The search for the ideal body, imposed by the media and social networks, drives many people to follow strict diets. However, the latter can cause a yo-yo effect, the consequences of which on health are negligible. In this article, we will explain why the yo-yo effect is dangerous and how to avoid it.
What is the yo-yo effect?
The yo-yo effect, also known as “weight cycling”, consists of losing weight by dieting, and then regaining it involuntarily by returning to old eating habits. This term was coined by psychologist Kelly D. Brownell from Duke University and refers to the up and down yo-yo motion.
Fad diets are often the culprit because they promise quick results but are generally not designed for lasting change. According to some studies, up to 80% of people who lose at least 10% of their initial weight regain it within a year.
People at risk of yo-yo effect
People exposed to diets are most vulnerable to the yo-yo effect. Statistics show that women are more likely to diet than men. However, people of normal weight are also affected, as are young people and the elderly. In fact, excessive weight concern affects more and more individuals, regardless of their age or body mass index (BMI).
Some professions (dancers, models, actors, high-level athletes) are particularly affected by the yo-yo effect due to the pressure placed on their physical appearance.
Causes of the yo-yo effect
The main cause of the yo-yo effect is often restricted diets. It promises quick weight loss, but is difficult to maintain in the long term. By depriving the body of certain essential nutrients, the body goes into survival mode and slows down its metabolism to conserve energy. When a person abandons the diet and returns to a normal diet, the body stores calories in anticipation of further deprivation, which leads to weight regain.
Restrictive diets are also often a cause of compensatory behaviors, such as binge eating.
Consequences on health
Not only is the yo-yo effect frustrating, it can also have negative consequences on physical and mental health, such as eating disorders, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, bone fractures, and increased mortality. There are many studies on the links between the yo-yo effect and these health problems, although the exact mechanisms are still unknown.
- Eating disorders : Cycles of weight loss and regain can contribute to the development of eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and eating disorders not otherwise specified. These disorders have serious consequences on the physical and psychological health of the people concerned.
- Type 2 diabetes Weight changes can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially due to changes in insulin and blood glucose levels.(1).
- Hypertension Weight fluctuations can lead to changes in blood pressure, increasing the risk of developing high blood pressure(2).
- Bone fractures : Repeated cycles of weight loss and regain can weaken bone density, increasing the risk of fractures(3).
- Increased mortality rate Weight fluctuations have been associated with increased mortality, especially in people with obesity or cardiovascular disease(4).
To avoid the yo-yo effect, it is essential to adopt healthy, sustainable eating habits rather than short-term restrictive diets.
Adopt a balanced diet
Avoid restrictive diets: Beware of diets that eliminate entire food groups or deprive you of everything you love.
It is important to eat a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and good fats.
Avoid processed foods, excess sugar and saturated fats.
Do physical activity regularly
Find the right activity : To lose weight sustainably, it is important to incorporate physical activity into your daily life. Choose an activity that you enjoy and that works for you, such as walking, biking, swimming or yoga.
Progress management : It is important to progress gradually and not overexert yourself. Slowly increase the duration and intensity of your sessions to avoid injury and maintain motivation.
It is recommended to practice at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity.
Stress and sleep management
Relaxation techniques : Stress can contribute to weight gain and make losing weight more difficult. Learn how to manage stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.
Sleep hygiene Good sleep is essential for health and weight management. Practice good sleep hygiene by keeping a regular schedule, avoiding screens while eating or before bed, and creating an environment conducive to rest.
Adopt realistic and progressive goals
It is important to set realistic and gradual weight loss goals, taking into account your starting weight and abilities. A weight loss of 0.5 kg per week is generally considered reasonable and sustainable.
What to remember
In short, to avoid the yo-yo effect and lose weight sustainably, rather than following a series of crash diets, it is important to adopt a balanced approach in terms of diet, physical activity, stress management and sleep. Adopt these tips for healthy and lasting weight loss, and to feel better in your body and mind.
(tags for translation)What is the yo-yo effect?
Its risks and tips to avoid it and lose weight sustainably