Yo-Yo Dieting: Why Fad Diets Don't Work

Written by Jamie, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist


  • Yo-yo diets lead to extra weight, more fat and increased risk for health problems
  • Our caveman metabolism?
  • 2 million years ago a metabolic switch was pulled
  • Real change is needed for lasting weight-loss success
  • Almased helps us curb cravings, burn fat and retain muscle as part of a new approach to overall health

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly half of Americans surveyed between 2013 and 2016 said they tried to lose weight in the past year.

Fact is, over 95 percent of people who experiment with fad diets aren’t able to achieve their health, calorie-burn or fat-loss goals.

While most people use a fad diet to lose weight, from 30 to 65 percent of that lost weight will be regained within one year.

Even worse, one in three yo-yo dieters wind up even heavier than they were before they dieted!

This weight gain falls into the up-swing of the weight-cycling yo-yo, often setting up dieters for yet another cycle of down-swing weight loss before the next up-swing.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

But why does this happen? Are these diets so bad or is there something else going on?

Many of these fad or extreme diets are truly not safe or sustainable for the long term, as they often eliminate entire food groups, like fat or carbs, or call for massive amounts of a specific food group, like keto — which calls for a diet of 75 percent fat!

Humans — Caveman Wiring for A Modern World

Part of the problem is how humans are wired. Our metabolism and fat-storing mechanisms just don’t do well with yo-yo dieting.

During dieting, fat loss brings on lower levels of the hormone leptin, which would normally help us feel full.

Ideally, our fat stores release leptin into the bloodstream, which tells the body that energy is available, which then signals us to eat less.

As we lose fat, leptin decreases and appetite increases. This brings on increased appetite, since the body is scrambling to resupply energy reserves.

But if we don’t reach for the right foods, we also lose muscle during dieting, which we don’t want.

And caveman wiring makes the body hold on to energy reserves and to do everything in its power to get those fat stores back, because the body thinks that it is starving and goes into heavy-duty “let’s get back to the way the body was before” mode.

It’s All About Evolution — or the 2-Million-Year-Old Metabolic Switch

We can blame a lot of this on evolution.

The human body was always great at doing everything possible to prevent our ancestors from starving — thanks to a lower-weight-level minimum or boundary.

Because if we just hunted a big mammoth, it was likely that everybody would pig out while the feasting was good, so our lean-focused metabolism had a cap, or upper-weight level limit, on extra pounds.

That was until 2 million years ago, that is, which was when a big part of our metabolism switched.

The human species — maybe somehow sensing that we weren’t being hunted as much anymore and could afford to pack on some extra padding in between our wanderings — our upper-weight level limit switch (and our fat accumulation limit along with it) was turned off.

This change in how our metabolism is hard-wired is part of something called “genetic drift.”

In fact, it’s been called a “major driver” in today’s obesity epidemic.

Putting the “Yo Yo” Back in the Toy Box

While the Yo-Yo toy definitely has its place, we should put yo-yo dieting back in its box for good, as constant weight-cycling is no fun at all.

In fact, most studies have proven that yo-yo dieting leads to an increased percentage of body fat, which brings on other biochemical and metabolic changes that make it harder to lose weight.

In some research, yo-yo dieting also jacks up the risk of diabetes, with the chances of this greater for those who wind up at a higher weight than before their diet.

Heart disease risk also increases with yo-yo-fluctuating weight. The more the change in weight, the worse the risk.

On top of everything else, it also seems that yo-yo dieting can negatively change the number and types of bacteria inside our gut, also called our gut microbiome, which is important for immunity and so many other aspects of health.

All in all, yo-yo dieting is a cycle of temporary “fixes” that produce temporary results.

To stop the weight-cycling merry-go-round, we want to start thinking in terms of long-lasting dietary and lifestyle changes.

Shifting Your Mindset, Embracing Health

The real solution for losing weight and staying healthy should include a real change in eating habits. Anything else is a band-aid fix and that’s not much of a solution at all.

The good news — there is a way to fit new healthy hacks into your life with as little disruption as possible. You can change a little or a lot, but it all depends on your goals.

What matters most is the end goal of establishing new healthier habits that last for the long-term.

Almased also knows a thing or two about dieting. If you follow the 4-Phase Figure Plan, you not only keep the metabolism active for more effortless weight loss but you can sustain those results once the initial “diet” is over.

Almased is a calorie-controlled diet, while still providing your body with high protein for muscle retention and cravings reduction — helping to prevent yo-yo dieting.

Almased is able to help you reduce calories and lose weight safely. Plus, Almased shakes and smoothies give a lasting feeling of fullness, or satiety, that stays with you for hours.

Forget Those Calorie-Counting Diets!

Almased helps you to reset both your metabolism and your appetite, so you can keep your ideal weight without the yo-yo bounce back.

Dieting seems so much easier when you don’t have to count calories!

And there’s also the factor of “decision fatigue.” Like, salad or veggie sticks? Can I have dressing with that? Could I swap a slice of bread for some ice cream? It's way too much thinking about food.

If you tend to eat emotionally or compulsively, the Almased plan helps you sidestep those food decisions, leaving your mind free to focus on less stressful things.

In fact, Almased is in your corner even when you’re tackling body-image and food issues since it can help you break the cycle of self-sabotage.

You can establish a new relationship with food and create healthier eating habits with Almased, starting today!

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