Yo-yo effect and how to fight it

Yo-yo effect and how to fight it

Up and down and again up. Are you frustrated with your body weight jumping up and down more often than hotel lift? It is called yo-yo effect and everybody who had tried some of the “effective” diets from the magazines, has met it. Why is it so? We will tell in the article how to fight yoyo effect and how to once and for all lose weight.

Yoyo effect doesn’t avoid men or women, younger or older. Unfortunately, yoyo effect doesn’t concern only the fat on the belly but also endangers health. It doesn’t matter which diet you are on, numbers say the same. Diets don’t work. Therefore not from the longer time aspect. Of course, you can be on a diet and lose weight but in a year or two, your weight is back and you are breaking your head why this yo-yo effect has chosen you.

What is yo-yo effect?

Yoyo effect or yo-yo diet is very frequently happening situation when after impulsive weight loss, you are gaining the weight back. If this process is repeated multiple times, vicious circle happens out of it and this leads to complicated weight reduction and causes negative impact on your metabolism, health and body. [2]

What is yo-yo effect?

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Why does yo-yo effect is harmful to you?

We will explain it on the individual health problems which yo-yo effect can cause. It is a very big shock for the body if you lose weight during a short time, these kilograms are back in a year and more often with the addition. Read about 6 possible negative impacts of yo-yo effect.

1. Causes increased appetite

Fat cells produce hormone leptin which communicates with brain and sends the signals about body having the sufficient amount and brain consequently translates it with the feeling of a full stomach. If you are losing weight, you are losing fat and less fat means less leptin. This is the reason why we feel hunger during diets

In addition, our body slows down all the processes to maintain energy, and that is why in time of quitting diet, you have increased appetite but burn only minimum of calories. This is partially the reason why after several cycles of diet you can expect weight higher than before diet. [1] Let’s have a look at the numbers. People who had lost weight in short time, has gained 30-65% of original weight in one year. [3] In addition, one of three people on diet, gains more kilograms than before diet. [4]

yo-yo effect increased appetite

2. Causes higher proportion of fat and less muscles

In time of yo-yo effect when you are gaining weight back, fat is sticking on you more quickly than the muscles. This causes that percentage of fat is growing two times higher. One analysis of research has confirmed that 11 out of 19 studies has proven predisposition of increased amount of fat, mostly on the belly, as the consequence of yo-yo diet. [5] [6]

The second problem is that while you are losing the excess kilograms, you are losing not only fat but also muscles. [7] If you gain the weight back after diet, fat is gained more easily and this leads to higher loss of muscles eventually. It is hand in hand with weakening of your physical condition and power. [8] If this circle diet-gaining weight is repeated all the time, you’ll gain three times more kilograms composed of fat and minimum of muscles. [1]

Because of this, it is very important to exercise during weight loss. The suitable strength training for the strengthening of muscle is ideal choice in combination with cardio training. Exercising signalises the body to support muscle growth although fat is gradually disappearing out of body. [9] Don’t forget that during weight loss, the need for protein increases in the body. That is why you should reach for quality sources of proteins which can help you to reduce muscle loss. [10] [11]

yo-yo effect - higher proportion of fat and less muscles

3. Increases risk of cardiovascular diseases

Only a few kilograms can cause big changes in your body. You will be predisposed to inflammation which normally help to fight against diseases and infections and this can lead to damage of the heart and resistance of insulin. [1]

Continual changes of the weight are linked with the narrowing of the arteries. [12] Gaining of weight, more than obesity themselve, increases risk of cardiovascular diseases. [14] With regard to study with 9 509 adults, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases is directly dependent upon weight jumping in your weight. More kilograms you lose and gain during yo-yo effect, more risk you are exposed to. [15] Analysis of few studies have shown that big differences in weight over time doubled probability of death for heart failure. [16]

4. Can lead to type 2 diabetes

Each phase of losing weight and gaining weight influences also hormones, concretely stress hormone cortisol. Increased level of cortisol supports fat storage around the belly and this increases the risk of diabetes and heart failures. [1]

Belly fat is linked with diabetes more often than fat in the area of legs, hips or arms. Although the direct coherence of yo-yo effect and diabetes haven’t been proven in researches equally. Intersection of studies has pointed out on the fact that predisposition of type 2 diabetes had confirmed 4 out of 17 studies. [17] [18]

yo-yo effect - diabetes

5. Is the cause of high blood pressure

Gaining of weight, including increasing of weight as the consequence of yo yo effect leads to high blood pressure. What’s worse, yoyo effect can block the healthy benefit of weight loss on the blood pressure in the future.

