Many of us who are struggling with our weight have experienced the yo-yo effect. That up and down cycle of working so hard to lose weight on a diet just to go through the disappointment of gaining it all back (plus some) when the diet is done. After experiencing this enough, sustainable weight loss can seem impossible. Though it can be hard to believe, you can lose weight and avoid the yo-yo effect.
Learning how to break out of this cycle starts with understanding why it happens. When you alter your diet and begin eating less calories it has an effect on your metabolic rate. If you were eating around 2000 calories a day before your diet and then drop down to 1200 calories a day to lose weight your body will adapt. After the diet is over, your body will need less calories than it did before. If you used to be able to maintain your weight eating 2000 calories a day, now you might need to eat 1800 calories a day to maintain your weight and consuming more than that will result in weight gain. Much of the weight gain that results after a diet is due to this change in your body.
Another contributing factor to the yo-yo effect is that our bodies are designed to stay around a set weight point. When you lose weight quickly, your body will react by producing hormones that make you feel hungrier in an attempt to get you back to that old set point. The quicker you lose weight, the stronger your body will react when you finish your diet. The hungrier you are, the more you will eat and the more your calorie intake will increase leading to more weight gain.
Knowing this itself can be relieving. While many of us feel like we are responsible for this yo-yo effect, it is important to realize that there are physiological factors at work. When you understand this it allows you to adapt, and outsmart your body, so that you can maintain your weight loss. Here is how you can break out of this cycle:
Lose Weight Gradually
When you lose weight more gradually, 1-2 pounds a week, you are able to reset your body’s set weight point. Meaning that your body will not make you as hungry and will allow you to sustain your new weight more easily.
Combine Healthy Eating with Exercise
The combination of healthy eating and exercise will keep your metabolism running at a higher rate. You will not have to reduce your calorie intake as greatly to lose weight and you will not have to eat as low calorie of a diet afterward to maintain your weight loss.
Thinking Long Term & Establishing a Sustainable Healthy Lifestyle
Throughout the process of losing weight it is important to develop healthy habits that you will be able to maintain long afterward. After you have reached your weight loss goal you will be able to eat a more relaxed diet but you will always have to watch your calories and stay active. The process of losing weight should positively transform both your body and lifestyle, from establishing an exercise routine that you enjoy to discovering healthy foods that you have come to love.