Effects of Yo-Yo Dieting on Health

Yoyo dieting refers to cyclical weight loss; losing weight and then gaining it again in a persistent cycle. This kind of dieting is particularly common among bodybuilders and athletes who train cyclically and seasonally for competition.

However, yoyo dieting is also an accidental process for many weight loss followers, who diet with dedication for a few months before a wedding or summer holiday and then eat like a horse after as a reward (also known as ‘calorie banking’. Clearly it isn’t good to starve yourself and then eat excessively.

Why is it Bad to Yo-Yo Diet?

This continuous shock to the system will affect your immune system and your digestive system. The organs in your body will have to work harder to cope with the extremities of your dieting and this is asking for trouble.

But yoyo dieting isn’t about such extremes. This comprises controlled weight loss at specific times whilst maintaining a healthy intake of food. When weight is put back on it is by eating high calorie healthy foods, not foods high in saturated fats or processed sugars.

Yoyo Dieting and Metabolism

People are generally under the impression that when you put weight back on after a yoyo diet cycle it is harder to lose again. This isn’t true. The majority of studies show that weight cycling does not affect the metabolic rate, which is the rate at which the body burns food for energy.

This might be the case, but what you do need to consider is that metabolism slows down as you age, therefore it may appear like weight is harder to shift if you carry on the same intake of calories. The secret is to lower your calorie intake as you age when putting weight back on as part of a yoyo diet. This will help you to speed up metabolism in your body again.

Returning to Your Original Weight and Muscle Mass

Contrary to popular belief, dieters usually return to their original weight and muscle mass after cyclical weight loss and gain. People who exercise during yoyo dieting are likely to put on muscle and this can be one reason for weighing less, even though you look slimmer and have achieved a lower percentage of body fat.

Abdominal Fat and Yoyo Dieting

There are concerns that this form of dieting will leave behind an increase of hard to shift abdominal fat. Again, this is a myth. Studies have shown that weight loss cycles do not show an increase in abdominal fat once a person has returned to their normal weight. That said, people who harbor more stomach fat genetically (apple-shape) will find it harder to shift.

Will Yoyo Dieting Cause Me Problems in Later Life

Some studies have indicated that continuous yoyo dieting may cause problems later in life such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and gallbladder disease. It is therefore suggested that maintaining a regular healthy weight with a modest calorie intake and regular exercise routine is the best solution for achieving a sustainable and healthy weight.

The human body is at optimum health when consistent routine is maintained. Putting on weight and losing weight is not a natural course of action and is alien to the human body. Although studies can’t conclude that cyclical dieting will definitely cause problems in later life, it is a possibility and a risk that should be avoided.


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