Nobody yo-yos for fun. Let’s restate that. Nobody yo-yo diets for fun. Because it’s not fun, and the effects of yo-yo dieting aren’t fun. It’s a vicious cycle, a trap for the unwary. And with the help of people who are generally well-meaning, millions of us have fallen in.
The thing is, we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do about weight loss. And that includes the experts. The doctors, friends, authors of diet books who recommended this or that diet may not have realized those diets, that deprivation, can rebound on us with a vengeance.
You want to lose some weight. So you diet – hard. And your body fights you. The more you try to lose weight through restriction, the more your body thinks you’re starving. And it fights back in many ways, trying to survive.
Like an overstretched rubber band, you snap. And then you may feel lousy about yourself. And very often, just lousy in general. Eventually, that may become the motivation to take another try.
Rinse and repeat. Only each time, you lose a little more muscle, gain a little more fat, and feel a little more lousy.
The Effects of Yo-yo Dieting
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- Muscle loss: repeated and restrictive dieting generally means the loss of some muscle tissue. When you regain the weight, a higher percentage will be fat.
- Adaptive thermogenesis: this is your metabolism slowing as your body reacts to the sensation of being starved.
- Malnutrition: if you’re not careful to get the nourishment you need even on limited calories, you may start to develop nutritional deficiencies and imbalances.
- Cravings: the part of your brain that controls cravings may step up its game. That also may be a reaction to the sense of starvation. And that can result in enormous stress.
- Depression: repeated failures and the accompanying shame, frustration, and loss of self-confidence can feed into mood disorders. And of course, both stress and depression have very negative effects on the body.
Research is uncovering more clues every day to developing strategies that will help us work with, not against, our bodies. But we can start healing the effects of yo-yo dieting right now.