Weight cycling, also known as “yo-yo” dieting, is the process of losing weight and gaining it back in a repeated cycle. When you find yourself stuck in this on-and-off pattern, it’s referred to as yo-yo dieting because your weight goes up and down numerous times.
With a new year on its way, this is the time that many people make resolutions to lose weight. However, this is commonly done through crash diets that result in fast initial weight-loss as well as weight regain later on down the line. This is an example of weight cycling.
Health Impacts of Weight Cycling
While the research is mixed when it comes to the long-term health impacts of weight cycling, there are still some important associations to be mindful of.
Research has shown that fast weight-loss, which is a common theme in weight cycling, can lead to gallstones. So can being at a heavier weight on the upswing of the cycle if you have high cholesterol, which also causes gallstones.
Depending on your age, genetics and other factors, weight cycling can also impact your metabolism. However, the link between weight cycling and metabolism is not 100% clear. It does seem to indicate, though, that weight-loss can be harder to achieve the older you get.
Overweight and obesity are also linked to various health conditions and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. If you are someone that regains weight frequently, you are at a higher risk for weight-related health problems.
Many people who weight cycle struggle with body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. Watching your weight go up and down can lead to anxiety, depression, and an obsession with thinness or weight-loss. It’s also not uncommon to feel frustration and anger at yourself for not keeping the weight off. Sometimes, chronic weight cycling can lead to disordered eating and other serious mental health problems.
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How to Avoid Weight Cycling
The best way to avoid this frustrating cycle is to make sustainable lifestyle changes. These include regular exercise, balanced and healthy eating, and practicing moderation instead of just restriction. While you might not lose weight at a lightning speed, slow weight-loss can help you develop healthy habits that you can maintain forever.
If you’ve reached a weight that is healthy and one that you are comfortable with, don’t give up the healthy changes you implemented earlier in your weight-loss journey. Keep making them a part of your lifestyle to help you maintain your lower weight long-term.