Is Dieting Bad For Your Health?

You may have seen in the news recently articles about yo-yo dieting linked to increased rates of heart attack and stroke, even in otherwise healthy people. This isn’t the first time medical studies have linked yo-yo dieting to negative outcomes for your health.

Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash
What is Yo-Yo Dieting?

This is when you start a diet and lose weight but then put the weight back on presumably because you stopped the diet or it was a short term diet like a cleanse. This can happen when you do extreme diets like a 7 day cleanse, or a 30 day challenge if you’re not able to maintain the changes you made long term. Although your weight can go up and down for various reasons, it’s generally assumed that for most people it’s from changes in your diet.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
Why Is Yo-Yo Dieting Bad?

The recent news articles about yo-yo dieting are based on a recent study that came out in the medical journal Circulation.  This study looked at about 6.7 million healthy people, so that’s a large study. The study showed that weight variability (which can be caused by yo-yo dieting) can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, and can also negatively affect your blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels. Some of this information confirms prior data from smaller studies that yo-yo dieting can be bad for you long term.

Based on study data yo-yo dieting could also lead you to be overall heavier or to lose less weight long term. One theory is that if there’s a lot of variability in your weight it could lead to a long term break down in your body weight regularity system, so that ends up making it harder for you to lose weight long term.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
What Can You Do About It?

The best thing to do is to make healthy changes slowly to how you eat. I know that’s not as exciting as doing a cleanse or challenge and it’s harder to post about on Instagram or Twitter, but it will be healthier for you long term. You could start with even eating one healthier meal one day a week and then every week increase the number of healthy meals you’re eating.

This is so you can maintain these changes long term, but also so you can troubleshoot problems along the way. For example what to do when you have unexpected meetings that throw off your eating schedule, or how to eat a healthy breakfast when you’re on vacation, and so on. If you’re doing it gradually you can figure how to overcome different obstacles in your life that are keeping you from eating healthy.

P.S. Here’s the YouTube version of this post.

Want more science backed health and nutrition advice? Sign up for the email list here.