Is Your Diet Obsession Making You Fat?
  • Allison Fahrenbach

Is Your Diet Obsession Making You Fat?

I have to be 100% honest with this post.


Dropping and regaining weight over and over could do more long-term damage than you realize. It doesn't matter if it's 50lbs or 15lbs, when you consistently lose weight, gain it back, re-lose it, and re-gain it, you are creating a MYRIAD of long term psychological and physiological problems.


Four realities of yo-yo dieting you need to hear

Statistically speaking, when most people use a short-term diet or quick fix method to lose weight, they will regain 30–65% of that lost weight within one year.


Within five years all or MORE of the weight lost will be gained back.

In fact one in three dieters ends up heavier than before they dieted.


Because of this fact, recent science is indicating that society's obsession with "dieting" is likely a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic sweeping our nation.


We all know losing weight (if you're overweight) makes you healthier while gaining weight makes you unhealthier. Yo-yo dieting however, is somewhere in between. While it's still conflicting, some science has indicated that yo-yo dieting or losing and gaining weight over and over and over is associated with many of the same health dangers as being overweight or obese.


Physiologically, yoyo dieting or weight cycling impairs insulin sensitivity and increases insulin resistance, making you great at getting fat and not so great at getting lean. Over time it also dramatically decreases your metabolic rate, making weight management that much harder with every weight loss and regain cycle.


When done properly, weight loss programs allow for the body to adapt and catch up to the internal changes and patterns without being overstressed, while still yielding results. But when there are too many changes or the adjustments to your eating and training routine are too extreme, your body resists because it’s fearful that there’s a problem.


For example cortisol rises. Cortisol is a hormone that both INCREASES fat storage and DECREASES fat loss. The adrenal glands become over-stimulated. Leptin increases. Hormones become imbalanced (studies have shown women can even have decreased thyroid output) and hunger levels become unpredictable.


To complicate matters, any form of intense training or excessive cardio will only further fatigue and damage metabolic activity. The harder you push, the more the body pushes back making weight management next to impossible, and over time, these unhealthy exercise and diet patterns that result in weight loss and weight gain wind up making you fatter and unhealthier.


How?


1- Yo yo dieting increases bodyfat.

A majority of studies show yo-yo dieting leads to a higher bodyfat percentage. During the weight gain phase of yo-yo dieting, fat is regained more easily than muscle mass. This can result in your bodyfat percentage increasing over multiple yo-yo cycles. In one review, 11 out of 19 studies found that a history of yo-yo dieting predicted higher body fat percentage and greater belly fat. Which leads me to my next point....


2- It increases visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat in the body that collects in the midsection, surrounds the internal organs, and wraps around the heart. This type of fat is normal is small amounts but is very dangerous as it increases. Visceral fat is metabolized by the liver and ultimately turns into blood cholesterol, which collects in the arteries and narrows them. These clogged arteries can eventually lead to angina, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiac symptoms. Visceral fat is also responsible for the release of hormones that trigger insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, systematic inflammation, heart disease, and other cardiovascular diseases.


3- It causes your appetite to skyrocket.

The hormones in your body that are responsible for appetite regulation are leptin, which signals fullness or satiety, and ghrelin which signals hunger. Studies have shown people who lose and regain weight over the course of months and years, repeatedly, tended to have higher levels of leptin and lower levels of grhelin than people who lost weight and kept it off.

This is likely because both long term caloric restriction AND short term fasting both INCREASE ghrelin (hunger hormone) and DECREASE leptin (satiety hormone). Science has also shown that in overfat or obese individuals, there is an abundance of ghrelin and a lack of leptin, which essentially means that in overweight individuals the body's natural appetite mechanisms become disturbed and unbalanced.


An increased appetite can only be fended off for so long. If your body is prompting you to eat, it's only a matter of time before you wind up succumbing to over-eating.


4- It causes your body to lose muscle. The loss of muscle resulting from chronic weight loss and regain is a large contributor the metabolic inefficiency that results. While your extreme diet may initially promote fat loss, in the long term you will likely regain that fat and more. In addition, extreme diets lead to muscle wasting, which means once you fall back to your normal eating habits, you'll be left with a physique that lacks muscle and carries excess fat. Muscle is ACTIVE tissue- which means it increases your body's ability to burn calories, even at rest. Therefore lack of adequate lean muscle means a slower metabolism which makes you less efficient at caloric usage and more efficient at caloric storage.


The bottom line is short term thinking prevents you from making long term changes that last. In your rush for immediate results, you will fail to use sustainable methods that will help create permanent weight loss. Remember that rigid rules and extreme measures set you up to fail because the methods you're using are unsustainable. And if unsustainable it means inevitably, at some point you will slip BACK into old habits. Except now, when you do, you will have downregulated your metabolism, lost muscle, decreased your insulin sensitivity, increased your appetite and likely gained bodyfat.


To break the cycle of temporary changes producing temporary success, stop thinking in terms of a diet and start thinking in terms of a lifestyle. Don't try to lose weight by doing something you can't sustain indefinitely. And when I say "Stop dieting” it doesn’t mean “stop caring about food.” It means “stop severely restricting food/calories in order to lose weight.”


Remember being cognoscente of what goes in your mouth doesn't mean severe caloric restriction. Eating well isn’t dieting; it’s just eating.

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