Weight Cycling and Diabetes: Expectations vs. Reality
Yo-Yo dieting, also known as weight cycling, creates havoc in the body. Many people have lost the same 20 pounds, 20 times over. Wouldn’t it be better to just live with that same 20 pounds and still be healthy?
When you awaken, a hormone called ghrelin is released so your brain knows it’s time to eat. Then after you have eaten, leptin is released from your body fat to give you the sensation of fullness. These hormones help to maintain a healthy body weight on a long-term basis. When you diet it interferes with your body’s system. As you lose fat, leptin decreases, and your appetite increases. Your body also tries to conserve energy due to the loss of muscle mass. (1)
Research shows that following a quick diet to lose weight results in most people regaining 30% – 65% of the lost weight within one year. Furthermore, 30% of dieters will be heavier than they were before they dieted. (2)
When people regain weight after a diet, they normally regain fat and not muscle. So, after multiple attempts at weight loss, a person can change their body composition to be higher in fat, but also greater in belly fat. This can eventually lead to a fatty liver which changes the way in which the liver metabolizes fats and sugars. Belly fat is associated with insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes. (3)
Weight gain after dieting is also associated with increased blood pressure, as well as an increased risk of heart disease. All of this can lead to frustration as the cycle repeats itself over and over with poor health outcomes.
It’s better to adopt some healthy lifestyle behaviors:
Increasing physical activity on a daily basis with something you enjoy.
Eating a healthy diet that includes at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, heart-healthy fats, and adequate proteins.
Getting at least 7 hours of restful sleep to renew your cells.
Finding ways to manage stress like meditation, yoga and deep breathing practices.
Cessation of smoking
Losing weight is not a behavior, it’s an outcome. Making SMART goals for yourself that address the aforementioned healthy lifestyle behaviors can help you in your journey. If you lose weight as a result of these changes then that’s fine. Weight loss that’s achieved in ways through methods that stress your body are not helpful. It’s important to keep your eye on the prize, which is good health. This may or may not include weight loss. Adopting healthy habits can be measured in a few ways besides the number on the scale. We like to call those non-scale victories (NSV).
Number of steps or minutes of aerobic activity
Number of fruits and vegetables eaten on a daily basis
So next time you see an ad to lose weight with another quick fix, press pause. And remember the takeaway message is to make changes that support a healthy lifestyle. The choice is yours!