Alternative names: Weight cycling
Yo-yo dieting is the repeated cycle of weight loss through dieting, followed by the regaining of that weight.
Yo-yo dieters often take calorie restriction to extremes (under 600 calories a day), leading to considerable weight loss and, therefore, "success". As the diet continues, however, depression, fatigue and other negative effects set in, making the diet impossible to sustain for most people. The dieter usually reverts to their old eating habits, often consuming more than they did before the diet and thus regaining all the weight they lost. The dieter then wishes to lose the regained weight, and the cycle repeats.
When food is restricted, the body reduces energy expenditure as part of its 'starvation response'. When food once again becomes available, the body is still in 'energy conservation mode' and works hard to replenish its energy stores, leading to rapid 'catch up' weight gain in the form of fat.
A better approach to dieting is to slowly and consistently lose weight over a long period of time, not losing more than 1 or 2 pounds (0.5 to 1kg) a week.
In order to reverse existing damage from yo-yo dieting:
The American Psychological Association reviewed 31 diet studies and found that, after 2 years of dieting, almost one-third of dieters weighed more than they did before they began the diet.
When the body doesn't have the necessary calories to function at full capacity, this can lead to limited brain function, tiredness, fatigue and irritability.
Low-calorie diets lead to muscle wasting. When used as a substitute for proper diet and exercise, yo-yo dieting can lead to the loss of both body fat and muscle mass: weight-bearing exercise is required to maintain muscle. The repeated loss of muscle mass and subsequent rapid weight gain in the form of fat alters the body's fat-to-muscle ratio, one of the more important health risk factors for the onset of chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease and Type 2 diabetes.
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