No More Yo-Yo Dieting

by Sophie – Sunday, 1. July 2018

Ways to stop yo–yo dieting

After months of starvation and extreme exercising you’ve finally reached your goal. But just few months later you’ve gained the lost pounds and even a little more.

Do you know that feeling? It can be very frustrating and on top of that it is unhealthy and counterproductive. Luckily there are some ways you can avoid yo-yo dieting (weight cycling) and reach a healthy weight and stay there for good, or at least, a long time. With most diets you get a set of rules to follow until your goal is met. But what happens after that?

What is the reason you gain weight again?

Repeated dieting can do the opposite of what you actually want and lead to over-all weight gain. The reason is, that our brain interprets extreme fasting as “short famines”, which leads to a natural reaction that the body will build reserves as if it would be in survival mode for future shortages.

Another reason for gaining weight again is that the body becomes stressed as soon as it doesn’t have enough energy reserves and starts to produce the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol reduces metabolism and fat burning functions. That reaction is actually meant for our protection, because our brain wants us to be prepared for stressful situations that could last a long time. This is also a reason why it is often suggested to relieve stress while dieting.

The hormone leptin, which helps you feel full after a meal, decreases in level during a diet and especially with fat loss. That means as you lose fat again and again, leptin decreases and appetite increases. Fat is more easily regained than muscle mass, what can result in your body fat percentage increasing over multiple yo-yo cycles.

Why is weight cycling unhealthy?

Repeated dieting can make you feel depressed, but is also unhealthy for your body physically. It can cause a fatty liver. This happens when the body stores excess fat inside the liver cells. Fatty liver is associated with changes in metabolism, increasing the risk of diabetes. If it comes to worst case it can lead to chronic liver failure.

Weight cycling has often been associated with coronary artery disease, which means that arteries that supply the heart become narrow. Even more than obesity, the repeated weight gain increases the risk of multiple heart risks.

Also linked to yo-yo dieting is high blood pressure. All these things mean that you should be careful with your diets and look after your body in a healthy way.

10 ways to avoid weight cycling?

1.) Exercise

Best would be if you could make sure your exercises are a fixed part in your life and you plan to do a few sessions a week. It can be tough to manage this if you have a job that takes a lot of energy from you or if you have kids you need to take care of. Perhaps you can do a little run during lunch break, or instead of drinking coffee or an after-work beer with your friends you could go to Velocity together once a week.

2.) The right food

We hear it all the time…. “don’t eat less, eat right”. The thing is, if you eat the right things you will stay satisfied for much longer.

If you eat, for example a good breakfast full of good vitamins and proteins, you will have energy for much longer. Check out our blog post for ideas:

During weight loss, the body’s protein requirement also increases and eating enough quality protein can help reduce muscle loss. Furthermore muscles use a lot of energy, which makes it easier to lose fat.

3.) Sleep

“Beauty Sleep” is a real thing. Your body starts to produce more cortisol as soon as it doesn’t get enough sleep. Cortisol is frequently associated with fat gain and in addition it activates reward centers in your brain that make you want even more food than is actually good for you.

4.) Routines

With Routines such as having a good breakfast or having fruit for dessert, you are laying down the foundation for staying in shape. Simply put, it makes everything easier. Making some exceptions like having a few glasses of wine every now and then is okay, and keeps us sane versus following a strict regimen. But be careful not to have exceptions every day (or if you do, just in very small portions).

5.) Stay hydrated

Water is seriously important for our bodies as the average percentage of water in an adult human body is 50-65%.

Drinking water will have you feeling less hungry. Also drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water can act as a digestive aid. Water helps transport nutrients in the body, regulates body temperature, digests food, and so on.

6.) Take pictures

(of when you are in good shape)

I know it sounds trivial and maybe even vain, but keep these pictures private to remind yourself of the fact that it is possible.

7.) Walk more often

Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk home instead of taking the tram, and just keep moving! There are so many chances to integrate a healthy choice in our every day.

8.) Be realistic

It is not realistic to eat one raisin a day and keep doing that your whole life (I’m exaggerating of course). It is also not realistic to exercise 5 hours a day and keep doing that, unless it is your profession. But it is realistic to eat healthy and exercise 3 – 5 times a week. Don’t be too ambitious with your goals right away to ensure you’re able to stick with them long-term.

9.) Scale back

That you lost pounds doesn’t necessarily mean that you lost fat, it can also mean you lost water or lost muscle mass. So don’t only refer to what is shown on the scale.

10.) Soothe without food

Stress eating can often and quickly turn into a binge. Try to find something else to release stress. For example, walking 3 times around the building or doing 10 push-ups can help you let out extra tension and then relax. There are many other ways to fight stress, not only food.