Yes, Yo-Yo dieting has negative effects on future
weight loss. It can lead to weight gain, not weight loss.
Probably 70% or more of individuals struggling to lose weight, are caught up
in the destructive cycle of Yo-Yo dieting.
Yo-Yo dieting is when someone who is genuinely
overweight or imagines that she is overweight (but is actually not!) goes on a
slimming diet, loses quite a few kg, stops dieting, reverts back to what he/she
regards as ‘normal’ eating (loads of high-energy foods with a high fat content)
and not only regains all the weight she/he lost, BUT also gains extra weight so
that the person ends up weighing more than at the start of this futile exercise.
After a while, these people try to diet again and find that their efforts are unsuccessful, they then get depressed and eat even more,
gain even more weight and become seriously obese.
Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR)
dieting has a most unfortunate effect on the so-called Basic Metabolic Rate
The BMR is the amount of energy a person uses up when
he/she is at rest. The BMR is the amount of energy you need to keep your body
ticking over when you are not doing anything active, e.g. sleeping, sedentary
work, resting, watching TV, etc.
In a sedentary individual the BMR is responsible for 60%
or more of the energy expenditure. In highly active people, the BMR can drop to
zero because practically all the available energy is used up by physical
Something that is not well
known, is the fact that the BMR increases as overweight increases, i.e. an obese
individual will have a higher BMR than a thin person and actually uses up more
energy just to keep his/her vast body ticking over than the thin person.
When someone loses weight, his/her BMR decreases. In
other words, if you have lost those 10 kg by really strict dieting and regular
exercise, the amount of energy your body will burn for its basic processes will
be lower than when those 10 kg were encumbering your body! This is a seemingly
paradoxical situation, but it is unfortunately true.
Yo-Yo dieting is
really a metabolic disaster. What happens in the human body when cycles of
weight loss and weight gain are repeated over and over again as is the case with
so many overweight people?
Because the BMR (an energy burning process) decreases
when we lose weight as our bodies adapt to the lower energy intake, individuals
who stop dieting and start eating energy-rich foods again will gain more weight
The next time this cycle of weight loss and gain is
repeated, the BMR will be lowered even further and your body will use even less
energy for its basic metabolic processes. If you once again drop the diet and
indulge in fatty foods your weight will rocket and you will end up heavier than
Each time the destructive yo-yo cycle is repeated, the
body’s ability to burn fat decreases until you reach a point where weight loss
theoretically becomes close to impossible. Yo-Yo dieting is truly a metabolic
A ray of hope!
However, all is not
If you go on a sensible low-fat, high-fibre diet and do
regular exercise, you will eventually start to lose weight. It may take much
longer if you have been a Yo-Yo dieter, but the use of exercise will compensate
for your decreased BMR. This is one of the reasons why experts emphasise the use
of exercise together with an energy-reduced diet to achieve weight loss.
If you have been caught up in the trap of Yo-Yo dieting,
you need to be patient and allow your body to slowly lose weight and you must
combine the diet with regular, intensive exercise.
There is a catch to losing
weight if you are a Yo-Yo dieter. Once you have managed to lose weight, you need
to stick to the low-fat eating plan and the exercise for the rest of your life!
A word of warning!
Those of you who
have never dieted before or been caught in the web of Yo-Yo dieting, should make
quite sure that you don’t get into this destructive cycle. Go on your diet and
do your exercises and when you have lost the desired amount of weight, please
don’t revert back to unbalanced eating, otherwise you will join the ranks of
those unfortunate individuals who struggle to lose weight for the rest of their
lives because of Yo-Yo dieting. - Dr I.V. van Heerden, registered dietician.