Congratulations on joining the fitness craze and embarking on your weight-loss journey. You’ve undoubtedly set goals and objectives for yourself that you aspire to achieve. You’ve joined your neighborhood gym, paid your membership fee, and even hired a personal trainer.
Your diet has also improved as you are cautious of what you eat, counter-checking every morsel of food for unwanted calories, sometimes employing extreme diet restrictions to help achieve your desired weight faster.
Yet, your weight keeps fluctuating. One moment you have shed off all the extra pounds and are almost hitting your targets, and the next moment you have gained it all back. It gets frustrating. Do you wonder why your weight has more up-down movements than a mall elevator? Your fluctuating body weight has an explanation, and here is everything you need to know about it.
What Is The Yo-Yo Effect?
The Yo-Yo effect is also known as weight cycling or yo-yo dieting. Simply put, the Yo-Yo effect means the cyclic gain and loss of weight, similar to the up-down motion of a yo-yo. This process repeats over and over again and eventually becomes a vicious cycle. And it’s not just your weight that’s affected; your overall health takes a hit as well (1).
The yo-yo effect diet does not discriminate as it affects both men and women. About 30% of women and 10% of men have gone on a yo-yo diet and experienced the yo-yo effect (3). The yo-yo effect is often a result of dieting and extremely restrictive calorie intake.
Is yo-yo dieting dangerous? Well, to answer this question, let us look at the consequences of weight cycling. What happens to your body during weight cycling is what makes it dangerous.
Understand that the yo-yo effect may give you your desired weight and body but only for a short time. Even then, there are some health concerns associated with these diet traps and the yo-yo effect.
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Consequences Of The Yo-Yo Effect
Here are some consequences of weight cycling:
- Increased weight gain contributes to heart diseases, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes (14).
- You may experience gut health complications since such a diet impacts the good bacteria in your gut.
- The weight gain phase of this diet often increases your overall body fat percentage, sometimes to unhealthy levels (2).
What Causes The Yo-Yo Effect?
The reasons for weight cycling vary. Here are some of them:
- Unhealthy weight loss methods: Using weight loss pills, teas, and other questionable methods to lose weight contributes to the yo-yo effect. Lack of proper exercise may also lead to this effect. Although you may not feel the consequences after your first weight loss procedure, continuous use of inappropriate methods to lose weight puts you at risk of weight cycling.
- Restrictive diets: Diets that feature reduced calorie intake are a great way to lose weight. However, when the calorie reduction is significant, such a diet decreases your overall muscle mass, which signals your body to slow down your metabolism. Once you go off this diet, it may become difficult to continue losing weight due to reduced metabolic rates (4).
How To Avoid The Yo-Yo Effect And Lose Weight Safely?
Your weight loss goals are not so far off if you choose to get out of the vicious yo-yo effect cycle. We understand that weight loss can be extremely challenging and demands a total overhaul of your lifestyle, from your eating habits to your exercise schedules. Adopting a healthier lifestyle and a more rigorous fitness regimen will get you your dream body.
Avoid Skipping Meals
Skipping meals will not help you lose weight. On the contrary, it may make you gain more weight. How will it make you gain weight? When you skip a meal, your blood sugar decreases, making you feel tired, irritable and, sometimes, confused.
Such a scenario makes your body increase the production of cortisol, the stress hormone that leaves you hungry and stressed. Additionally, skipping a meal slows down your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight. Your body also goes into survival mode, causing you to overeat at your next meal (13).
Eat More Low-Calorie Foods
Following a diet such as a keto that is low in calories can help you lose weight safely (6). Be careful to follow a well-balanced keto diet that’s low in carbs and high in healthy fat, proteins, and vitamins. A slight deviation from this plan, and you risk having a keto yo-yo effect.
Additionally, find a way to maintain this diet, and if you have to stop it, do so gradually to avoid the risk of the keto yo-yo effect.
Exercise is still an important part of your regime, even if you choose to have a restrictive diet. Any weight loss regimen that doesn’t include exercise is bound to fail. Also, make exercise part of your lifestyle since a sudden stop puts you at risk of regaining all the weight you have lost due to your lower caloric expenditure.
Regular exercise is beneficial to you since it helps keep your Basal Metabolic Rate Higher and, in the process, boost your metabolism (7). An active lifestyle is necessary if you want to get rid of those extra layers of fat.
When you have achieved your desired weight and body size, keep exercising. Alternatively, you can reduce your workout sessions gradually without risking weight gain.
Avoid Stress And Have Enough Rest
To stay healthy and fit, you have to avoid stress. Stress has a huge effect on your overall well-being. When you are stressed, your body responds by increasing cortisol levels.
Apart from being a stress hormone, cortisol is also an appetite stimulant (12).
This explains why whenever you are stressed, you eat more comfort food that is high in calories. To make matters worse, the excess calories you consume when stressed appear to be preferentially deposited around your middle. You see, stress is denying you a chance to have a flat tummy.
Getting enough rest is also essential in your weight loss journey. Ensure you get enough sleep, about 7 to 8 hours daily. You need adequate recovery periods after all that exercise. Also, rest reduces stress. Do something relaxing such as watching movies or reading your favorite books.
Not sleeping enough makes it harder for you to maintain a healthy weight. It has also been linked to higher body mass index and weight gain (11).
You may notice that your appetite increases when you are sleep-deprived. Lack of adequate sleep causes your body to increase ghrelin production, which is a hormone that signals your brain when you are hungry (10).
Increase Your Water Intake
Drinking more water is also linked to reduced calorie intake. Compared to beverages and other soft drinks, water is virtually calorie-free; you, therefore, consume no calories when you drink it (8). Additionally, people who take water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages have up to about 8% lower caloric intake, so you might as well start drinking your water (5).
Healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle are necessary for your weight loss journey. To lose weight successfully and sustainably, you need to adopt healthy eating habits and include exercise in your regimen.
Remember that if your calorie intake is gradually and moderately reduced each day, eventually, your body will adjust to require fewer calories each day. You can get out of the yo-yo effect by staying committed to a strict exercise and healthy eating plan.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Consequences of weight cycling: An increase in Disease Risk (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Deep body composition phenotyping during weight cycling: relevance to metabolic efficiency and metabolic risk (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Diet, activity and other health-related behaviors in college-age women (1998, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of yo yo diet caloric restrictions and olestra on tissue distribution of hexachlorobenzene (2005, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review (2010, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Ketogenic diet for obesity: Friend or foe (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Metabolic determinants of weight gain in humans (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Plain water consumption is associated with lower intake of caloric beverage: cross sectional study in Mexican adults with low socioeconomic status (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Pre-meal water consumption reduces meal energy intake in older but not younger subjects (2007, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin and increased Body mass index (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sleep and obesity. (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih,gov)
- Stress, cortisol and other appetite related hormones: Prospective prediction of 6-month chages in food cravings and weight (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effects of skipping meals a meal on daily energy intake and diet quality (2020, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Weight cycling and its cardiometabolic impact (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)