Yo-yo dieting, also know as weight
cycling, is a repeated loss and gain of body weight due to excessive
dieting. The dieter is initially successful in the pursuit of weight
loss but is unsuccessful in maintaining the loss long term. And thus
begins to regain the weight back. The dieter then seeks to lose the
regained weight, and the cycle begins again.
75-90% of the people who lose weight on a
diet regain the pounds after their diet ends. So cites a study in the
nutrition research clinic of Baylor College School of Medicine, 95% of
people who lose 18kg or more were the most likely to regain back. This
back and forth weight gain and loss, a typical unhealthy pattern has
been termed the 'Yo-Yo Effect'.
Research indicates that Yo Yo dieting
does more harm than good. Too many drastic ups and downs can even weaken
the immune system. Women who had two to five weight-loss episodes -
losing 5kg pounds or more each time - had weaker immune cell activity
Researchers at the Fred Hutchison
Cancer Research Center in Seattle studied natural killer cells, which
attack viruses and cancers, in a study of 114 obese, sedentary women
ages 50-75. Among these women who has lost weight at least five times,
natural killer cell function dropped 30%. And this weakening effect of
the immune system lingers for years.
The researchers from Chieti University
in Chiete, Italy looked at 250 obese women. They found that the women
whom are yo-yo dieters and had more excess fat around the waist than at
the hips i.e. more apple shaped than pear shaped, were 8X more likely to
develop high blood pressure.
During short-term dieting, if the
dieter is not exercising, half or more of the weight loss may be due to
a loss of muscle. This muscle loss can cause problems. Firstly, with
less muscle, the dieter becomes not only thinner buy also weaker.
Secondly, since muscle, not fat, burns calories, it is harder than ever
before for the dieter to maintain weight. Thirdly, as weight is rapidly
regained, it will be mostly fat and not muscle.
"The basic premise is that when you
lose the weight, you lose the muscle and the fat, and when you regain
the weight, you regain the fat, and it's being distributed in the
abdomen. So it's harder to lose again, and the cycles are going to get
longer and longer in between," Stephenie Lucas, MD endocrinologist at
St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit reports. This regained
fat is more easily available to affect cholesterol levels and possibly
hear disease or high blood pressure.
In yo yo dieting, if the weight is
gained back, the inactive dieter may not only be fatter but thicker at
predict weights. For example, before dieting a woman weights 63kg and
fits comfortable into a L size dress. She diets, without exercising, and
losses 10kg. She then regains, again without exercising, but now at 63kg
wearing a size XL dress. The reason behind this is that fat is lighter
and less dense than muscle, therefore, it takes more fat weight and bulk
(space) to replace the lost muscle weight.
There is also psychological impact of
yo-yo dieting as well. It can upset the individual because it is
disheartening to regain the weight that was lost after so much effort.
In extreme cases, yo yo dieting can even result in poor body image and a
negative attitude towards food.
A long term weight loss program should
combine a reduced calorie intake, making healthy choices of food intake,
increased activity, and to practice a healthy lifestyle. Exercise will
help to further reduce the body fat. Many people also find that exercise
suppresses the appetite. Exercise also allows the dieter to retain
muscle while losing fat. Be on your way to successful weight loss
without yo yo effect !
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