The Yo-Yo Diet Returns Again (and Again)

Have you struggled with yo-yo dieting and weight-loss frustrations?  Are you concerned about your weight but are not sure what to do?

Millions of Americans share your struggle to shed the extra pounds gained so easily in the age of fast and processed food, supersized proportions, and sugar laden beverages.  We are a society that has uncovered the link between obesity and diabetes as a result of our prosperity and dietary indulgences.

Diets come and go and so does the weight.  Rapidly losing pounds through radical and unsustainable diets inevitably fails and often leads to a return to the same or higher weight.  In fact, over 90% of dieters regain lost weight within one year.

Experts have analyzed the situation and have lucid explanations for the yo-yo effect.  I’m going to give you my opinion built only on my own experience.

First, short-term extreme dieting can’t be sustained and therefore does not lead to a change in eating, sleeping and exercise habits.  The same behaviors that led to long-term weight gain return unless new patterns are formed.  In particular, the use of food to deal with stress or as the basis for social interactions is deeply rooted and difficult to modify unless done in a purposeful manner with long-term health in view.

Second, crash dieting often involves severe calorie restrictions which leads to a reduced base metabolic rate (BMR), according to recent studies.  In other words, your body automatically adapts to low calorie situations by using less energy.  As a result, after an initial diet induction phase, often associated with rapid weight-loss, progress is slow.  And, a return to former daily calorie intake may (I’m theorizing) lead to a greater energy imbalance resulting in rapid weight gain.  The equation for fat gain looks something like:  (calories stored as fat) = (consumed calories) – BMR – (calories used during activity).  So, reducuing your BMR increases the likelihood of future weight gain if old habits return.

Short-term dieting for the sole purpose of weight loss is one dimensional and does not necessarily have long-term health as its objective.  Weight or BMI may be associated with risk factors but these are not a comprehensive health metric.  Overall health should be in view which may actually preclude some weight-loss strategies.

Over the past year I have had success that was built on a change in eating habits, a reduction in processed and fast foods, the introduction of sustainable exercise programs and consideration of sleeping patterns.  I’m working on a post outlining the choices that were particularly helpful and some that were not… stay tuned.