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Why is yo-yo dieting a bad idea?

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

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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...

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.  

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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.