Have you ever experienced the problem of “yo-yo” weight fluctuations? When you diet and lose weight for a relatively short period of time only to regain it all back, maybe even more, soon after you finish your diet?
You may believe there is no long-term hope for you, that you will continue this “yo-yo” pattern forever. But there is good news for you in a recent study from Seattle, Washington (USA).
Dr. Anne McTiernan, of the University of Washington School of Public Health and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, carried out a study to see if “yo-yo” dieters are capable of keeping weight down in the long term. They also did metabolic tests to see if these individuals do any permanent harm to their insulin levels (which controls blood sugar), or the hormones that control hunger and the feeling of fullness.
She and her colleagues took a group of 439 women and randomly assigned them to 4 groups, and each group carried out one of these programs for one year:
1) decreased calorie diet;
2) increased exercise (mostly brisk walking, at least 30 min./day);
3) both the diet and increased exercise;
4) no change in either diet or exercise (the “control” group).
The goal was to lose 10% of their starting weight, and the groups 1) and 3) were successful. The women on diet alone lost an average of 9% of their initial body weight, and the diet plus exercise group lost an average 11%. Exercise alone was not sufficient.
The researchers also found that whether or not individual woman had a history of yo-yo dieting had no effect on the end result. About 42% of the women had a history of the yo-yo effect (meaning a history of three or more episodes of losing at least 4.5 kilos only to gain it back). But that did not matter if they were faithful to the current program. Even with the yo-yo history they were just as likely to be successful.
Further, the researchers found no other metabolic differences in the women with or without the history of weight cycling: their blood pressure, the levels of their hunger/satiety hormones, and insulin levels were the same with or without the yo-yo history.
So the lesson is: don’t be embarrassed (it affects about 40% of people) if you have experienced the yo-yo effect in your life. And don’t be discouraged. You can still go on a calorie-restricted diet, preferably with additional exercise, and one time a diet can work for you, and you will keep the weight off long-term. Keep trying and keep walking!
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