How to Stop Yo-Yo Dieting
Author: Geraldine Horan, Naturopath
What is yo-yo dieting? - Yo-yo dieting, or weight cycling, is to repeatedly lose weight, only to gain back the weight and sometimes even more. This weight regain doesn’t seem to be related to the starting weight and level of exercise.
Health Risks of Yo-yo Dieting - This erratic weight recycling causes increases in hormones such as insulin and oestrogen, which leads to an increase in “belly fat” and increased health risks. Health risks that include increased gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes and its complications. One study found that women who had weight cycled at least 5 times in their life significantly increased their heart disease risk soon after menopause.
There is a negative psychological impact on the dieter, when the weight comes off and they fail to maintain it. Self esteem drops further and sometimes this leads to increased comfort eating.
What Can I Do About It?
- Lose weight gradually, about 1kg per week and be consistent.
- Diet only for yourself, to reduce a feeling of having publicly“failed” at a diet.
- Plan what is possible for you to achieve and how, then refocus on why it is good for you.
- Add a supportive team, of people who will positively encourage you. Today, there are online groups that can act as your support system.
The Good News! - Luckily there is more you can do now, thanks to a recent scientific discovery...
Researchers discovered that when dieters have been obese, their gut bugs, or microbiome becomes altered and holds a memory of their obesity after successful dieting.
Mice, who had never been obese, were wiped of their normal gut bugs by use of antibiotics and reimplanted with gut bugs from mice who had yo-yo dieted. Even on a normal, non obesity-forming diet, the mice gained excess weight. When the situation was reversed, the yo-yo dieting mice became slimmer mice. Researchers found that the effect of obesity on the gut bug population remained for a long time and influenced the rate of weight regain, thus impacting the yo-yo dieting cycles.
What Flavonoid foods Do - Researchers also noticed that 2 flavonoids, or plant chemicals, were very low in the gut after the weight loss had occurred. These food-derived antioxidant flavonoids were rapidly used up by the gut bugs post-dieting and weren’t available to carry out their normal role of energy expenditure during fat metabolism. Weight gain then occurred, but was stopped when the mice had the flavonoids added to their diet and normal fat-derived energy was released(1). The flavonoids found in the study were naringen: high in grapefruit, citrus and whole tomatoes and Mexican oregano; and apigenin found in: parsley (high levels), peppermint, rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme, basil, coriander, celery, cloves, chamomile (including as a tea) lemon balm, artichokes and spinach. Both are found in red wine in small quantities, but outweighed by the weight-gaining effect.
What Do We Include In Our Diet? - By eating a healthy diet with coloured fruits and vegetables, it will contain many types of flavonoids and add to our antioxidant protection. So, the good news is – that by spicing up your foods, having a grapefruit and drinking your Chamomile tea, you can keep the weight off and feel good about your success!
1. Thaiss CA, Itav S, Rothschild D, Meijer MT, Levy M, Moresi C, et al. Persistent microbiome alterations modulate the rate of post-dieting weight regain. Nature [Internet]. 2016 Nov 24 [cited 2017 Feb 1];540(7634):544–51. Available from: http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/nature20796