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August 25, 2019 4 min read

If you’ve ever tried to lose a few pounds to fit into your favourite dress or told yourself you’ll loosen your dietary reigns over the weekend but get back on track Monday, you could be yo-yo dieting. Yo-yo dieting involves eating in a way that’s not long-term sustainable, like a juice detox, or limiting your calories to an unhealthy 1,000 per day. While there’s nothing wrong with trying to lose weight and exercising, the way you go about it is crucial, especially when you find out the effects of extreme dieting on your body. Keep reading to find out yo-yo diet side effects, and how it could be messing with your body.   

  1. Hormones

Your hormones are tough to regulate on the best of days, let alone during a yo-yo diet. When you’re severely restricting calories, one of the yo-yo diet side effects is that the body starts releasing extra cortisol, a stress hormone that unfortunately can cause a raging appetite. So once your diet is over, you’ll have an excess of cortisol floating around which can cause continued weight gain, not to mention more stress (which we’re tempted to alleviate with overeating). 

Proper nutrition based on a balanced diet is one of the most powerful ways to keep your hormones in check. In fact, unlike yo-yo dieting, there’s an eating paradigm that can actually promote optimal hormonal healthy. That’s right: intermittent fasting has been shown to help balance hormones, thereby helping you lose more fat, gain more muscle, sleep better, and generally life a happier, healthier life than many other diets. And that’s because it’s not a diet, but a way of structuring your eating. There is actually nothing you can’t eat! And don’t get freaked out by the term fasting: we’re not talking fasting of Ghandi-like proportions. Intermittent fasts typically only last 16 hours of the day and at least half of that time you are sleeping. During your fasts you can drink water or black tea and coffee, but nothing else. However, during your eight hour eating window, you eat--and eat almost non-stop. As mentioned, no type of food is off-limits, though of course you should aim to eat mostly clean, healthy food. This dietary freedom is why intermittent fasting is the antithesis of yo-yo dieting: you don’t restrict anything you eat, simply when you eat. You can eat pizza, ribs, tacos, ice cream, fries. Many people find intermittent fasting opens the door to more guilt-free food freedom than ever before. You can learn more about intermittent fasting here. If you want to try intermittent fasting for yourself, grab our Fast & Furiously Fit ebook, complete with 40+ delicious recipes to help you get started. Use promo code FASTED30 for 30% off. 

  1. Metabolism

Ahh, the old metabolism. Such a tricky thing to master. But yo-yo dieting is definitely not doing the metabolism any favours; in fact, it’s wreaking havoc on your metabolic rate, which is how fast your body burns calories. When you restrict your body too much on calories, your body responds by lowering this rate since it thinks it’s going into a fasting period and should store all possible fuel for the future. While yo-yo dieting may not permanently change your body’s metabolic rate, one of the yo-yo diet side effects is that your metabolic rate won’t magically jump back to how it was before the diet, so you may gain back several pounds before it readjusts, causing you to want to start another crash diet to get rid of them.

  1. Nutrient Deficiencies

You probably don’t often worry about the amount of nutrients you’re getting from your food, but if you yo-yo diet, you should definitely be thinking about them. After all, you’re probably eating as little as possible and what you do eat probably is as light and calorie-free as you can get. But these foods aren’t likely chock full of nutrients, so you’re at risk of causing damage to your bones, skin, and immune function by depriving your body of all the vital nutrients it needs. One of the yo-yo diet side effects can be brittle nails, hair loss, bone damage, and an increase in sickness.


  1. Body Composition

While aggressively restricting your calories will definitely cause you to lose fat, you’ll also lose hard-earned muscle. You can’t control what your body chooses to burn for fuel when it’s severely restricted on calories, so you’re bound to lose some muscle as a yo-yo diet side effect. When you start eating normally again, your body will convert the excess calories to fat, not muscle, which means this diet can cause your entire body composition to change for the worse. 

Try a meal plan to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients and calories for your body to thrive, and think about workouts as a way to maintain your lean body mass instead of just losing weight. Find out more diet blunders here, and how you could be accidentally sabotaging your goal weight. 

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