Yo-yo effect – what is it and how to avoid it?


What is yo-yo effect?

Yo-yo effect is a phenomenon which concerns the majority of people who have been fighting with excess weight. It is the process of cyclic, alternate putting on weight and losing weight. This phenomenon is not beneficial both to physical health and mental condition, as it weakens motivation and faith in success and our own abilities. The yo-yo effect appears when during 5 months, the weight increase exceeds 10% of body mass that was achieved during weight loss. In the beginning, putting on weight is hardly visible, but after a few months we have problems to fit into our clothes again.

It turns our that a lot of people are able to lose weight, but only a small percentage is capable of maintaining the achieved score. It is said that only after 5 years after ending a diet, people are no longer prone to yo-yo effect and regaining weight. Such a long period is necessary to consolidate good eating habits and the lifestyle, which enables maintaining the desired body mass. Yo-yo effect often takes place when after ending a diet we return to old eating habits and too rapidly increase the caloricity of our menu. It is a frequent mistake, as we think that since we have already lost some weight, we can eat more again. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. We inherited the mechanism of storing fat in the form of adipose tissue from our ancestors, who alternately had access to food and starved.


The causes of yo-yo effect

1.Too rapid weight loss – large caloric restrictions and quitting certain groups of products, and to make things worse, following starvation diets, make us lose weight quickly, but this also introduces the organism in the state of drastic energy conservation. As a result of this, each additional portion of calories powers adipose tissue to prepare to organism for another period of hunger. Metabolism is also slowed down. After a sudden return to old eating habits, we burn fewer calories than before losing weight, therefore, higher amounts are stored in the form of fatty tissue.

2.Lack of physical activity – a frequent mistake during weight loss. Lack of physical activity in combination with a strict diet results in losing muscle mass, which is necessary in the process of burning fatty tissue. Mainly muscles use energy and the larger muscle mass, the more effective burning. Regular training increases the pace of metabolism and allows to control proper energy balance easier. Moreover, even small dose of physical activity is beneficial to health.

3.Returning to old eating habits – following a diet instead of learning good eating habits makes us treat the “period of dieting” as an upsetting experience about which we need to forget as soon as we achieve our weight goal. In this case, we quickly return to old habits, start eating more and without any control, forgetting that our organism needs to have time to get accustomed to increased amounts of calories.


The influence of yo-yo effect on health

Unfortunately, yo-yo effect is visible not only in the larger size of clothes. Extreme diets cause the decrease of adipose tissue, but also muscle mass. When we put on weight again, only the amount of the adipose tissue increases. The proportion of muscle mass to fatty tissue is decreased, which is unbeneficial to the general state of health. According to the research published in the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” and “Clinical Nutrition”, as a result of alternate weight loss and gain, the amount of fatty tissue stored in the area of the belly is increased, which constitutes a larger danger of developing diabetes and diseases of the circulatory system. Yo-yo effect is reflected not only in physical health, but also in mental health. People who alternately put on weight and lose weight have lower self-esteem and are less satisfied with their own body. They are also at risk of developing depression. Subsequent weight gains are often the cause of losing faith in our own abilities and motivation to act, not only on the field related to weight loss.


How to avoid yo-yo effect?

In order to enjoy a dreamed and well-shaped body once and for all, we need to change attitude to weight loss. We should not “be on a diet”, but change our lifestyle and eating habits. In order to avoid yo-yo effect, observe a few rules:

1.Follow a rational diet, during which you lose 0,5-1 kg per week. This is a healthy and safe pace of losing weight, which is not a burden for the organism and makes it possible to adjust to the changes.

2.Quit miracle diets, which provide less than 1200 kcal per day, as they are deficient diets.

3.Verify your goals. Losing weight for the wedding of your friend or for holidays is not a good motivation. These occasions pass and we have only one health for the whole life and realizing that should be huge help in maintaining weight.

4.Exercise. Physical activity 2-3 times a week is one of the best ways to avoid yo-yo effect and maintain diet’s effects.

5.Gradually return to a normal diet. It is good to increase calorie level by 100-150 kcal per week to make the return to normal eating last a few weeks.


Posted on: August 24, 2018

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