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Yo-Yo dieting = Detrimental weight loss!

Written by Kevin, Nutritionist (M.Sc. Medical Science)

In an ideal world we would all choose a quick-fix solution for weight loss. Unfortunately, effective weight reduction isn't something that can be achieved overnight. Committed behaviour change and long-term, sustainable improvements to both diet and lifestyle are key to any weight loss which is going to last.

Typically, diets that cause a significant depletion in calories may result in rapid weight loss, yet simply fail to provide long-lasting solutions. If calorie-intake dips too low, it can starve the body of vital nutrients and lead to an impaired metabolism, loss of essential muscle, low energy levels and even weight gain!

Constant yo-yo dieting will eventually slow down all metabolic activity making it difficult to not only lose weight but also maintain any weight already lost. With such detrimental dietary fluctuations, the body learns to become extremely efficient in utilising any food it consumes. Fewer calories are burned at rest and once regular eating habits resume, this can result in greater fat storage and ultimately, weight gain. In addition, rapid weight loss and depletion in muscle mass are often observed, as most weight loss experienced tends to be that of muscle and water, rather than fat stores. In order to achieve, healthy long-term weight loss, the retention of muscle is of paramount importance.


Why is the retention of muscle so important for healthy weight loss?

Our body's muscle mass is not only a direct indicator of strength and functionality, it is also a key component in metabolic health, bone strength and indicator of overall health. Also important to note, muscle is more metabolically active than fat, which means that there is greater calorie expenditure in people with increased lean muscle. Additionally, if the body has a higher proportion of lean muscle, there is less space for fat storage; this is why maintaining a healthy weight and the retention of muscle should go hand in hand.


Key summary:

  • Weight loss is unsustainable if it is too sudden; avoid crash diets where too few calories are consumed.
  • Maintain a healthy calorie deficit and gradually increase energy intake to avoid sudden weight gain.
  • Yo-Yo dieting does slow down the metabolism.
  • Weight loss should be gradual and healthy, in order to maintain lean muscle mass.
  • Maintenance of muscle is important for sustainable weight loss and overall health.
  • Be consistent with healthy diet and lifestyle choices.
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