yo yo dieting

Five Negative Effects of Yo-Yo Dieting

April 28. 2021

Despite their seemingly never-ending popularity, fad diets that lead to Yo-yo dieting do not work and are even harmful to your overall health. Fad diets are often designed to function as a business and prioritize growing their customer base and making money off of people struggling to obtain a healthy weight. Yo-Yo diets, fad diets, and celebrity diets all exploit the average person who is just striving to better themselves. Not only are they incredibly frustrating, but fad diets that lead to yo-yo dieting can also cause numerous adverse effects that can sometimes be serious. Five negative effects of yo-yo dieting have low motivation, struggling with a low self-image, developing unhealthy and harmful habits, and mental health issues.

What is Yo-Yo dieting?

Yo-yo dieting is the term that refers to the pattern of weight loss and then weights gain that is seen with celebrity and fad diets. If you were to plot the weight loss of a person on a fad diet, it would clearly show the person’s weight going up and down in ample curves that mimic the movement of someone playing with a yo-yo. These diets are often not developed by credentialed dietitians, nutritional scientists, or doctors but are based on faulty or biased dietary ideology. Examples of fad diets that tend to cause yo-yo dieting are the ketogenic diet, South Beach Diet, and Paleo. These diets are often designed to perpetuate the distinctive pattern of weight loss and then weight gain of yo-yo dieting. Millions of dieters each year are frustrated and give up on weight loss because of yo-yo dieting.  

Yo-Yo Dieting Causes Motivation to Tank

It’s a fact of introductory psychology that continual failure will lead to the expectation that you will fail. Fad and celebrity diets that cause people to follow the pattern of yo-yo dieting cause a repeated pattern of motivation and failure. Eventually, this leads to people feeling like the inability to lose weight is because of some personal failing and not because of a faulty system. Many people have underlying medical reasons or vitamin and mineral deficiencies that perpetually cause even well-designed diets to fail. Nevertheless, people who habitually lose and regain weight are less likely to make healthy life choices because they believe they are destined to fail. 

It Creates Low Self-Image

Most people who attempt diets that lead to the yo-yo pattern of weight loss develop a very low self-image. It’s not surprising that yo-yo dieters have low self-esteem considering most failed dieters end up heavier than when they started. That fact, coupled with the ever-increasing unattainability of modern beauty standards, has contributed to men and women plagued with physical insecurities. This makes people who are already prone to low motivation feel even more unlikely to reach their weight loss and health goals. 

People Who Are Yo-yo Dieters Develop Unhealthy Habits

Fad and Celebrity diets that perpetuate yo-yo dieting patterns are often designed around unhealthy habits that aren’t sustainable in the long term. For example, most people need a varied diet, rich in vitamins and minerals, to obtain a healthy weight and lifestyle. Restricting food groups, encouraging exclusivity in your diet, outlawing specific preparation methods, and ignoring the importance of moderation all lead to bad eating habits. These bad habits always seem to ignore the cultural and social aspect of how most people experience food. On the other hand, most people already know that they need to limit the amount of sugar and fat they eat to be healthy. Still, the danger of completely prohibiting sugary and fatty food is that it often leads to binge eating and feelings of failure and shame. Neither of these helps someone commit to a healthier mind and body and makes it harder to continue any healthy diet. 

It Can Lead to Mental Health Issues

People don’t need another contributing factor that negatively affects their mental health and wellness. However, studies show that serial yo-yo dieting can lead to the development or worsening of several mental illnesses. Low self-esteem, destroyed motivation, feelings of hopelessness, and bad dietary habits all contribute to people feeling more depressed, anxious, and trapped in their health. In extreme cases, people who exacerbate these issues can develop more severe conditions like eating disorders and body dysmorphia syndrome. Unfortunately, these more serious mental health illnesses can sometimes become lifelong struggles or even life-threatening in their most severe form. 

It Causes a Decrease in Overall Health

While no one wants to commit to a diet, go through the stress and difficulty of adjusting your lifestyle and ultimately failing, to find out that your overall health has been affected by the diet. Yo-yo dieting has been linked to an increased chance of a negatively affected metabolism, loss of muscle mass, increased appetite, and a higher body fat content. More seriously, yo-yo dieting can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and liver disease. While some of these issues are more concerning than others, fad and celebrity diets can ultimately make it more challenging to have a healthier body, much less lose weight. 

Don’t Let Yo-Yo Dieting Get You Down

All these adverse side effects of yo-yo dieting can be overwhelming, but there is good news! We at Weight Loss Clinic Chicago believe that everyone can lose weight with the proper diet, exercise, and medical attention to address underlying issues. Even if you have given in to fad diets and have experienced yo-yo dieting in the past, it is never too late to learn healthy eating, exercising, and wellness habits. You can still devote yourself to a successful weight loss journey and, more importantly, a healthier you. Every person is capable of this. Don’t give up hope!

Nurse Walton


Nurse Walton

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Chanay received her Practical Nurse licensure and went to work in clinical specialties such as Home Health, Assisted Living, Long-Term Care and Dialysis Centers. Through this work, she realized the importance of diet, nutrition and weight loss among her patients. This led her to open A Better Weigh, Inc. Medical Weight Loss Center in 2009.

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