Does Yo-Yo Dieting Wreck Your Metabolism?

If dieting were easy, we’d all be in perfect shape. Committing to a healthy diet and sticking to it is a really hard thing to do. And, if you do finally get your act together, the next thing you know the latest diet trend says you’re doing it all wrong. What happens when you lose the weight and a few months later you’ve put it all back on? You resolve to start again and then you find yourself back on the weight-loss merry-go-round. Can all of this yo-yo dieting be wrecking your metabolism in the long run?

Make Good Choices
A study published in the journal Metabolism in 2012 found that a history of weight cycling does not hinder future weight loss. Some experts suggest that it’s the lifestyle choices that accompany these diets that end up slowing your metabolism down. “The problem with most diets is that they are impossible to stick to long-term. So, when you fall off the wagon, you indulge in all the foods you were craving—like processed sugar and refined carbohydrates—which completely wrecks your metabolism,” says certified nutrition specialist Josh Axe, DC, CNS. “When you do stick to diets, you might be consuming foods you think are healthy, like artificial sweeteners and granola, but much like sugar and white carbs, they’re also killing your metabolism and making it very difficult for you to drop pounds.”

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Avoid Crash Diets
In order to get off the dieting yo-yo string, the best thing to do is avoid crash diets that are impossible to sustain and focus on weight maintenance. “Keep in mind that if you’ve successfully lost weight in the past, then you have the ability to do it. To help maintain your weight loss over time, you need to take an honest look at where and how you’ve failed before,” advises certified dietitian-nutritionist Jess Cording. “Take stock of the various diets you’ve tried. What elements of each were successful in helping you lose weight? What factors were challenging? This will give you clues as to what may be sustainable for you in the long term.”

Stop Cycling and Start Maintaining
While there isn’t one way to lose weight and keep it off, experts agree that the combination of a healthy diet and exercise has been shown to be the most effective. If you make the right choices, a faster metabolism will follow. “Rev up your metabolism and keep it fueled by eating a diet that’s high in healthy fat (like avocado and coconut oil), protein and fiber, and low in refined carbs and sugar,” says Dr. Axe. The approach you take to successfully lose weight is the same approach you need to maintain your weight loss. “Start with a few small changes. Over time, these small, positive tweaks become the same healthy habits that lead to sustained weight loss,” adds Cording. 


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