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The Impact of Yo Yo Dieting to ones Health

No one can understand a person’s plight with their weight unless he/she has experienced a similar situation. Many overweight people diet to lose those extra pounds/kilos since they are neither healthy nor happy with their appearance. Most dieters, unfortunately, once they lose the extra weight tend to gain it back. Unfortunately, quite often the extra weight regained is more than the original amount. This is due to the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting.

So what are the dangers that this vicious cycle poses? Due to the fact that weight gain and loss often range from 5-10 lbs per cycle to 50lbs or more, certain research associates weight cycling with some health risks. For a start, studies suggest that it may increase the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and gallbladder disease.

Perhaps more significantly, is the pessimistic psychological effect of becoming discouraged after gaining the weight back. As a matter of fact, becoming dispirited and by extent depressed, is usually the reason behind the weight gain to begin with. Take a closer look at the process and the dangers that come with it:

1-Great risk of health problems:

There is a greater risk of heart disease and even certain cancers due to reduced levels of specialized immune system cells.

2- Liver problems & loss of muscle

When blood sugar level is high, insulin is released to tell the body to put the excess blood sugar into the tissues. It instructs the body to ‘store’ the excess sugar in the form of glycogen. Then it orders the liver cells that make glucose to stop making it and tells the liver and fat cells to make fat.

In contrast, when blood sugar level is low, the hormone glucagon will tell the body storage areas (the liver mostly) to start releasing glucose into the blood stream. What it does, in simple words, is it instructs the liver to ‘stop doing what insulin has commanded because glucagon is now in charge.’ This in essence blocks the production of fat and the storage of glucose.

Then the hormone glucagon is released and the body feeds on its own lean muscle mass for fuel since it has been restricted of carbohydrates. Remember that fat is mainly burned within muscle.

3- Fatigue of metabolic rate

Many out there go on strict diets limiting fat and carbohydrates. This does not only bring on mood swings, increased stress, anger, binge eating or even depression but it also plays havoc on metabolism. In other words, the metabolic rate slows down and due to the on/off cycle eventually malfunctions (this includes over exercising).

4- Risk of osteoporosis

Such regimens low in much needed nutrients increase the risk of osteoporosis, fractures and broken bones. A lack of vitamin D from dairy products, eggs, liver or fatty fish will usually do the trick. If one is obese (BMI over 30), it is wise to lose just enough weight to be considered risk free. However, it is well known that fat (not in great excess) protects delicate bones from fractures at older ages. Keep in mind that osteoporosis is quite painful as well as limiting.

5- Weakness

In extreme cases (some people fast by drinking only fluids for a number of days), there may be fainting and slower heart rates which results in weakness. At this point the blood sugar has plunged and hunger cravings have augmented. This is the ‘I can and will eat a horse’ stage.

6- Overeating

Back to the starting point. The person actually putting himself/herself through the process will by now have had the cake and eaten it too. Understandable, isn’t it?

7- Insulin steps in

Once the body can no longer stand the deprivation and it resorts to overeating or eating what has been restricted (e.g. sweets/carbohydrates), the blood sugar surges and insulin is released. Here we go again!

8- Weight gain

Due to a slower metabolism and loss of lean muscle (loss of muscle can be due to lack of exercise or too much of it) the person not only gains the weight back but usually more than he/she had to lose at the start.

So what’s a person to do? Because overeating is a state of mind, one should consult a specialist. That is a psychiatrist, physician or dietician who can combine both needs: a) putting the mind straight; finding the why behind the overeating and b) prescribing a diet that is suitable to the individual’s habits and routines.

Until the appropriate specialist can be found, try focusing on what kind of daily food regimen compliments one’s lifestyle. The key is to be able to follow it for about 10 years. Quantum is a key idea to adopt. That is make small steps of progress with great rewards.

For instance:

*Vow to reduce 100 calories from the diet this week, another 100 next week or whenever it is deemed feasible. This can be done simply by drinking one less high calorie beverage, or reducing the three or four chocolate bars a week to one and let it be your great reward.

*Add exercise. When exercising it increases the metabolic rate, improves blood circulation (less cellulite) and it brings on a natural high. Body building in older ages builds bone mass.

*Be kind to oneself. When a friend asks for support the usual reaction is to comfort and assure that friend, even in the most miserable of states the reaction is to support and not reprimand. So why not be that considerate to oneself?

In the end, perhaps it would be wise to view one’s body as one’s vehicle. One which will be necessary to have throughout a lifetime, unable to exchange it for another. Does that not make it one’s most prized possession in need of compassion and care?