'Yo-Yo Dieting' Can Lead to Chronic Diseases

      July 29, 2016 13:04

      Losing and regaining weight repeatedly can cause several health problems. Below are some of the health risks associated with "yo-yo dieting" that people should be aware of, and some advice on maintaining a healthy body weight.

      ◆ Health Risks

      The "yo-yo effect" is most often the result of dieting by abruptly slashing food intake or eating only one type of food.

      Doing so can cause the dieter to lose muscle, which is eventually replaced by fat; the resulting rise in body fat can lead to increased insulin resistance.

      Park Min-seon at Seoul National University Hospital said, "Increased insulin resistance leads to a rise in the blood sugar level. Exercise can prevent this by strengthening muscles, but drastic dieting makes it difficult to exercise, creating a vicious circle and leading to chronic diseases like diabetes and dyslipidemia."

      Drastically reducing fat intake can weaken the functioning of the gallbladder, causing gallstones, particularly cholesterol stones.

      ◆ How to Lower the Risks

      The yo-yo effect is mainly the result of the body's response to a sudden change in conditions. The body treats an extreme restriction of food intake or a sudden surge in exercise as an emergency, and stores fat by decreasing basal metabolism and energy expenditure. The body maintains this state even after the dieter returns to normal eating, causing weight gain.

      The body needs time to respond to changes in external conditions. "Dieters are advised to lose weight slowly; a maximum of 10 percent of their weight over three months," Park said. "After achieving the goal, they also need to gradually return to normal eating and exercise patterns."

      To prevent muscle loss while dieting, ensure that every meal includes sources of protein and carbohydrates.

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