Dieting may lead to rapid weight loss but its effects could do you more harm than good in the long term. Here are some of the negative effects of yo-yo dieting and how you can avoid this harmful cycle.
It’s a dangerous cycle: severe dieting followed by rapid weight reduction, putting the weight back on, then falling back into the same pattern. It’s called yo-yo dieting or weight cycling. While you may achieve the goal of weight loss in the short term, the negative effects in the long term are not worth the health risks.
Health behaviour and obesity prevention expert Kelly D. Brownell of Duke Sanford School of Policy explains that yo-yo dieting can cause health risks that may contribute to death. “There are stronger and more consistent links between body weight variability and negative health outcomes, particularly… mortality from coronary heart disease,” Brownell’s study explains. Yo-yo dieting may also contribute to behavioural or mental disorders like “life dissatisfaction and binge eating.”
What Causes Yo-Yo Dieting?
Medical experts say yo-yo dieting has a lot to do with the mind and how it perceives weight loss. In particular, many yo-yo dieters see dieting as a high-stakes gamble where perceived failure leads to shame and isolation.
Cardiothoracic surgeon Mehmet Oz of Columbia University explains, “some dieters psychologically treat diets as an all-or-nothing ordeal. Once they deviate even slightly from a diet or healthy eating plan, they figure they might as well drop the whole thing… We mow through a pound of cheesecake, and we get fat again. The cycle continues.”
Other experts suggest that societal pressures and wrong emphasis on body shape may cause yo-yo dieting. “The emphasis should not be about ‘body weight’ or ‘body fat’ per se, but about motivation for a healthy lifestyle in relation to food and physical activity,” The Washington Post quotes physiology and nutrition expert Abdul Dulloo of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.
Negative Effects of Yo-Yo Dieting
Studies show that yo-yo dieting has negative effects not only on one’s physical health but also on one’s psycho-social wellbeing.
Regaining More Fat
The body has a built-in mechanism to regain muscles that are lost due to dieting, but what takes place instead is “fat overshooting.” The Washington Post explains, “The body wants to regain lost muscle, but regains fat first, so the drive to eat and slowed metabolism continue until muscle regain is complete… [which] can contribute to an overall increase in weight over time.”
Dieting can lead to feelings of nutritional deprivation. Sensations of hunger are naturally triggered in the body, and this is the point when dieters tend to overcompensate. Health.com explains that binge eating is a natural consequence of food denial. Bingeing leads to guilt and reverting back to the same vicious cycle.
Yo-Yo dieting puts a lot of pressure on your heart and blood vessels. Health.com reports that people who experience rapid changes in weight had “twice the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death.” For patients who are obese, dieting is of course advised as a health intervention but it is best to maintain the weight loss through proper nutrition and physical activity.
High Stress Levels
Stress can be elevated because of yo-yo dieting. That’s because the pressure of losing the weight can cause spikes in your cortisol level which is also known as stress hormones, explains web.md. “That’s a problem because high cortisol means you are more likely to add fat around your belly, which raises your risk for problems like diabetes.”
Isolation And Loss Of Self Esteem
Regaining weight can make dieters feel like they’ve lost a battle, says health.com. This can cause a massive loss of confidence, shame and even depression. When this happens, a person is more likely to retreat from the world, instead of reaching out to seek support or to talk about how to improve.
How To Stop Yo-Yo Dieting
Fitness experts insist that there are lots of benefits from achieving a healthy weight, but the key is to avoid yo-yo dieting. It is important to approach the goal of weight loss with the right mindset and perspective.
Lose Weight Slowly But Surely
Remove any pressure to lose a ridiculous amount of weight in a short period of time. Gradual weight loss will also help you to maintain your healthy weight in the long term. If you start becoming impatient with your progress, think only of the achievable and manageable steps you can do today, and stick with that.
Overhaul Your Mindset
Think about your health not only in terms of dieting and weight loss but also in terms of making wise decisions. Dietician and author Rebecca Scritchfield tells The Washington Post that this means being mindful of other health factors like physical activity, sleep habits, alcohol consumption and your food/restaurant choices, among others. This way, you refocus your perspective from weight loss to overall health.
Dr. Oz also reminds you to pursue health goals for yourself, not because of what other people think. The chances of success are higher when you do something because you’re genuinely looking after yourself, rather than proving something to the world. It is best to keep a small group of trusted people who will support you, not judge you.
Stop Emotional Eating
Be aware if you are reaching out for food because you are satisfying your hunger and nutritional requirements, as opposed to feeding your emotional needs. Simplysupplements.co.uk explains that we crave high-calorie, high-sugar foods because they relieve us of stress.
If your emotions are triggering cravings, practice mindfulness. Take deep breaths, stretch, take a short walk and centre yourself. Drink water, or reach for something healthy like fruits, vegetables or nuts.
Maintain Your Blood Sugar Level
The best way to keep your food cravings at bay is to maintain healthy sugar levels. That’s because hunger pangs are activated when sugar levels dip too low. Simplysupplements.co.uk explains the best way to keep sugar levels consistent is to reduce consumption of sugars and refined carbohydrates. Usual culprits are sodas and white flour. Instead, go for whole grain food products and fibre rich foods.
Put Variety Into Your Exercise
Physical activity is essential to good metabolism and maintaining weight loss, but enthusiasm is key in keeping up with your exercise regimen. Having a varied repertoire of exercises is essential in staying determined, recommends simplysupplements.co.uk. Balance intense workouts with lighter activities. Devote other days for muscle training which helps you burn more fat.
In conclusion, weight loss is a matter of health and wellbeing. The negative effects of yo-yo dieting will end up costing you more than its short-term gains. It’s best to pursue gradual weight loss with reasonable goals and safe methods, that way you will be more successful in maintaining its benefits in the long term.
I hope you’ve found this blog article helpful! If you’d like to beat the binge and stop yo-yo dieting forever, why not check out one of my fabulous courses and coaching sessions. I’d love to get to know you!
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