26 October 2020

What is Yo-Yo Dieting?

Did you know over 25% of men and 27% of women are trying to lose weight today? What’s more, while there are multiple healthy ways of losing weight, such as exercising, various surveys show that restrictive dieting is one of the most common ways adopted by people trying to lose weight. Yes, the famous unhealthy pattern of dieting known as yo-yo dieting.

Unfortunately, yo-yo dieting is one of the main reasons most of us struggle with weight gain issues. Even worse, this form of dieting is borne from the confusion between calorie restriction and healthy eating –not knowing the difference between eating low carb foods and cutting out on fast foods and junk.

In this piece, we will look at what yo-yo dieting is and how you can stop it. Read on for more.

What Does Yo-Yo Dieting Entail?

Yo-yo dieting, also known as weight cycling, is the repeated weight loss-weight gain-weight loss cycle resulting from dieting. This dieting pattern causes your weight to go up and down over a small timeframe leading to weight issues such as obesity.

So how do you find yourself in this weight cycle?

Well, human beings are creatures of habit. Take, for instance, someone trying to lose weight who takes up dieting because they need to fit into their wedding dress in a couple of months. Chances are once their wedding is over, they’ll revert to their original eating habits; hence resulting in more weight gain.

There’s no single cause for yo-yo dieting; however, we can outline the process of the yo-yo effect using the following points;

  • During the course of yo-yo dieting, extreme diet restriction results in depression and fatigue, making the diet unsustainable.
  • Eventually, you revert to old eating habits but compounded with the emotional impact of failing to lose weight after sacrificing so much in your restrictive diet.
  • The emotional impact leads some people to eat more than they initially used to hence rapidly adding weight.
  • Weight regaining is further accelerated as a response to skeletal muscle’s high metabolic elasticity. This phenomenon is better described in what is known as the Summermatter cycle. The cycle explains the persistent reduction in skeletal muscles' energy consumption when you are on a yo-yo restrictive diet.
  • The food restriction produces an initial weight loss because of increased physical activity. Ultimately, however, skeletal muscles experience suppressed calorie burning to conserve the limited energy.
  • When energy is made available to the body, the initially adaptive program prompts energy store replenishment and weight gain.

This preferential catch-up fat process is stimulated by higher insulin levels than glucose levels in your blood. Additionally, satiety signals during the yo-yo dieting activate a rest state that hastens the regaining of adipose tissue. The overall effect is a regain in body weight and hence the yo-yo effect.

How to Stop Yo-Yo Dieting

Now that we know what makes up the yo-yo effect, here are two ways that exercising consistently can help you stop yo-yo dieting for good.

  • Exercising to increase energy consumption: One of the best-fronted solutions to weight cycling is exercising. Exercising counters the calorie-burning suppression in skeletal muscles. Regular exercises increase consistent energy expenditure, thus leaving no room for weight regain.
  • Exercising to replenish ATP, IMCLs and Glycogen: Exercising also counters yo-yo dieting by promoting glycogen, ATP and IMCLs turnover. Remember the accelerated physical activity? Yes, the same activity depletes intramyocellular lipids(IMCLs), ATP and glycogen in skeletal muscles, thus suppressing calorie burning. Therefore, replenishing these components – through exercise – eliminates the need to restore IMCLs and glycogen pools in muscles, which would otherwise add weight. It will interest you to know that a third of dieters end up weighing more than they did before starting restrictive dieting – according to a journal in the American Psychological Association. Besides, a third more dieters regain just as much weight as they lost.

Yo-yo dieting might seem to work at first, but that is just how it fools most people into attempting it over and over again. The best fitness decision you can make is to stay away from restrictive dieting but instead, eat healthily and start exercising.

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