The growth of social media, reality TV stars and influencers has left people feeling more pressure than ever to ‘look good’ and have an ‘Insta-ready’ body, with yo-yo dieting and crash diets becoming increasingly popular.

As a personal trainer, I encounter the ‘beach body’ mindset frequently – and while there is nothing wrong with wanting to look amazing in your swimwear, it’s important you go about it in the right way.

What is Yo-Yo Dieting?

A yo-yo diet is the process of losing weight rapidly through a strict diet and then putting it back on again just as quickly when the dieter goes back to their usual diet.

A crash diet is similar, in that it involves rapid weight loss through a very strict diet. However, whereas a yo-yo diet goes up and down (just like a yo-yo), a crash diet can lead to weight loss being maintained initially, but the dieter needing to permanently consume a low number of calories to keep the weight off – which is highly unhealthy.

Those who yo-yo diet tend to have periods in their lives, usually when they have an event to prepare for such as a wedding, a party, a holiday or when they are feeling specific emotions such as being unhappy or happy, when they will diet. The cycle means that they then gain weight after the event or the emotional change is over. This can happen at regular intervals throughout a yo-yo dieters’ life. 

The Negative Effects

If you’re considering going down this route yourself, here are a few reasons why it may not be such a good idea. 

1. Yo-Yo Diets and Crash Diets Slow Down Your Metabolism and Can Lead to Weight Gain

Research has proved that your body’s metabolism slows following rapid weight loss, which leads to more weight gain in the long-term.

Your body responds to extreme changes in diet by storing more fat, because it effectively thinks it’s being starved. When you go back to your normal diet, the body will continue to store fat as before, only it’s built up the extra stores too. 

Another reason why you’re likely to gain weight over the longer term is because rapid weight loss leads to increased hunger, and if you’ve been following a strict diet for a fixed period of time, the chances are you’ll slip back into your old habits as soon as you feel hungry again.

2. Yo-Yo Diets and Crash Diets Can Weaken Your Immune System

When you crash diet, you’re depriving your body of essential nutrients. This means that your gut, which is made up of millions of different bacteria, is disrupted, which can potentially lead to conditions developing.

There’s a high chance that you’ll become exhausted and dehydrated, while more serious conditions are possible too if you’re frequently yo-yo or crash dieting. 

3. Yo-Yo Diets and Crash Diets Can Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease

Yo-yo and crash dieting can increase your chances of heart problems, such as palpitations, cardiac stress, and even heart attacks.

The more often you try a crash diet or yo-yo diet, the more likely you are to have issues.

This is because your blood vessels become damaged if they’re constantly shrinking and growing so rapidly. They can develop small tears, which leave them more exposed to potential problems. You’re also likely to suffer a loss of muscle around the heart, leaving it weaker and more vulnerable. 

4. Yo-Yo Diets and Crash Diets Can Cause Mental Frustration

It’s not just physically that your body can suffer, but mentally too. Crash diets and yo-yo diets are generally super strict, so you won’t just be cutting out fatty foods, but healthy foods that you actually enjoy too. 

Combine this with feeling constantly tired and drained, and you’ll soon begin to get frustrated very quickly. 

And of course, this increases the likelihood of you turning to comfort foods and overindulging again.

Why You Can’t Trust Celebrity Endorsements

Next time you’re scrolling through Instagram or watching the latest reality TV show, just remember, those celebrities and influencers you see are being paid to promote crash diets and ‘magic pills and potions”. It’s extremely unlikely they’re actually using the products themselves, they’re simply in it for the money.

And remember, they’re just fads. Every week there’s a new diet on offer, tempting you to try it. But the best thing you can do for long-term sustained weight loss and health, is to enjoy a balanced, healthy diet and take part in lots of exercise.

How to Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

Besides the health risks, the biggest problem with yo-yo dieting and crash diets is that they’re unsustainable.

Living solely on water, cider vinegar, maple syrup or lemon juice might work for a couple of weeks because it’s so extreme, but once it’s over you’re far more likely to gorge yourself on treats than if you’d just been having them occasionally as part of a balanced diet.

Short-term thinking produces short-term results, so if you’re looking to make changes that will last, start making small changes to your diet and lifestyle gradually.

  • Cut back on treats rather than cutting them out completely.
  • Take regular exercise – even a 30-minute walk every day will help
  • Substitute crisps and sweets for healthier alternatives such as nuts and fruit
  • Cook from fresh rather than eating processed ready meals
  • Add some strength and resistance training into your exercise plan
  • Drink lots of water

A healthy amount of weight to lose is around 1-2 pounds per week to maintain your weight loss. It’s important to be patient and look at the changes you make to your diet as long-term lifestyle changes.

The Fitness Room Honeybourne offers a friendly, safe gym environment, personal training, meal plans and support to help you on your fitness journey. 

Call us on 07540 060269 for a free consultation and to find out more about how good nutrition can help you lose weight and keep it off!