What happens to your body on a Yo - Yo Diet?

Posted by Aarti Shah on October 10th, 2019

Yo-yo dieting is the process of losing weight, regaining it and then starting a new diet again. Women are more prone to following these diets so a nutritionist for women can help plan a sensible weight loss program to help lose weight and keep it off too. A number of people look out for quick weight loss programs to fix their weight problem. They starve themselves with low calorie diets and rejoice as the weight is shed at a fast pace. But as soon as they return to their old eating habits, the weight comes right back. Many people are struggling with yo yo diets as they follow fad diets, lose weight and then are back to putting on weight again.

Requests like “I want to fit into one size smaller for my wedding in three months” or “I want to lose 10 kgs in one month” are common at a nutritionist’s clinic. And after achieving the target, old habits slowly start creeping in and BANG - comes all the lost weight with it. Weight loss diets should be those that teach one how to lose weight healthily and help to keep it off for a long time. Short term starvation diets harm the health of an individual.

Body slows things down to save energy loss of muscle mass during dieting which causes the body to conserve energy. Once the diet is discontinued; the lost weight is regained because of an oversized appetite as well as fewer calories burnt. This is the reason why after several cycles of yo-yo diets, the individual actually weighs more than what was started with.

What are the health risks associated with yo-yo dieting?

The result of yo-yo dieting i.e. sudden weight loss or weight gain not only has an effect on waistline but also on long-term health.  

1. Higher body fat percentage:

A majority of studies showed that yo-yo dieting leads to a higher body fat percentage especially during the weight gain phase of yo-yo dieting when fat is regained more easily as compared to muscle mass. Over multiple yo-yo cycles, this might result in increasing body fat percentage. Several other changes might make it harder to lose weight. Higher body fat percentage increases the risk of fatty liver which changes the way the body metabolizes fat and sugar by the body.  

2. Increased risk for diabetes:

Fad diets being very low calorie diets involve eliminating entire food groups with skipping of meals. The risk is more in those who end up at a higher weight than before their diet. A 2017 study from Nutrition & Diabetes, which followed 4,234 people for 12 years and documented their weight changes, found that the greater the weight fluctuations, the more likely they were to develop type 2 diabetes. Rigid diets and over-restriction of calories might cause blood sugar levels to dip too low. These dips in blood sugar might increase craving for foods high in fat and sugar.   

3. Increased risk of heart disease:

Frequent weight gain and loss might increase blood pressure and increases the risk of coronary artery disease. The greater the change in weight, greater is the risk. According to a conference of the American Heart Association (AHA), preliminary research found that women who yo-yo diet as little as 10 pounds have a higher number of risk factors for heart disease than women who have never been on that weight loss-weight gain cycle.   

5. Hormonal imbalance:

Yo-yo dieting, including severe calorie restriction and dramatic dietary changes can increase the hormone cortisol which might increase risk of developing diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Restriction of calories also results in nutrient deficiencies which lead to dry skin, brittle hair and nails, and a crappy immune system. Dropping too many calories messes with hormones which in turn messes with health.  

6. Slow metabolism:

Over- restriction of calories leads to loss of lean body mass. Muscle is metabolically more active meaning a person with more muscle mass will burn more calories. Muscle loss slows down the metabolic rate making it difficult to lose weight.  

7. Constipation:

Since these types of diets restrict food groups there may be less fiber in the diet causing a disruption in the bowel movement which could lead to constipation.  

So, say a no to yo-yo diets. Rather than embarking on this weight loss-weight gain cycles which are proven to be harmful, eat a little less of everything at every meal in order to maintain a healthy weight. A nutritionist for women might help in preparing a balanced diet for a healthy weight loss.

Permanent weight loss requires a lifelong commitment taking in no more calories than you can use - a goal that's often reached by exercise, eating right and other lifestyle changes. These kinds of changes will prolong and improve overall quality of life, even if weight loss is slow or small. Weight loss programs should teach an individual to eat right and exercise regularly – more so, not to lose weight but to maintain lean body mass (which helps with weight loss).

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Aarti Shah

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Aarti Shah
Joined: December 26th, 2018
Articles Posted: 28

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