The Dangers and Warning Signs of Yo-Yo Dieting

If you’re anything like me and countless other people, you became overweight and started dieting at a young age. I was in my teens, and I now feel that’s the worst time, mostly because of social pressure, awkwardness and, all-too-often, bullying. We have this mentality that we must lose the weight immediately, and the end result is almost always yo-yo dieting.

Dangers of Yo-Yo Dieting and Weight CyclingThe most dangerous way to lose weight is the yo-yo diet. As the name implies, a person will lose weight quickly, then go back to their original eating habits and gain it all back. The process then repeats itself time and again.

Not only that, yo-yo dieters tend to put on a few more pounds than they started with. At that point, individuals become angry with themselves, going back on the diet and starting the whole cycle over again.

We’ll discuss the dangers and warning signs of yo-yo dieting, and how to avoid falling into this pit of depressingly repetitive weight cycling.

Warning Signs of Yo-Yo Diets

The number one sign that you’re about to fall into a yo-yo dieting cycle is when you find a diet that is simply too restrictive. If you’re eating habits are too limited, you’ll never be able to stick with it for the long term.

Any weight loss program that promises you’ll lose a whole lot of weight quickly can lead to yo-yo dieting and weight cycling. What you should be looking for is a healthy diet that still allows you to be satisfied. That’s where exercise comes in.

The more calories you consume, the more exercise you need to do in order to work off the added calories and lose weight. Consider how much time you would be willing to commit each week to exercise – without burning out – and choose a diet that corresponds.

According to dietary experts, we’re supposed to consume about 2,000 calories per pay. For the average person, a minimal amount of exercise will keep us at a healthy weight. Add more exercise, and the person should lose weight.

Simply adjust the caloric intake and fitness level to achieve you goals. Just don’t make extreme adjustments. As we all learned from Aesop’s Fables, ‘slow and steady wins the race’.

Dangers of Yo-Yo Dieting

Medical experts can spend hours preaching the dangers of yo-yo dieting, so I’ll try to keep this short and sweet as possible. Obesity, health issues and depression are the most hazardous consequences commonly associated with weight cycling.

Losing the weight makes people feel great, but the severity of the diet causes them to go back to their old eating habits, and the majority will put on 5%-20% more weight than they started the diet with. This leads to obesity, which comes with all sorts of health issues – high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, osteoarthritis, heart disease, stroke, etc.

Some level of depression is found in every person who suffers from yo-yo dieting. Sometimes it’s that depression that leads to weight cycling, and other times its weight cycling that leads to depression. Either way, it’s a dangerous scenario.

When a person is depressed, they often experience cognitive feelings of pessimism, guilt, self-dislike, worthlessness, and in extreme cases, thoughts of suicide. A depressed person may criticize themselves often, focusing on their past failures and feeling the need to punish themselves, often by eating more, or by going back on an extreme, unhealthy diet. Thus the cycle always repeats itself.

Avoiding Yo-Yo Diets

There are plenty of great diet and exercise regimes out there to fit any lifestyle. I’m not going to tell you which one is best, because that all depends on the individual. What I can do is pass one some valuable information that will help you chose the right plan to avoid the dangers of weight cycling.

The National Weight Control Registry gathered information from over 10,000 people who lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off for at least a year. Among them, these were the most popular habits associated with their success.

  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
  • 75% weigh themselves at least once per week
  • 78% eat breakfast each morning
  • 90% exercise 1 hour per day, on average
  • 94% increased physical activity, especially walking
  • 98% modified their diet in some way
  • Of all NWCR reporting participants, 45% lost weight on their own; 55% joined a weight loss program
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