, it’s clear that to maintain a healthy life, mind, and body, it takes more than motivation. Motivation is a good tool to leverage during the process; however, the key is persistence.

If you want to avoid the danger of yo-yo dieting, you need to persist in keeping your weight at a constant as well as to keep up that healthy balanced diet.

These healthy habits go in hand with regular exercise. Exercise will not only help your body become stronger but will also help you to tone and become more sculpted with time.

Being in the best shape you’ve ever been is never a quick fix!

Have you been yo-yo dieting over the past few years?

Don’t feel bad, many people do even without realising it. The important thing is to make that change now. Start changing to live a better and healthier life every day!

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