Yo-yo dieting, also known as 'weight cycling', involves losing weight, regaining it, and dieting again such that the weight goes up and down like a yo-yo.
People generally lose weight on a restrictive calorie-deficit diet but are unsuccessful in maintaining long-term loss and gain back the weight. Then the cycle repeats itself.
This dietary pattern has several impacts on the body, which are discussed below.
How Yo-Yo Dieting Impacts the Body
Most studies have shown the negative impact of yo-yo dieting on health. People who have been gaining and losing fat over time have experienced the same. This kind of diet pattern may lead to:
1) Muscle Loss
Fat is regained more easily than muscle after weight loss, which can lead to more muscle loss over time, leading to decreased physical strength. That can be prevented with exercise, especially strength training, which helps gain muscles back. Eating enough quality protein can help reduce muscle loss.
2) Increased Body Fat Percentage
A studies suggest that yo-yo dieting can lead to an increased percentage of body fat. One in three dieters ends up gaining more weight. The weight loss phase can make them crave more food, which can lead to overeating and gain in fat percentage. People generally tend to crave junk food.
3) Increased Risk of Diabetes
During the weight gain phase, insulin level can go up very easily, which can lead to insulin resistance, which is the early stage of diabetes.
A few studies have shown that yo-yo dieting increases the risk of diabetes. Risk is the greatest in those who gain more weight after dieting. Increased belly fat is likely to lead to diabetes.
4) Increased Risk of Heart Disease
This diet pattern has been associated with coronary artery disease, a condition in which the arteries that supply blood to the heart are affected. Weight gain and especially fluctuations in weight increases the risk of heart disease.
5) Raised Blood Pressure
Weight gain and fluctuations in weight in yo-yo dieting increases blood pressure. These fluctuations can reverse the healthy effects of weight loss on blood pressure. Studies have found that those with a history of yo-yo dieting have had less improvement in blood pressure.
6) Can Increase Mental Health Issues
People with a history of yo-yo dieting often feel dissatisfied with their life and health and feel a sense of being out of control. Although that does not appear to trigger depression, anxiety or negative personality traits, one might feel hopeless or guilty.
7) Increased Craving for Junk Food
Fat loss leads to decreased levels of the hunger hormone leptin, which makes us feel full. Fat stores release leptin into the bloodstream. The decrease in leptin increases cravings, and people generally end up eating deep fried junk foods.
Yo-yo dieting involves phases of weight loss and gain in which a person follows a restrictive diet and loses fat and again ends up eating more unhealthy foods and gaining fat. This cycle repeats again, hence the name.
This weight fluctuation can lead to various health problems, like increased blood pressure and cholesterol level, risk of diabetes, fatty liver and heart disease. People with this kind of diet pattern are sometimes upset about the results and often complain about mental health issues.
Frequent fluctuations in weight can lead to muscle loss and increase in fat percentage, which can prove worse than slow weight loss. In most cases, the results are short-term and may lead to people being frustrated, hampering long-term goals.
People struggling with fat loss must follow a systematic plan to get their desired results and should take regular advice from health professionals to prevent these risks while losing weight.
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