How to Avoid the Yo-Yo Effect

The yo-yo effect is the consequence of excessively low-calorie diets that stray from “healthy eating”. How to avoid it? In this article, we share a few strategies.
How to Avoid the Yo-Yo Effect

Last update: 26 September, 2021

The yo-yo effect consists of the cyclical loss and gain of weight in a short period of time. It’s very characteristic of miracle diets, which are usually hypocaloric and not very sustainable over time.

In other words, the energy balance is tipped in favor of expenditure, which makes it possible for the person to lose weight. Then, the person abandons the plan and starts following their previous eating pattern. Thus, they gain weight once again.

To be able to change your body composition without suffering this yo-yo effect, you need to take some key points into account. In this article, we’ll explain the most important ones for those who want to maintain a healthy weight.

A diet based on fresh products

Although counting calories can be effective, it’s much more practical to pay attention to where the calories come from. Thus, eating more fresh foods and less processed food is key when it comes to losing weight.

In addition, this is a sustainable eating pattern, which means that you can follow it throughout your life. But you can indulge from time to time!

As an article published in the journal BMC Public Health states, this eating pattern not only prevents excess weight and obesity, but it also reduces the risk of various chronic diseases.

A woman eating a salad.
Eating fresh foods over processed ones is one of the first keys to avoiding the yo-yo effect.

Increase your fiber intake

Another thing that makes miracle diets unsustainable is that they don’t take satiety into account. For this reason, people quickly quit them, and the ones who stick with them often suffer from food cravings.

As a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates, a regular intake of fiber triggers the mechanisms that reduce appetite.

This is why it’s essential to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables, which are also low in calories. When it comes to choosing your carbohydrates, you should go for grains and whole grains. These recommendations not only boost the feeling of fullness, but also reduce intestinal transit problems, such as constipation.

Indulge from time to time to avoid the yo-yo effect

A balanced and varied diet leaves some room for foods that are considered “whims”. However, it’s important to remember to consume them moderately.

Completely depriving yourself of organoleptically delicious foods can affect the sustainability of your diet. In addition, eating them occasionally reduces cravings and makes the eating pattern more bearable.

Intermittent fasting

Some strategies such as intermittent fasting can help you lose weight progressively, thus avoiding the yo-yo effect. Many people who cut out breakfast don’t have an increased appetite, thanks to the laws of chronobiology that regulate hormonal cycles.

In addition, it allows you to reduce the calories you eat each week. You can start intermittent fasting by cutting out breakfast or dinner three days a week, and gradually increase.

Some people even follow 24-hour fasts. However, they must do so with professional supervision.

A representation of intermittent fasting.
Although intermittent fasting as a weight-loss strategy is backed by evidence, it does require professional supervision.

Avoid the yo-yo effect by eating healthy

To avoid rebounds and weight gains and losses, you need to plan a balanced, varied, and sustainable diet. Therefore, it’s best to eat more fresh foods and cut out processed products.

In addition, you need to pay attention to the sources of the calories you’re consuming. Also, you need to make sure to get the carbohydrates you need through whole grains, as their fiber content boosts the feeling of fullness and improves intestinal transit.

On the other hand, experts recommend regular exercise to support weight loss and muscle gains. This also helps reduce the risk of many complex diseases.

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  • Zhao Y., Wang L., Xue H., Wang H., Wang Y., Fast food consumption and its associations with obesity and hypertension among children: results from the baseline data of the childhood obesity study in China mega cities. BMC Public Health, 2017. 17 (1): 933.
  • Warrilow A., Mellor D., McKune A., Pumpa K., Dietary fat, fibre, satiation, and satiety – a systematic review of acute studies. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2019. 73 (3): 333-344.