Stop the Yo-Yo Dieting

April 16, 2018

I know when people want to lose weight the first thing they do is cut down on calories. Did you know the one thing people need to be doing when trying to lose weight is EAT? I know it’s hard to believe but you have to eat to lose weight. Your body has to have a certain amount of calories just for everyday living. There are several applications you can use to figure out how many calories you need and they can also help you track your food intake.

No matter which diet you try, just remember, diets don’t work. At least not in the long run. You can lose weight, but after a year at least 1 in 3 of us gain it back. After 5 years? Almost no one keeps it off. Doing a yo-yo diet can also have very harmful effects on our body. Here are some facts about yo-yo dieting.

Yo-yo dieting can slow your metabolism. Our fat cells make a hormone called leptin. It tells your brain when you have enough fat stored up, so as you lose weight, less fat means less leptin. This makes you hungry. Plus, your body slows things down to save energy which means you are not burning calories anymore. Once you quit the diet, you have an oversized appetite but you burn fewer calories. That’s partly why after several cycles of yo-yo diets, you might weigh more than when you started.

We want more muscle and less fat, but when you drop pounds from your body, you lose both fat and muscle. When you gain it back, fat gets built up first but your appetite stays in high gear until your muscle returns which means you keep adding fat, too. Oddly, this seems more of a problem for lean people than those who are overweight. Repeat the cycle over and over and you get the triple whammy of more weight and fat and less muscle.

Like I have stated before you only have to lose 5-7% of your body weight to see changes in your health. Same goes for adding a few extra pounds. You can increase your chances of harming your heart and becoming more resistant to insulin. Lose the weight and you mostly erase these changes but you don’t reset completely. It’s unclear what the long-term health effects the yo-yo weight loss & gain does to your body.

There has been found to be a link between stress and fat. Every episode of weight gain and weight loss can mess with how you feel about yourself. Those emotions might have an effect raising your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, when cutting calories that can increase cortisol in your body as well. The problem with having high cortisol levels in your body means you’re more likely to add fat around the belly, which raises your risk for chronic diseases.

In the short term, regaining weight stresses your heart and blood vessels. A large study showed that the more your weight goes up and down, the more you’re likely to have health problems. Diets are not the way to go. They are short-term thinking and they can really do more harm than good to the overall health of our bodies. If you want to be healthier just start watching your portions, eat for the nutrients, ask yourself “what am I getting out of my food”, and start MOVING regularly to keep the pounds off. There is no quick-fix when it comes to losing weight. Instead, think about how to make small changes in your eating and exercise routine that can become part of your lifestyle and you will feel better about yourself!

From the desk of Jill Spradlin, Fitness and Health Trainer Department Head