Study on 66 adults has found out that those who were in a yo-yo diet, had less success at the blood pressure stabilization during weight reduction. [22] However, long time study has claimed that this effect can be lost in 15 years which means that absurd dieting in young age won’t have an effect on health in the middle ages. [23]

6. Causes frustration

It can be very stressful to see that all the hard work and abnegation are gone after diet and the only one that hasn’t left you is yo-yo effect. The fact is that people who experienced yo-yo effect on their own are according to researchers unsatisfied with their life and health. [12]

According to another research, yo-yo effect is not linked with depression, self-harming or negative personal phenomena. [13] Because of this, if you had problems with yo-yo effect in the past, don’t let to feel frustrated because of it. Maybe you had experienced few diets which didn’t work in the past but do not consider it as a failure. It means that it’s time to stand up the yo-yo effect and fight. 

How to fight against yo-yo effect?

If you get rid of the fat from your food, then you get rid of carbohydrates and after that of proteins, your body will feel just like on the rollercoaster. More extreme you undergo, the more problems you are exposed to. As long as your food is not nutritionally rich, it doesn’t provide you all the needed nutrients and this can lead to already mentioned health problems and yo-yo effect. [1]

The specialists don’t agree in what yo-yo effect means for health from the long-time aspect. Some of them claim that it is no big deal, others claim that it endangers everything from the bones to diabetes growth or cardiovascular diseases. It is acomplicated topic but one thing is sure. If you are stuck in yo-yo effect, something is not right and it is time to find healthy way to weight loss. How to do it? 

1. Change the short-time plans to long-time plans

Diets don’t work on the rules stated for the specific time period. Usually you should follow them until you lose weight. Diets will get you into short-term thinking and thanks to this you reach your goal and have nowhere to head. This is why you have to ask the question why you decided to be on the diet. You want to be healthier? You want to lose weight? 

Everything is about change of eating and regular exercising. Both these conditions are long-time run, not sprint, that is why your thinking and planning of changes should be prepared for long-time goals and more often, lifelong journey.

How to fight against yo-yo effect?

2. Choose small, realistic goals

Choose small, realistic goals which you can keep. Instead of minus 3 kilograms in a week, choose a goal to lose weight 0.5 of kilogram per week. Plan in detail how you want to achieve it. Write down your eating plan and buy the ingredients in advance. Begin gradually and slowly and add more and more goals. It is more simple to have motivation when you are ready for success. Which goals you should choose?

We are offering you few exerted rules which arose from the stud on 120 000 adults who lost weight and kept this weight over time. There belongs: [19]

  • Healthy eating: fruit, vegetable, yoghurts, nuts
  • Avoiding of fried food: no fried food, fries and chips
  • Limiting of starch food: only controlled amount of potatoes
  • Exercising: regular training or physical activity which you will enjoy for long-time period
  • Sleep: at least 6-8 hours of sleep during night
  • Less television: elimination of time spent watching TV for 10 hours per week

3. Change your lifestyle

Study on 439 women with overweight confirmed that change of lifestyle can be effective for the fat reduction also within people who have experiences with yo-yo effect and dieting. [20] Consider it as the encouragement that despite dieting and yo-yo effect, you can lose weight. There is a need to change the eating habits, begin to exercise slowly, avoid unhealthy habits and you can achieve it. You can begin with planning of meals from our fitness recipes.

4. Don’t stress for each calorie

Yes, the meaning of this diet is to reduce kilograms the way you control receive and outgo of calories. This is really difficult for the start because you control yourself all the time and despite that, you see no results. Although you are doing everything right, your weight can swing during the day, in the morning you will weigh less than afternoon. Your weight will be dependent upon the hydratation condition and many other factors. Don’t panic. Remember the fact that when you watch your calories receive too much, you will be under more stress which leads to increased cortisol level which causes overeating[2]

Instead of watching each calorie, think of how the healthy food and exercising positively affects the health. You will have more energy and strength, that is why you should notice also small positive effects of your new lifestyle.

