Why you gain weight after losing it and how to kick the habit for good

Let’s see if this sounds familiar: you’ve been working your dick in the gym and maintained a nutritious diet for months to finally lose the weight you wanted…only to start all over again once you stopped dieting. If this has happened to you, it can be a disheartening cycle that feels like it will never end. The good news is that you’re certainly not alone in your frustrations and you’ve lost weight once, so you know you can do it again.

This habit is called the weight cycle – or yo-yo dieting – and it is marked by a weight loss cycle then pick it up to start dieting again. With sometimes severe ups and downs, yo-yo dieting keeps you from reaching your goals. Not to mention the lasting effects it can have on your body.

Fortunately, you can break the cycle, burn any allegiance to fad diets and get back on track with your wellness goals. Here’s how.

Read more: How many calories should you burn each day to lose weight?

Why do yo-yo diets happen?

Yo-yo dieting is not something you do intentionally. There is a physiological reason why your body reacts to an unrealistic diet. The leptin hormone decreases as you lose weight. Leptin’s job in our body is to tell us when we have enough energy (in the form of fat) stored in the body. When leptin levels drop enough, we begin to feel hungry.

In response to restrictive diets that limit our food intake, our bodies slow down our metabolism to hold on to those nutrients for as long as they can. This means that your weight loss will stall and you are at a greater risk of regaining it when you stop this restrictive diet.

How often do weight cycles occur?

Every time you turn around, it feels like there’s a new diet to try. With the rise and fall of fad diets, yo-yo dieting is more common than you might think, especially with restrictive diets. A March 2019 study from Columbia University Irving Medical Center found that 70% female participants experienced at least one instance of weight cycling. The study included a diverse group of 485 women between the ages of 20 and 76.

Weight fluctuation is completely normal. The average daily weight of an adult tends to fluctuate within a 3 to 4 pound range, depending on what you eat, drink and eliminate that day. The weight cycle doesn’t always have to be drastic. However, he is outside the normal ranges of weight loss and weight gain for the body and usually follows an unsustainable diet.

Why is yo-yo dieting bad for you?

You can lose muscle and gain fat

When you diet and lose weight quickly, you lose muscle along with fat. Then when you are in the yo-yo dieting phase where you gain weight, you grow first, not muscular. In the long term, this can have an impact your capacity walk, lift things or climb stairs. However, this can be compensated with exercises, such as strength training, to ensure that you are building muscle.

Studies have also shown that weight cycling can increase body fat percentage. A review of published research found that 11 of 19 studies linked the history of yo-yo dieting to higher body fat. Half of the studies reviewed also found that weight cycling is linked to future weight gain.

It’s risky for your heart

Weight gain increases your risk to develop heart disease. The same goes for the weight gain and weight loss cycle. A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that the risk of heart disease is correlated with weight change – the greater the weight swing, the greater the risk.

Some studies have also investigated the relationship between weight cycling and increased blood pressure. Previous studies suggest that with enough time between weight cycles, the effects on your decrease in blood pressure. However, not all studies agree on this point. A more recent study suggested that your body mass index will determine whether a weight cycle history contributes to higher blood pressure or not. Further research is needed to get the full picture.

It can affect your mental health

Various positives mental health benefits are associated with weight loss – greater confidence, a sense of accomplishment and improved self-esteem. Unfortunately, there can also be negative effects, especially with yo-yo dieting. Repeated weight changes are disheartening and can even contribute to anxiety and depression.

A 2020 study showed that a weight cycle history is a significant predictor depressive symptoms, with internalized weight stigma as a mediator. When controlling for gender, there was no significant difference, meaning the effects are similar in men and women. Like the other risk factors on the list, not everyone will experience it.

How to Stop the Rebound Weight Gain Cycle

Dieting is hard and falling into a weight cycle pattern is easier than it should be. We don’t want to paint the picture that it’s easy to break the cycle of yo-yo dieting. It’s not. And remember, losing weight isn’t necessary to be healthy. However, if weight loss is your goal, these tips can help you regain control.

several types of healthy food in a colorful arrangement

A great way to achieve your health goals is to establish a realistic diet and exercise program.

Claudia Totir/Getty Images

Reevaluate the diet you are following. Yo-yo diets start with unsustainable diets. You will want to avoid any diet that excludes whole food groups. We are people and sometimes we need a cookie, a soda or a bowl of pasta. More importantly, we need space to decide what we eat and what we don’t.

Think about what you eat. In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to try to avoid large amounts of sugar and sodium. But don’t make forbidden foods for yourself. This is one of the main pitfalls of yo-yo dieting. Instead, try to find your balance and make the best choices for you.

Exercise. Exercising is one of the main ways to fight yo-yo dieting. Staying active will ensure you maintain a healthy weight during your long-term weight loss plan. Exercise will also help you avoid losing muscle mass over time. Just be sure to take breaks and don’t overwork yourself.

Check with yourself. Don’t forget to check in during your trip. How do you sleep? How are you? Has your relationship to food changed? Checking in once in a while will help ensure that you are healthy in every way.

Find help. Yo-yo dieting may be linked to binge eating or other forms of eating disorders. Even if you don’t have an eating disorder, if meals and weight are stressful topics for you, you can still get help and work on your relationship with food. You can contact your doctor, a counselor or the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline.

Too long; did not read? Here’s what you need to know

Yo-yo dieting is the dark side of weight loss. And unfortunately, it happens to a lot of people. Remember that losing weight is not synonymous with being healthy. The yo-yo weight cycle comes from unrealistic and sometimes unhealthy diets that we couldn’t sustain. Even if you’re stuck in the vicious cycle of losing weight and gaining weight, that doesn’t mean you can’t get out of it.

More for your health and wellness needs

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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