Yo-Yo Dieting Is Bad for Your Heart (and Your Emotions)

desert-tortoiseWeight cycling, more commonly known as yo-yo dieting, can cause serious damage to your body—not to mention your emotional distress.

First of all, it’s very stressful on your body (not to mention your emotions!). Our bodies are amazingly adaptable, but they function best when they’re in a routine. When we are on-again-off-again with fad diets and semi-starving ourselves of calories, the body works extra hard figuring out when to store energy and when to burn energy.

That strain causes increased levels of cortisol, a hormone that, among other tasks, helps the body use protein (your muscles) and glycogen for energy in stressful situations. High cortisol itself is not harmful. In fact, it can reduce inflammation. But prolonged periods of elevated cortisol levels can cause a litany of problems in the body, such as increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and a decrease in lean muscle tissue in the body.

But cortisol is not the only way yo-yo dieting increases the risk of heart disease. Eighty percent of people who use weight cycling to lose pounds gain all of it back—and usually more—within two years. The weight fluctuations increase your body fat percentage, which damages the blood vessels, which leads to high blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular event, which is not good!

If you want to lose weight, take the same sensible approach as the tortoise did: slow and steady. Create a gradual plan to make real lifestyle changes, not just starve yourself or go on an exercise binge. The changes you make will benefit your overall health and well-being, not just your waistline.

by Missy Darden and Jana Hunter

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