Why yo-yo dieting is detrimental to your health

Yo-yo dieting, or weight cycling, refers to a type of dieting pattern where someone goes on a diet, loses weight, stops the diet, then gains the weight back… then does the same pattern all over again – just like a yo-yo!

This type of yo-yo dieting can be detrimental to your health. Most people will gain all of the weight lost back, and sometimes they may even gain more weight than they had before they started the diet. There is some evidence that this weight cycling and weight regain may increase your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Another detrimental side effect of this type of dieting is that weight that is lost very quickly also contains muscle – it is not just fat loss! Losing too much muscle can decrease your physical strength and lead to other health problems. This weight regain from yo-yo dieting can also be extremely frustrating and may cause feelings of guilt and hopelessness. Some people think it is a sign of personal weakness. It is important to know that it is not a sign of personal weakness – this type of dieting is a short-term fix with short-term benefits. It is not meant to result in long-lasting changes.

Many people will follow this type of diet until their weight loss goal is met and then return to their old habits, however, it is important to continue good habits for life. This is called a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle includes following a healthy diet, being physically active, getting enough sleep and limiting sedentary behavior (such as watching television or computer time). If you make permanent changes to your lifestyle that can fit into your daily life and that you will enjoy in the long term, you will have better success. And you do not have to do everything at once, making small changes when you can will make a difference! Stop the cycle of yo-yo dieting and start with small healthy lifestyle changes.

Written by Andrea Glenn, MSc RD CDE

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