5. Support of the people around you is important

It is not only about your strong will. Share your plans with your close family and friends who will definitely support you. You can also join the people from online community and various applications and websites can help too about which you can read in our article about the best fitness websites and apps.

yo-yo effect - support of the people around you is important

If you share your food, recipes and progress with your friends, you will be motivated all the time to improve yourself. At the same time you have less choice to get out of the way and succumb to the temptation. We wish you luck at the fight with yo-yo effect.

Have you experienced yo-yo effect on your own? Write us down how you won over vicious circle of weight gain and weight loss and inspire others. Support the article by sharing if you think that people in your surrounding should change non effective diets for the healthy lifestyle.


[1] Melinda Rattiny - What Happens to Your Body When You Yo-Yo Diet – https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-diet-yo-yo-diet-effect

[2] Healthy weight loss: How to stop the yo-yo effect – https://www.orangefit.nl/en/fit-blog/lifestyle/how-to-stop-the-yo-yo-effect

[3] Dulloo AG, Montani JP - Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: an overview. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25614198

[4] Dulloo AG, Jacquet J, Montani JP, Schutz Y - Ho dieting makes the lean fatter: from a perspective of body composition autoregulation through adipostats and proteinstats awaiting discovery. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25614201

[5] Mackie GM, Samocha-Bonet D, Tam CS - Does weight cycling promote obesity and metabolic risk factors? – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27773644

[6] Bosy Westphal A, Kahlhofer J, Lagerpusch M, Skurk T, Muller MJ - Deep body composition phenotyping during weight cycling: relevance to metabolic efficiency and metabolic risk. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25614202

[7] Berentzen T, Soresen TI Effects of intended weight loss on morbidity and mortality: possible explanations of controversial results. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17131946

[8] Zibelini J, Seimon RV, Gibson AA, Hsu MS, Sainsbury A - Effect of diet-induced weight loss on muscle strength in adults with overweight or obesity - a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27126087

[9] Campbell WW, Leidy HJ - Dietary protein and resistance trainings effects on muscle and body composition in older persons. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18187436

[10] Pasiakos SM, Magolis LM, Orr JS - Optimized dietary strategies to protect skeletal muscle mass during periods of unavoidable energy deficit. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25550460

[11] Dullo AG, Montani JP - Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: an overview – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25614198

[12] Brownell KD, Rodin J - Medical, metabolic, and psychological effects of weight cycling. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8002684

[13] Foster GD, Sarwer DB, Wadden TA - Psychological effects of weight cycling in obese persons: a review and research agenda. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9385625

[14] Lloyd-Jones DM, Liu K, Colangelo LA, Yan LL, Klein L, Loria CM, Lewis CE, Savage P - Consistently stable or decreased body mass index in young adulthood and longitudinal changes in metabolic syndrome components: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17283263

[15] Sripal Bangalore, Rana Fayyad, Rachel Laskey, David DeMicco - Body-weight fluctuations and outcomes in coronary disease – https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1606148

[16] Jeffery RW - Does weight cycling present a health risk? – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8615341

[17] Jean-Pierre Després, Isabelle Lemieux - Abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome – https://www.nature.com/articles/nature05488

[18] Mackie GM, Samocha Bonet D, Tam CS - Does weight cycling promote obesity and metabolic risk factors? – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27773644

[19] Darius Mozzaff – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3151731/

[20] Mason C, Foster-Schubert KE, Imayama I, Xiao L, Kong A, Campbell KL, Duggan CR, Wang CY, Alfano CM, Ulrich CM, Blackburn GL, McTiernan A - History of weight cycling does not impede future weight loss or metabolic improvements in postmenopausal women. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22898251

[21] Matthew Thorpe - 10 solid reasons why Yo-Yo Dieting is bad for you – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/yo-yo-dieting

[22] Hart KE, Warriner EM - Weight loss and biomedical health improvement on a very low calorie diet: the moderating role of history of weight cycling. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15981894

[23] Dyer AR, Stamler J, Greenland P. - Associations of weight change and weight variability with cardiovascular and all-cause mortality in the Chicago Western Electric Company Study. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10968377

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