If you’ve attempted to lose weight in the past, then you might be aware of the fact that successfully keeping that weight off permanently isn’t necessarily easy. Frankly, when it comes to people who have lost a lot of weight, research and studies have shown that 80% start to put weight back on within a year, according to Scientific American.
Beyond that, people tend to gain back over half of the weight within two years. When they lose weight and regain it again, they can become caught in a cycle of what’s known as yo-yo dieting.
Although there’s no doubt that yo-yo dieting can be frustrating, a new study that was presented at the Experimental Biology Conference by the American Physiological Society (via Medical News Today) proves that yo-yo dieting can also seriously harm your heart.
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While testing the effect of recurrent weight loss and weight gain on rodents by restricting calories for a time before upping the amount that the animals again ate and repeating this three times to set up the same situation as yo-yo dieting, researchers found that the animals suffered from multiple negative health issues. That included a decrease in the proper function of the heart and a higher likelihood of developing cardiometabolic disease.
“The body is very flexible and it tends to adjust but if it’s a chronic situation some organs can lose the adjustment ability,” Aline MA de Souza, Ph.D., one of the authors of the study and Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, told Medical News Today.
“The findings from this study correlate with the results of similar studies about weight cycling, also known as yo-yo dieting,” Anna Rios, RDN, tells Eat This, Not That! “Weight cycling is harmful to the body’s metabolism and can disrupt hormones, and various other organ functions.”
Rios explains, “Dieting, and weight fluctuations cause major stress on the body, therefore producing high levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol can cause inflammation within the body and result in a higher risk of cardiometabolic disease.”
If you want to avoid yo-yo dieting, Rios suggests “avoiding trendy diets, most weight-loss diets, or highly restrictive diets. Consult with a registered dietitian to learn about eating balanced in a way that is sustainable and healthy.”
Beyond that, Rios points out that “most diets that promise quick weight loss include keto, Atkins, and paleo. These diets will affect your relationship with food and possibly cause weight cycling because of how restrictive they are.” Instead, Rios says, “It’s best to learn mindful eating and intuitive eating for a healthy mind and heart.”
To find out more about how to avoid unhealthy weight loss and weight gain-related habits, be sure to read 10 Ways To Stop Yo-Yo Dieting.