How To Avoid The Yo-Yo Dieting Effect

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

For many years, people have believed that yo-yo dieting was worse for your health than simply not dieting at all if you happen to be overweight. However, recent studies have shown that these long-held beliefs may not be entirely true. If you have trouble sticking to your diet – as so many people do – you don’t have to feel as though a healthy lifestyle is completely out of reach. Read this article for an in-depth look at the relationship between yo-yo dieting and obesity.

What Is Yo-Yo Dieting?

Many people find that their experiences with dieting vary from highs to lows, depending on how well they’re able to stick to their diet plans. This cyclical routine with dieting has become a common experience for many people, so much so that it has earned the nickname “yo-yo dieting” in reference to the up and down motion of a yo-yo. Changes in weight often accompany these changes in eating habits. Dieting helps the individual lose weight, but when they are unable to stick to the diet in the long-term they begin to gain weight back. Then, the cycle begins again when they attempt to lose the weight by starting a new diet.

This experience isn’t uncommon. In fact, those who are tempted to follow the latest diet trends tend to find themselves stuck on this up and down routine of weight loss and weight gain due to their dieting habits.

How Yo-Yo Dieting Affects Weight Loss

According to MSNBC, about two-thirds of Americans are overweight and obese. For these individuals, keeping weight off on a long-term basis can be quite difficult. However, since they are often the ones that are trying the hardest to lose weight for their health, they are also very susceptible to yo-yo dieting. Fortunately, recent studies are showing that even if people who are overweight and obese are not able to keep the weight off permanently, yo-yo dieting and its up and down effects on their weight may be better for their health when compared to not dieting at all and keeping a steady weight.

Yo-yo dieting does typically result in weight loss, even though it is only short-term. However, that temporary reduction in weight can have great health benefits for the body. Because fat cells produce hormones that can increase inflammation and blood sugar levels, any reduction in weight is good for those who are overweight or obese. That temporary weight loss will result in a temporary reduction in the production of those hormones.

These results prove that even a small amount of weight loss can have a significant impact. In a 2002 study, for example, people at risk of developing diabetes were carefully observed as they attempted to lose weight. Researchers found that just a 7 percent reduction in body weight reduced the chance of developing diabetes by 58 percent. Those results remained even for those who were only able to maintain about 4 percent weight loss over time.

Tips For Sticking To Your Diet

Though people who are overweight or obese should always work towards reaching a healthy weight, even small steps go a long way in improving their health. The following are a few tips for dieting successfully and maintaining weight loss to avoid the yo-yo effect:

  • Don’t use crash diets. The same applies to any diet which promotes dramatic, sudden weight loss. Healthy weight loss will be gradual and shouldn’t involve fasting or consuming only liquids for days at a time.
  • Be wary of trend diets. These often give people a sense that their eating habits will only have to change for a short amount of time in order to get the desired results. Your diet plan should be reasonable for a permanent lifestyle change, not a temporary plan of giving up major food groups or eating only pre-packaged meals.
  • Set realistic goals. Don’t challenge yourself to lose a huge amount of weight in a short time, especially if you’re a notorious yo-yo dieter. Instead, set a manageable weight loss goal and vow to keep those pounds off once you lose them. Once you’ve maintained that goal weight, you can focus on losing additional pounds. According to Women’s Health, a healthy weight loss rate is to lose about 10 percent of your weight in 6 months.
  • Change things up. If you find yourself slipping on your diet plan, look for new things to eat to switch things up. Many people find they get stuck in a rut of eating the same healthy things day after day. A little research and trying out new recipes in the kitchen can go a long way in keeping you on track with your diet.
  • Stay active. Don’t focus all your energy on just your food choices. You also need to exercise if you want to lose weight and keep it off. Even on days when you don’t feel like it, make an effort to do some kind of physical activity, even if it’s just a 30-minute walk.
  • Track your results. Keep a record of what you’re eating each day and how your weight is changing. You’ll be able to better identify bad eating habits this way. Plus, it provides motivation to stick to your diet when you have to weigh in at the beginning or end of each day.
  • Get support. Join a group or share your weight loss goals with friends. Getting support from others is a great way to diet successfully.  It also helps provide motivation so that you always have positive news to share when you meet up with your friends or support group.


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