Yo Yo Dieting

Yo Yo Dieting

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 than non-dieters.

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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