What is Yo-Yo Dieting?

The term yo-yo dieting, also known as weight cycling, affects a wide variety of people. Athletes who are forced to change their weight or appearance for the sake of sport are considered weight cyclers, because their weight fluctuates up and down.

More commonly the term yo-yo dieters describes a set of individuals who attempt to lose weight, but fail to maintain their new low weight, and eventually gain the weight back again.

Cycles of Weight Loss & Weight Gain

Yo-yo dieters may have long periods (a few years) where their low weight is sustained, however, for a variety of psychological, emotional and physiological reasons they eventually return to their set weight. Individuals who yo-yo diet may actually end up gaining more weight than they originally started with. People who are obese often struggle with yo-yo diets, particularly if they are not given correct information about sustainable and long term weight loss. Fad diets or extreme dieting for short periods of time will also result in the yo-yo dieting cycle.

Binge Eating & Feeling Worthless

Feelings of worthlessness, failure and sadness may occur for those who struggle with chronic dieting and weight gain. The development of binge eating disorder is also a common consequence of yo-yo diets. People with binge eating disorder often feel numb during a binge. If this sounds like you, and you are frustrated and feel trapped in a cycle of yo-yo diets and want healthy long term weight loss, our team at WeightMatters can help you.

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Symptoms checklist for Yo-Yo dieting

If you agree with any of the statements below, this may indicate you are struggling with Yo-Yo dieting.

  • I am overweight and trying to lose weight in a healthy manner
  • My efforts to lose weight end up in failure
  • I am able to keep weight off for a short time, but eventually I gain it all back
  • I have been dieting for a long time
  • I feel I am worthless
  • There are times where I eat massive amounts of food at once
  • I eat in secret as I am ashamed of people watching me eat
  • I feel I am not in control over what I eat
  • I feel trapped in an endless cycle of weight gain and weight loss
  • I often feel depressed and sad

What Happens to my Body with Yo-Yo Dieting?

Yo-yo dieting is a very common condition, which occurs due to a compounding of physiological changes in the body entwined with poor weight loss information and low self- efficacy.

When you severely reduce the amount of food you consume, lots of changes occur within our bodies. If you are eating less food, and perhaps avoiding carbohydrates as much as possible, the brain starts to believe food is scarce and shifts into starvation mode.

Do you often end up breaking diets?

At this point your body works against your plan and desire to burn body fat. Your thyroid function slows, resulting in a slow and sluggish metabolism. Levels of Leptin, a hormone that promotes leakage of fat from fat cells, start to drop so your body can conserve your fat stores.

Your brain also tells your body to conserve energy by moving less, as a result of your lowered metabolism. Weight loss slows, frustration and boredom take over, and hunger promoted by brain chemistry drives you to eat.

Most people then gorge themselves because they feel they have been depriving themselves. Binge eating is common, and the satisfaction and delight of eating junk food again can move you to trance like state of bliss. Once again brain chemistry is hooking you back into the comfort of eating.

When you put weight back on again, do you end up heavier than before you started the diet?

Weight gain is rapid due to your low metabolism following the dieting period. Your net result is being heavier than before you started the diet. You probably feel like a failure, have engaged in high levels of self-loathing and feel trapped in a weight loss and weight gain cycle.

Treatment for Yo-Yo Dieting

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