You eat a balanced diet and exercise, and you lose weight. But once you reach your goal, you exchange trips to the gym for pork lo mein on the couch, and end up gaining all the weight back (and then some). You're not alone. In fact studies show that two-thirds of dieters regain more weight within four or five years than they initially lost. Even celebs aren't immune to the grasps of yo-yo-dieting. Kirstie Alley, Oprah Winfrey, and Janet Jackson have all struggled with keeping the numbers on the scale from going up.
Constant yo-yo dieting makes it harder to keep the weight off because when your body mass decreases by 10 percent or more, it ends up slowing down your metabolism by 11 to 15 percent. Going on and off diets also changes other aspects of your physiology, such as increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin, and decreasing the hormone leptin, which makes you feel satisfied and full. Doctors believe strict diets which are low in calories are the worst. Your body may see restricting your calorie intake as a threat to its survival, and that's why it holds on to the extra pounds on your tush.
I'm sorry to say, but I have more bad news so keep reading.
Not only does flip-flopping between a size 6 and a size 16 make it harder to keep weight off, but research also shows that some people are more hardwired for yo-yo dieting than others. Doctors refer to them as conditioned hypereaters. They have a harder time resisting temptation because reward circuits in their brains stay active until all the food is gone from their plates. Fifty percent of obese people and 30 percent of overweight people are conditioned hypereaters.
Here's some much needed good news. Through conditioning, the brain can be rewired so a person has more control over their reactions to food. If you suffer from weight fluctuations, check out these helpful tips on how to prevent yo-yo dieting.