Body & Fitness

The real reasons you need to quit yo-yo dieting

Quitting yo-yo dieting is an important first step to sustained weight loss.

Does this sound like you? You go on a diet, lose a few kilos, then before you know it, you’ve put the weight back on. So you go on another diet, lose a few kilos and the cycle continues.

Losing and gaining weight like this is known as yo-yo dieting and for some people, it’s a way of life. But this kind of weight loss can be bad for your health. If it becomes a habit, it can actually make it harder for you to keep the kilos off.

Here’s why we should avoid yo-yo dieting:

It can make us fatter

Our subconscious thinks food supplies are unreliable so it prepares for the next famine by telling our bodies to store fat – a bit like birds plumping up before winter. This is an evolutionary response that also makes us eat more after a period of restrictive eating – our body thinks it might be short of sustenance again. Research shows that people who yo-yo diet tend to gain more weight than those who never restrict their food intake.

If you crash-diet to lose weight, your metabolism slows down because your body worries it won’t have enough fuel to power itself

When you go back to eating normally, because your metabolism is still slow, you don’t burn off the excess calories you are consuming and you gain weight.

When you severely restrict calories, you don’t just lose fat, you can also lose muscle

When you eat normally again, the weight you gain is more likely to be fat than muscle. This further sabotages your efforts to keep the weight off – the more muscle your body has, the more calories you burn.

Every time you regain weight, your heart is put under stress

As a result, your cholesterol and triglyceride levels may rise, which can increase your risk of heart disease. A study of women in the US found those whose weight was considered to be within the normal range were 3.5 times more likely to die from sudden cardiac arrest if they frequently gained and lost weight, compared to those whose weights stayed steady. Fluctuating weight can also change levels of electrolytes and fluids in the body, which can result in potentially lethal heart arrhythmias in susceptible middle-aged women.

Restricting calories can wreak havoc on the hormones released by your thyroid

This in turn can lead to increased production of the stress hormone cortisol, which fuels appetite, making you hungry.

Frequently changing weight can also raise blood pressure

Gaining weight can mean you have to work harder to pump blood around your body and although blood pressure can drop again when you lose weight, if you keep yo-yoing, your blood pressure may not return to normal.

Your skin can suffer if you lose, then regain weight

You can end up with permanent stretch marks and sagging. Rapid weight loss puts more strain on the skin than losing kilos gradually.

Yo-yo dieting can also affect your dental health

People who drastically reduce what they eat produce less saliva, which is needed to help protect the teeth from acid. If you then return to eating a sugary or high-carbohydrate diet, you’re creating an environment in your mouth where acid-producing bacteria can thrive.

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