Nutrition

Harmful effects of yo-yo dieting on our health

A huge problem that we face when dieting is the yo-yo effect! This happens when we repeatedly go through diets, lose weight and regain again the same weight (or even more). And it is a very common situation in which we struggle to maintain our goal weight!

But are you aware that the yo-yo dieting has harmful effects on our health?

This vicious cycle makes it increasingly difficult to lose weight and has a negative impact on our physical and mental health. 

It is very important to know these impacts, and ditch for good dieting and this vicious cycle! 

Here I present you some effect of yo-yo dieting on our health:

1. Increased appetite

Studies showed that people regain 35% to 65% of their lost weight within one year and almost all their lost weight within 5 years 1

This happens because while we are losing weight (in particular fat), the leptin hormone decreases, thus the body increases appetite and hangs on  to its energy storage. As a result, some yo-yo dieters gain back more weight than they lost.

In addition, repeated dieting cycles may lead to weight gain because our brain interprets the diets as short famines and urges the person to store more fat for future shortages.

2. Higher body fat percentage

Different research showed a relationship between yo-yo dieting and higher body fat percentage 2. When we go through different yo-yo dieting cycles, the body fat increases, as well as the belly fat, because fat is regained more easily than muscle mass.

This can make it even harder to lose weight in future.

3. It can lead to muscle loss

When we are dieting, the body loses body fat as well as muscle. After each yo-yo dieting cycle, fat is regained more easily than muscle, which over time leads to more loss of muscle 2.

Exercising and eating enough protein prevents this muscle loss.

4. Weight gain leads to fatty liver

Fatty liver (aka hepatic steatosis) is when the body builds up excess fat inside the liver cells. It can lead to liver failure (aka cirrhosis).

5. Harms your brain and gut health

Research showed that rats provoked to exhibit yo-yo dieting experienced accelerated weight gain 3. The study affirms that after chronic yo-yo dieting cycles there was a change in gut microbe populations. When the rats abandoned the diet, this change in gut microbe population accelerated weight gain. So under repeated famine, the body’s response seems to cause brain signals of hyper-hunger and gut microbe changes that makes the body regain weight.

6. An increased risk of diabetes

Some studies showed that yo-yo dieting increases the risk of diabetes, especially if we end up with a higher weight compared to before the diet 2.

7. An increased risk of heart disease

A study showed that weight gain increases the risk of heart diseases even more than being overweight 4.

Another study showed that yo-yo dieting is also associated with coronary artery disease 5

The risk of heart disease increases with weight gain and fluctuating weight. The greater the change in weight, the greater the risk.

In addition, weight gain from yo-yo dieting increases the blood pressure. 

8. It can cause mental stress

It can create a “diet mindset” in which we get too preoccupied with weight, always tracking calories and focusing on what you can or cannot eat.

Yo-yo dieting makes you feel out of control over our life and our health because we created a bad relationship with food.

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