The Dark Side of Yo-Yo Dieting AKA Weight Cycling


A phenomenon known as Yo-yo dieting or weight cycling can cause you to be stuck in a perpetual cycle of weight gain and weight loss. Weight cycling is often a result of unhealthy diet schedules and needs to be corrected to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Weight Cycling
Weight Cycling

What Do Studies Say About Yo-Yo Dieting?

Yo-yo dieting is described as a pattern of losing weight and regaining it again. Just like a yo-yo, your weight goes up/ down and fluctuates between two extremes. According to stats, 30% of women have engaged in weight cycling as per the National Institute of Health database.


Another study by Columbia University found that 70% of their female participants from 485 women between the ages of 20-76 years have participated in Yo-yo dieting at least once in their life.

Why Is Weight Cycling Considered Bad?

There are many problems associated with weight cycling methods. These factors include risks to your heart, mental health, and muscle loss.

Heart Risks

A study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine reveals that having heart ailments is correlated with sudden weight changes. As yo-yo dieting causes people to swing from one extreme to another, this can be a risk factor for developing heart diseases.

Another study shows that there is also a relation between weight cycling and an increase in blood pressure. The effect of yo-yo dieting on blood pressure can linger for years and might fade over time.

However, further research is required to understand the impact of weight cycling on blood pressure fully.

Muscle Loss

When you lose weight, your body loses body fat and muscle mass simultaneously. When a person loses their muscle mass, they have decreased physical strength. This muscle loss due to yo-yo dieting can affect your capacity to walk, lift things, or climb the stairs.

Some studies also show that weight cycling can cause people to gain higher body fat as fat is regained faster than muscle mass.

Mental Health

A 2020 study indicated that engaging in weight cycling caused participants to experience symptoms related to depression and feelings of being dissatisfied with life and health.

It becomes frustrating for people to lose weight and gain it all back. Adults with a history of yo-yo dieting report feeling out of control regarding their bodies.

Also Read: How to Manage Your Diet Plan During the Festive Season

What Can Be Done To Undo The Effects Of Yo-Yo dieting?

Though breaking the cycles of yo-yo dieting is never as easy as it is painted, people with a history of weight cycling can take these few measures to break the cycle. There is a need to avoid unsustainable diets that can cause one to slip into weight cycling.

People need to stay fit, exercise, think about what they eat, and not be too restrictive with their diet. If your relationship with food gets too stressful, it is best to get help from a doctor or counselor.

People falling into a cycle of weight gain and weight loss due to yo-yo dieting can cause them to have side effects that linger around for years. It is essential to undo the effects of weight cycling by saying no to unsustainable diets and staying fit through exercise.


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