Can Yo-Yo Dieting Really Cause Weight Gain?
Every year, losing weight is an attempt made by millions. As dieters succumb to the media promotions of slim images, they also contribute to a dieting industry worth more than $150 billion in just the United States and Europe. Unfortunately, all that money spent on dieting products, meal plans, and weight loss services hasn’t helped the majority of dieters get slim.
In fact, studies with long-term outcomes show at least one-third of dieters regain weight that was lost within a year. Within five years, most of the remaining two-thirds of dieters regain. Children and teens who diet unfortunately gain rather than lose weight.
With unintentional weight gain, dieters begin a repeated cycle of intentional weight loss. This destructive yo-yo dieting pattern not only affects weight and self-image, but it also endangers their biochemical pathways and health as it leads to a high risk for chronic disease and death. According to Obesity Reviews, yo-yo dieting is likely to become an increasingly serious public health issue.
Why is Yo-Yo Dieting Detrimental to Health?
Your body’s cells are constantly working, carrying out numerous chemical reactions to keep you functioning properly. The set of chemical reactions that happen within a cell is your metabolism. Linked together, these chemical reactions make up chains or pathways to help your body convert food and water into energy to help you perform all of your activities throughout the day such as brushing your teeth, walking, playing, and even breathing.
Yo-yo dieting interferes with the way your cells are supposed to work. Unfortunately, it affects the thyroid gland, a small, butterfly shaped gland located in the base of your neck just below the Adam's apple. The thyroid gland plays an enormous role in the body as it produces hormones that regulate metabolic rate, as well as other bodily functions such as the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, bones, muscles, and more.
How Does Yo-Yo Dieting Affect Metabolism?
It’s common for people to think that a slow or high metabolism is a result of genetics. However, this is rarely the case. Metabolism is usually dependent upon an individual’s eating and lifestyle habits.
While there are some rare underlying conditions that may contribute to a slow metabolism, most of these disorders are also linked to eating and lifestyle habits (i.e., hypothyroidism). Most overweight and obese people do not have underlying conditions as their weight gain is usually due to an energy imbalance (high calorie intake through food and little calorie expenditure through exercise and activity).
Because yo-yo dieting is a continuous cycle of restriction and over-consumption, the body is working in overtime. This leads to slowing biochemical or metabolic pathways. Your metabolic pathways are usually classified as catabolism, anabolism, and waste disposal. Catabolism breaks down the body by excreting energy, while anabolism allows your body to build new cells and maintain all tissues. Waste disposal eliminates the toxins produced by the other pathways. Learn how they stay balanced below.
Catabolism provides your body with energy it needs for physical activity from the cellular level on up to whole body movements. When you eat, your body breaks down the organic nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats which release energy. Some catabolic hormones that help you stay balanced include:
Like a home contractor uses bricks and mortar to build a new home, your anabolic processes use a few simple chemicals and molecules to build more complex molecules (i.e., proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) for your body. For example, bone growth and muscle mass increase are caused by anabolic processes. Some other benefits of anabolic hormones include:
Regarding weight loss, catabolism creates the energy that anabolism consumes. If catabolism creates more energy than anabolism requires, there will be excess energy in which your body stores glycogen or body fat.
WASTE DISPOSAL PATHWAYS
Useless stuff that you don’t need any longer usually gets put in the trash, and the same happens with your cells. They also get rid of the things they don’t need. Waste disposal in your cells are done through two pathways.
How do Biochemical Pathways Affect Cells?
As mentioned in the previous section, your biochemical pathways (also known as metabolic pathways) are involved with taking in or releasing energy. You are on a continuous cycle of eating food and releasing its toxins and waste, and the same is true for your body’s cells.
In fact, the food you eat is what your cells obtain energy from. After you eat, the nutrients within the food are broken down in your gastrointestinal tract and they eventually feed your body’s cells. If you provide them with nutrient-dense foods, your metabolism will be healthy and make your body smart in times of crisis. For instance, it will help your body stay warm on cold winter days as it pulls conserved energy. However, processed and junky foods will cause a metabolism decline and make your cells sick as it relies on nutrient-dense foods to function properly and make energy. Unfortunately, empty calories will not feed your cells.
With the right nutrients, your biochemical pathways will allow you to grow, reproduce, and repair cells so that they respond to your environment in a positive way.
What are Yo-Yo Dieting Health Risks?
As mentioned earlier, weight cycling occurs in almost all people who diet. They will lose weight only to gain it back, and then they start the cycle over again. This is known as yo-yo dieting. Based on studies, weight gain relapse appears to induce fat growth and hyperplasia more rapidly due to metabolic shifts that favor fat storage. These metabolic shifts are linked with failed immunologic memory.
Not only are weight regain and hyperplasia risk with yo yo dieting. Several other chronic diseases have also been linked to weight cycling, and both women and men are at risk. They are slightly different based on gender.
YO-YO DIETING RISKS FOR WOMEN
YO-YO DIETING RISKS FOR MEN
Don't Fall Into the Trap...
Over the last two decades, weight cycling has been associated with a number of morbid health issues and increased mortality. If you need to lose weight, do it once and don't fall into the trap of reverting to previous unhealthy eating. Continue with the diet that helped you lose weight and get healthy. Eat correctly so that you can live healthily for a lifetime.
Instead of yo-yo dieting, remember to take care of your cells. Treat them as if they are your children - with loving kindness. Be sure to feed them nutrient dense foods. And, don't forget to give them oxygen through exercise, Vitamin D through sunshine, quality sleep to repair damaged cells, and meditation for mitigating stress. You may want to read my article 10 Steps to Meeting Your Weight Loss Goals.