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The Yo-Yo Effect

When deciding on a new workout/diet regimen, we usually look to either what we’ve tried in the past (even if it failed), what we see our friends/family/fitness influencers are doing, and what our health professionals tell us to do. We sometimes fall into the cycle of yo-yo dieting and exercising for years and years without realizing it, wondering why we never get to our goal weight, goal strength ability, goal feeling inside our own skin. This constant up and down pattern leads us nowhere and if anything can have detrimental effects on our bodies in the long term. First, for those of you that don’t know what the “yo-yo effect” is, according to Healthline, its "weight cycling," which is the pattern of losing weight, regaining it and then dieting/exercising again.

Here are 3 reasons why the yo-yo effect is something to avoid and how:

1. It actually leads to more weight gain over time

Constantly creating this stress to your body with frequent changes, evokes an inconsistency where your body decides to go into a “safety mode” and gain weight to preserve and protect the body from all the confusion. Stress causes the release of cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine which causes the increase in blood sugar and then causes weight gain. Your body thrives on calculated, intentional, and consistent “stress”, such as exercising regularly and listening to what your body needs while simultaneously feeding your body whole nutritious foods to replenish and nourish your working body.

2. Increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes

The drops and spikes in insulin levels at such a varied rate can cause the risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that the greatest risk is for those who end up in a higher weight after the yo-yoing. As mentioned above, consistency in hormones and blood sugar levels within the body creates the most success. And just the same, the risk for heart disease becomes greater with an increase and/or fluctuation in weight.

3. If you think in the short term, you miss out on the long term benefits

Most regimens/diets/etc are for a certain period of time. The misconception that you workout and for 6 weeks and then magically you don’t have to workout anymore is proven to be very false. Thinking of the long term and making consistent goals with your exercise and diet choices will be proven to be successful. By making permanent lifestyle changes that promote a healthy weight, you can have permanent success and break the yo-yo cycle.


Mackie, Grace M, et al. “Does Weight Cycling Promote Obesity and Metabolic Risk Factors?” Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27773644.

Thorpe, Matthew. “10 Solid Reasons Why Yo-Yo Dieting Is Bad for You.” Healthline.com, 29 May 2017, www.healthline.com/nutrition/yo-yo-dieting#section4.

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