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Dangers of Yo-Yo Dieting

Updated on August 31, 2015

What is a yo-yo diet?

In pursuit of the mythical ‘perfect body’, people all over the world have managed to come up with an insane number of diets and weight loss plans. Some are effective others aren’t. Some could kill you while others don’t even make a difference in your life other than wasting your emotional and financial resources.

One of the presently trending diets is called the yo-yo diet. With this diet, the person loses weight then regains it in a cyclical manner. It is therefore also known as weight cycling. It can also work the other way round where a person gains then sheds the weight. Unlike other diets, the yo-yo diet is not done with the aim of maintaining a certain body size or weight. It is actually done as a reverting technique and is more often than not unintentional.

For example, if a person trying to lose weight binge eats and gains, they might starve themselves in an attempt to lose weight fast. After they are back where they wanted, they end up binging again due to the excitement leading to starvation again and the cycle repeats


How your body responds to Yo-Yo Diets

Yo-yo diets are harmful to the body and the health of the person. The effects can be divided into two as follows:

Effects of the weight loss phase

  • Loss of muscle mass. This is because of the body being starved of the nutrients necessary to maintain normal muscle structure and those existing being broken down for energy in response to starvation.
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular complications.
  • The body slows down its metabolism in an attempt to conserve the little nutrients it gets.

Effects of the weight gain phase

  • Limb weakening as the weight cycling alters the fat to muscle ratio. This means that the person gain weight in form of fat instead of muscles.
  • The dieter becomes unfit and less able to do lots of strenuous exercises thus they revert to extreme measures such as starvation in an attempt to go back to the desired weight.


It is important to note, however, that these effects do not always apply to everyone on a yo-yo diet. They are more commonly seen when the weight cycling is done too much or the amount of weight lost and regained or vice versa is too much. To be on the safe side, stick to the good old healthy meals and regular exercise diet.


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