The effects of “yo-yo” diets - South Yorkshire Times

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ISLE personal trainer Sue Taylor (pictured) continues her monthly Body Matters column which focuses on the effect of "yo-yo" dieting.

Have you/do you:

l Say on a Friday "Diet starts again on Monday!"

l Never make it more than a few weeks on a diet (often only days)

l Start a diet really motivated only to be absolutely starving by day 3 and 'fall off the wagon'

l Tried every 'faddy' diet around and still haven't lost weight in the long term?

Then it could well be that you are in fact a 'yo-yo' dieter. Not good!

Here are five reasons why you should really put an end to all those miserable cycles of weight loss and regain.

What are Yo-yo diets?

Yo-yo dieting is the repeated pattern of losing body fat then gaining it back through episodes of diets. Each cycle, the fat loss or gain can be anywhere ranging from 2kg to 20kgs or more. Any diet that includes bouts of starvation, missing meals, cutting out whole food groups entirely, or very low calories produces the yo-yo effect.

Reason 1 – Yo-yo weight loss includes muscle loss.

Very low calorie diets or crash diets cause hunger to set in, triggering the body to break down lean muscle to access the nutrients the body needs.

In other words, the amount of body weight you have lost does not all come from body fat. In fact the drop in weight is mainly due to water and muscle loss. Less muscle = a slower metabolism which leads us onto reason 2.

Reason 2 – Yo-yo diets wreck your metabolism.

Whilst the initial drastic weight loss may seem like the diet is working, yo-yo dieters will soon experience a 'plateau' and the rapid weight loss stops.

This plateau is the result of your body adapting to what you are doing – starving it of the correct nutrients.

With less calories coming in and less muscle mass in the body, the body reacts by going into 'starvation mode' and starts to conserve energy and fat.

Less energy is burnt and the metabolic rate slows down, so now you have to eat fewer and fewer calories to lose weight making it harder and harder to maintain your new figure.

Therefore, you will inevitably find you are piling your weight back on and sometimes more, resulting in reason 3.

Reason 3 – Yo-yo diets make you put more weight on in the long term.

Yo-yo dieters tend to regain all the weight lost and some more every time they lose weight and regain weight. This is obviously the exact opposite of what they want to achieve.

When normal eating habits resume the body has reduced capability to burn the excess calories due to your slowed down metabolism and weight is rapidly gained. 

What's worse, your new body profile will have a higher proportion of fat because you have lost all your lean muscle and gained a whole load of fat as you've piled the weight (and more) back on.

Reason 4 – If you regain the lost weight it will be even harder to lose it again.

Due to reason 3, a person who repeatedly loses weight only to put it back on is likely to have a cumulative gain in body fat percentage plus your body's metabolism has slowed down in order to store fat.

Hence, with each dieting episode, the body's metabolism becomes less efficient and the severe calorie restriction further causes loss of muscle tone, which again means a slower metabolism.

Each successive attempt to shed off those extra pounds becomes more difficult, if not impossible.

Reason 5 – Repetitive weight loss and regain has unhealthy side effects.

Yo-yo dieters often feel lethargic, have a weak immune system and a higher percentage of body fat and tend to be in poor health. Due to multiple unsuccessful crash diets, they may also experience frustration, loss of concentration, depression, irritability and insomnia.

In fact, each time you lose weight and regain it, fat in your body actually redistributes its self.

It migrates from the thighs and butt to the belly (where studies have found a link between tummy fat and diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and high cholesterol).

To make matters worse, some studies also suggest that those who chronically lose and regain weight have increased risk from certain health problems including heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and gallbladder disease.

Breaking the cycle of yo-yo dieting can be difficult and many people really do need support.

Following a healthy 'diet' and exercise plan that you can actually realistically stick to and continue as part of a healthier lifestyle is key to success. That way, you will get the results you want, and be a whole lot healthier in the process.

l Our next guaranteed results bootcamp kicks off with a free coaching week on October 10. The full 28 day camp starts on October 17. We have venues in Epworth, Scunthorpe, Broughton and Bawtry.

Visit Isle Lose It for more details.

30 Sep, 2011

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