No, it’s not a new dance craze or fitness move !
The yo-yo effect is a negative side effect of losing too much weight too quickly. It is often caused by following strict crash diets, which involve a drastic reduction in calorie intake . It doesn’t look at the individual nutrients or energy that the body needs. By drastically reducing the calorie intake, not only do you lose water and fat mass, but muscle mass is also broken down. And that’s the problem !
Muscle is dynamic; it uses energy even when resting. So the less muscle mass you have, the lower your resting energy consumption is. If muscle mass has been broken down during a crash diet, you will burn even fewer calories after the diet than before . This means that you have to eat even less to maintain your weight. So you start dieting again, losing more muscle mass which leads to less energy requirement and so you remain in a vicious circle.
Perhaps you have experienced it yourself or seen it happen to people around you. After losing weight, you quickly gain weight again and end up at (or even above) your original weight !
So how do I prevent the yo-yo effect?
Here are my top tips :
Exercise is always healthy. Not only is it incredibly important for your physical health, but it’s also great for your mental health too. With exercise you burn calories, you become stronger and your basal metabolism is stimulated. (The basal metabolic rate is the energy expenditure of people at rest.)
The recommendation is 30-60 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise , at least 5 days a week, at least 10 minutes in a row.
Focus on strength training
When you do strength training, small tears appear in your muscle tissue. Your body repairs these small cracks by filling them with new proteins, which increases muscle mass. This muscle recovery costs energy, so you burn calories and fat during strength training as well as during your recovery process.
In other words, the more strength training you do, the more muscle mass you build and the more calories you burn throughout the day .
Eat enough protein
It is important to eat enough protein per day.
Proteins provide satiety so that you will experience less hunger. The less hungry you feel, the less chance of overeating.
Protein is also the building block of your muscles. Therefore, eating adequate amounts of protein helps you maintain your muscle mass and promotes muscle growth when you do strength training.
Eating can boost your metabolism for a short while. Protein has a much higher thermic effect than fat or carbs. That’s because your body uses calories to digest and make use of the nutrients in foods. (Known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). High protein intake has been shown to significantly boost your metabolism and increase the number of calories you burn.
Proteins are mainly found in meat, fish, nuts and legumes.
Eat plenty of vegetables
Eat at least 250 g of vegetables per day, preferably more. Vegetables contain few calories, but many vitamins, minerals and also fibre. Fibre ensures that you stay full for longer and this reduces the chance of overeating.
Find it difficult to get to 250 g daily ? Why not add some extra vegetables to lunch in the form of a bowl of raw vegetables, opt for a salad or serve up an extra serving spoon of vegetables with your evening meal.
A simple but really important tip: drink plenty of water every day. The recommendation is about 1.5-2 litres of water per day. Water contains no calories and is important for several processes in the body. Drinking enough water ensures that nutrients can be properly dissolved and absorbed, it regulates body temperature and removes waste.
In addition, always drink a glass of water before your meal, so that your stomach is already filled and you eat less without noticing.
More and more studies show that too little sleep and sleeping problems can contribute to being overweight. The less you sleep, the less of the hormone leptin you produce. Leptin makes you feel full after eating. On the other hand, there is an increase in the hormone ghrelin and this hormone actually promotes appetite. With too little sleep, these hormones get out of balance . The optimal amount of sleep required is different for everyone but, on average, an adult should try for 7 to 8 hours each night .
Maintain a Positive Mindset
The weight loss process starts in your mind.
Changing your thoughts is vital. Dieting without replacing irrational or negative belief systems only temporary results and eventually the weight will return. Developing the right mind-set for long term weight loss is the most important step for permanent change.
When we talk about being in a ‘calorie deficit’, the words ‘less’, ‘restrict’, ‘can’t have’ or ‘only salad’ spring into our thoughts. Instinctively we think that less is better and the only way to lose weight. This has a very negative impact on how you view changing your eating habits and almost sets up failure from the start.
When we talk about ‘calorie deficit’ the object is to reduce your overall intake of calories modestly then to eat as much as you can within that modest reduction. Think abundance and not restriction.
Overly reducing your calorie intake is unsustainable in the long term and lack of consistency is where the problem starts.
People often say ‘I was naughty’ or ‘I was bad’ because they bought themselves a coffee and then also had a piece of cake. They then feel that their entire day has been messed up and are more likely to compound this with comfort eating because they feel ‘bad’.
Instead of using the words ‘naughty’ or ‘bad’, acknowledge you enjoyed the cake, accept the situation, understand that one piece of cake isn’t going to automatically make you put on weight, move on and pick up where you left off with your healthier eating habits.
Choose a lifestyle that suits you
Last but not least, choose a diet that suits you! If a friend is really happy eating three meals a day, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. Perhaps intermittent fasting works much better for you or a diet with six eating moments.
Do your research and see which diet pattern makes you feel good. The better it suits you, the greater the chance that you will keep it up and really keep the weight off.
And I’m always here with a helping hand if you need me.