Blog, Health & Wellbeing, Nutrition

STOP the Yo-yo dieting!

The media and magazines are regularly seen promoting the latest celebrity faddy diets. Some of these diets are very popular, in particular with women. Often many of these ‘faddy’ ‘crash’ diets include bouts of starvation, missing nutrients, meals, or very low calories.

Diets may help you successfully lose weight in the short term – but most faddy diets can leave you feeling deprived or hungry and this makes it impossible to stick to them in the long term. When you come off these diets you regain the weight back and you may even gain more weight then you were before you started the diet. 

Research shows most people will regain almost all of what they lose, which is why the typical dieter tries a new plan almost four times a year. Some people struggle with this all their life and become serial dieters – often referred to as ‘yo-yo dieting’ – a continuing pattern of gaining and losing weight.

This pattern of dieting can have many negative effects physically and it can also have negative psychological and behavioural consequences. The crash dieting cycle increases metabolic hormones such as insulin. These changes can affect your waistline, causing you to start putting weight on around your mid-section, which research has linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Yo-yo dieting can have a negative impact on your emotions, confidence and self-esteem. The more times you go through the repeat gain-lose-gain pattern the more it can possibly affect your emotional wellbeing – and you become less convinced you can break free from the constant ups and downs. 

So, although you may achieve some fast results with dieting, sooner or later the body will adapt to the reduction of calories you are taking in and metabolism begins to slow down. This is often when many people will start to struggle with the diet, and the weight begins to come back on. Because the metabolism is slower many people will find they end up with more weight gain then what they started with! If you are starving yourself the severe calorie restriction can cause loss of muscle tone (catabolism). This is not good news if you want to lose weight, because less muscle means a slower metabolism.

So how can you get yourself out of the Yo-yo dieting pattern?

Well rather than trying to go for quick diet fixes think about taking a long term sustainable approach. Change your mind-set and think of your diet as a healthy eating plan. Start making lifestyle changes, look at your activity levels and what and when and why you eat. Try to increase your physical activity levels gradually this will help to boost your metabolism. Most importantly do not miss meals or starve yourself such as; skipping breakfast.

It can really impact you mentally and emotionally to go through all that dieting, just to be back where you started. If you are really struggling and are stuck in a Yo-yo dieting pattern then seek some professional help; from a dietitian, therapist or health fitness professional.

Ditch diets forever and be happy, healthy, and body confident!

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Dal Dhaliwal is a health and wellbeing expert, educator and special advisor on physical activity. She is also an active professional speaker and TV/ radio presenter. Dal helps entrepreneurs and professionals with their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. She consults and presents for some of the UK's leading businesses and organisations within the wellness, sports and business arena.