Why is yo-yo dieting a bad idea?

Brad Lamm
Addiction Medicine
There was a day not so long ago that big bones and sexy curves were the mark of success. Poor people were skinny, and those that were plush, wore their financial success from all the food they could afford to consume, on their hips, butts and bodies!

So welcome to the no-mo-yo-yo-diet. I want you to get off the diet yo-yo altogether and instead, eat differently while pealing back the emotional layers that contribute to how and why you eat.

My own healthy eating plan is from my book JUST 10 LBS and it focusses on eating differently while getting into the emotional underpinnings to how, why, what and when you eat! The center of my change plan is the Love-Centered Diet. It's a sensible, plant-heavy, lean-protein, low-carb way to eat and live lighter. Check out for more info.

I want you to focus on a doable, achievable goal and this is just what JUST 10 LBS will do for you! The health benefits you'll receive are so immediate from losing ten pounds, that momentum will build as you continue to get to your ultimate goal weight.

Yo-yo or crash dieting is not recommended by any health or nutrition expert as a safe and effective way to lose weight. Studies have shown that when people dramatically cut their caloric intake the body begins to shut down functions in the body and breaks down muscle tissue in an effort to slow metabolism as a self defense mechanism against what it sees as going through a famine. When people inevitably go off this crash diet their metabolism has slowed down significantly and much of the weight they have lost is the muscle instead of fat. As you start to eat a normal diet, your sluggish metabolism will put on the majority of the weight gained back as fat and not as muscle, as you return to your original date your metabolism is slower and your body is now carrying fatter  than it originally did. If you repeatedly follow this pattern over time you will lose much of your original muscle mass, gain a significant amount of fat, and have a very sluggish metabolism that makes losing fat very difficult. Nutrition and health experts recommend that in order to lose weight and fat safely and effectively that people combine mild caloric restriction with increased physical activity and strive to lose between .5. and 1 pound a week. This slow and gradual process will allow you to lose fat while sparing your lean muscle mass and maintaining your metabolic rate.  

Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
Yo-yo dieting is not a good idea due to the fact that the most successful way to lose weight is to make healthy lifestyle changes and lose weight gradually. Yo-yo dieting happens when people lose and gain weight repeatedly.  

When people lose and gain weight there is no change in body composition unless someone has been on a starvation diet of less than 1000 calories a day. When they gain the weight back, the body will become more efficient at storing fat and they could end up gaining even more weight back.

There is some evidence that yo-yo dieting (or a cycling diet) will lower HDL or good cholesterol. The Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, found that when 485 women were stratified into four groups according to weight, those who were obese and cycled with their weight had the lowest HDL cholesterol levels.  Those who were not obese and did not cycle had the highest levels.

Yo-yo dieting may also increase blood pressure.  There are multiple animal studies and human studies that confirm this. The well-known Nurses Health Study noted that weight cycling was strongly associated with elevated body weight and weight gain over a 4-year period of assessment and strongly associated with hypertension.

The key is to keep the weight off for life by making healthy choices when it comes to food and exercise.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
When you lose weight without exercise, you lose both muscle and fat, but when you gain weight without exercise, you only gain fat. It's much easier to gain fat weight than it is to gain muscle weight, which is one of the reasons why yo-yo dieting fails so miserably: When you continually gain and lose and gain and lose, you end up gaining proportionally even more fat—because of the muscle loss that takes place every time you lose.
YOU: On A Diet Revised Edition: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management

More About this Book

YOU: On A Diet Revised Edition: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management

For the first time in our history, scientists are uncovering astounding medical evidence about dieting -- and why so many of us struggle with our weight and the size of our waists. Now researchers...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.