Yo-yo dieting: Why you should avoid itBODY See all BODY posts
If excess weight is a problem that you have already encountered, you’ve probably heard about the yo-yo effect. It occurs when you lose weight, but eventually after some time you gain it back again. If you want to avoid this problem, it is good to know what causes it.
Causes of the yo-yo effect
The yo-yo effect usually occurs after fast weight loss diets, that dramatically reduce your daily calorie intake. When you deprive your body of calories which charge it with energy, it adapts to the changes and as a result your metabolism slows down. And the metabolism are the biochemical processes that occur in the body.
Yo-yo dieting and loss of muscle tissue
The amount and density of muscle tissue affect the metabolic rate. While functioning, muscles burn calories. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn because your body needs more energy. This is the reason, resistance training is an important factor in a weight loss regime.
After such a fast and drastic weight loss diet, you can feel your body’s response to the hunger – you gain weight quickly back and only in fatty tissue. This process changes the ratio of fat and muscle tissue in the body, which is a key health factor.
The loss of muscle tissue is another problem associated with the yo-yo effect. When your daily calorie intake becomes too low, the body begins to burn the muscle cells, and because you are loosing muscle – your metabolism slows down. This is exactly the reason why in long term such low calorie diets lead finally to weight gain, rather than weight loss.
Low calorie diets just temporarily slow down your metabolism, and such dieting is impossible to maintain in a long period of time. When you stop with such dieting you will gain even more weight than you have lost. Finaly you realize, that the results are temporary and it would have been better if you’ve never started such drastic weight loss diet.
Despite the tempting promises of such diets for rapid weight loss in a long term it is even inevitable to end up with a few extra kilos on top.
Yo-yo effect and weight loss
Contrary to what you might think, low-calorie diets won’t help you lose weight. According to your age, gender and level of physical activity you need at least 1400-1800 kcal per day. If you go below this level for a long period of time, your body enters a sleep mode of starvation, because there is not enough available food. This mechanism is a result of millions of years of evolution. Your brain may know that you are on a diet, but your body doesn’t know that.
Once your body enters the starvation mode, your metabolism slows down to preserve the little available energy. So any consumed calorie is used efficiently. Your body tries to preserve it’s fat reserves and burns muscle tissue instead. This results in less burned calories and loss of valuable muscle mass.
The effect of yo-yo dieting on health
With diets promising fast results, you may initially lose weight, but the most of this lost weight is water and muscle mass and not fat. Besides the fact that the weight loss is temporary, yo-yo dieting has other bad effects on your health, such as falling into depression and development of eating disorders. The levels of the hormone cortisol increase and in the long term this may have serious consequences for your health and even increase the risk of cancer and heart disease.
You can suffer hair loss or osteoporosis, because a decreased food intake means shortage of vitamins, minerals and other important for your health substances. Due to shortage of energy you will probably feel constantly tired and will find it difficult to cope with your everyday tasks.
How to fix the damage to your metabolism
The good news is that quick diets do not slow down your metabolism forever. Once you stop and move to a balanced diet, your metabolism will slowly go back to normal. It is important to restore the lost muscle mass through exercise and nutrition. When you increase the muscle mass in your body, your metabolism speeds up. This means you will have to eat more in order to obtain enough energy.
If you don’t want to be one of the many victims of the yo-yo effect, instead of slowing down your metabolism, you have to speed it up. You can achieve this by increasing the level of your physical activity. It is better to forget about quick diets and seek a safer way for losing weight gradually, which will bring you long lasting results.