Yo-yo dieting or weight cycling is defined as the loss and regain of body weight repeatedly as a result of dieting. A weight cycle may include small weight losses and gains ranging from 5-10 pounds per cycle to large losses and gains of 50 pounds or more per cycle.
Yo-yo dieting is very unhealthy. In fact, studies have linked yo-yo dieting to certain health risks. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2017 highlights how yo-yo dieting doubles the risk of heart attack or stroke. For people who already have heart disease, yo-yo dieting increases the risk of death from a heart attack or stroke. Researchers gathered data from over 9,509 people with heart disease over several years. Their findings suggest that there is a correlation between weight fluctuation and increased risk of coronary disease in individuals who are already at a high risk for heart disease. This particular group that was studied incurred double the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death compared to those whose experience weight fluctuations of less than 2 pounds. Researchers are not sure why weight cycling or yo-yo dieting contributes to the increased risk of heart disease or stroke. They do have some ideas though.
Researchers believe that it may be attributed to the increase in cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol can impact blood pressure, insulin levels, and cholesterol levels. Blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol are all risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke.
People tend to give up when they attempt to lose weight the healthy way by eating good foods and exercising but do not reach their weight-loss goal. The results of the study should encourage people to set realistic goals for themselves and encourage themselves and others not to give up. The study points to the importance of losing weight with a healthy mindset, too. The results of the study also point to the importance of not only losing weight but working hard to keep the weight off. As we age and our metabolism slows down, it becomes even more difficult to keep weight off. These are just some more reasons why losing weight and reinventing your lifestyle are so beneficial to long-term health and wellness.