More research is coming out to show that dieting in general is harmful to your body (and your mind), and it most likely isn’t making you healthier in most situations. However, yo-yo dieting, where you’re constantly back and forth between being on and off a diet, can be even worse for you.
This is when you either bounce to different types of diets constantly, or you’re on a perpetual restrict and binge cycle. Your body is going through a lot of changes at a rapid pace, which can be far unhealthier than if you had stayed overweight. Here’s why . . .
Your Hormones Fluctuate Like Crazy
To start with, when you diet, especially back and forth between eating and restricting, your hormones are completely out of control. Severe calorie restriction and yo-yo dieting where you have a lot of changes in what you eat over a long period of time can cause your cortisol levels to increase. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and can actually increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes!
You Might Have a Bigger Appetite and More Cravings
Yo-Yo dieting also changes your appetite and what you crave. It may seem like you’re out of control, but this is not a matter of willpower. It’s actually from dieting itself. In your body, you have two different hunger hormones – leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that increases your appetite, while leptin decreases your appetite, and can help you feel full. If you’re dieting, the hormone leptin often decreases, while ghrelin increases, creating an imbalance. Feel like you’re constantly starving? Your diet might be why, and not just because you aren’t eating enough.
Your Metabolism Slows Down
Wonder why when you start a diet, you seem to hit a plateau quickly? This is probably the result of your metabolism slowing down because of all the feast and famine periods your body has gone through. Your body is very smart and knows what it’s doing. But when you put it through the ringer with yo-yo diets, you’re actually making it harder to lose weight thanks to your metabolism slowing down.
You Lose All Sense of Hunger and Fullness Cues
When you have pre-determined portions, types of food, and meal eating windows, you lose all sense of when you are actually hungry or full. When you’re on a diet, you don’t rely on your internal cues, like hunger, but instead on numbers and external cues. How many calories you can have, how many carbs, making sure your sugar is low and protein is high, watching your fiber. You might also get into timed meals, eating every 2-3 hours, or intermittent fasting. All of this damages your ability to know when you’re hungry or full.
My conclusion . . . stop undereating, give up the diets, trust your body, and start to eat intuitively.