4 Big Reasons to Avoid Yo-Yo Dieting Over the Holidays

Are you the type of person who throws all their healthy habits out the window when faced with tempting†foods and alcoholic beverages during†holidays before vowing†to lose the extra weight come January?

If there’s any time of year that yo-yo dieting becomes popular, it’s got to be the holidays. Weight loss or maintenance†in the fall, followed by gaining weight†in December, followed by trying to lose it all again in January may be something many people have accepted as the only way to get through the holidays without†totally depriving themselves ó but it certainly isn’t healthy.

Yo-yo dieting during the holidays or any time of year for that matter does more damage to your body than you†might think. Here’s why you’ll want to put in the extra effort to†find more of a middle ground between eating†healthy and allowing yourself to indulge.

1. Low-calorie diets signal the†brain that food is scarce, triggering fat storage.

In a recent study,†researchers created a conceptual model of feeding habits from†different animals that instinctively cycle through periods of food abundance and food scarcity. These animals, such as birds, know that food abundance and scarcity fluctuates, but can’t know when it will occur. When food does become scarce, these animals respond by storing energy and increasing their weight similar to how humans tend to gain weight after a period of calorie-restricted dieting.

2. Hunger and cravings don’t subside after a period of dieting even†once weight is gained back.

The researchers in the study mentioned above pointed out that because humans evolved in environments where food was abundant sometimes and scarce at other times,†the body’s response†to store more fat after a phase of dieting is a normal survival mechanism. And even when weight is gained back by increasing calories shortly after dieting, hunger and cravings often persist, because the brain still expects future food scarcity.

3. Yo-yo dieting may increase risk of death from heart disease in older women of normal weight.

A†recent study presented by the American Heart Association classified self-reported weight history data from over 158,000 post menopausal women as either steadily gaining, stable, maintaining or weight cycling. When researchers followed up with the women more than a decade later, they found that those who were of normal weight but were classified as weight cyclers†were three and a half times more likely to suffer cardiac death compared to women with stable weights. Women who gained weight but did not lose it and women who lost weight but did not gain it back showed no increase in risk of death.

4. Yo-yo dieting keeps your gut bacteria unbalanced.

Researchers recently discovered that the microbiome†plays a very important role in the occurrence of weight again after†a period of dieting. They found that when mice†underwent a†cycle of gaining and losing weight, all of their biological functions went back to normal ó except their microbiomes. Despite losing weight, the mice retained an “obese” microbiome for about six months after losing, suggesting that the microbiome†has a “memory” of previous obesity.

While a few†pounds of water weight very quickly gained and then very quickly lost after the holidays is nothing significant to worry much about, †you’ll want to pay attention to the quality of your diet and level of physical activity to avoid exasperating the effect. Previous research has shown that holiday weight gain is actually a global struggle.

Here are some tips on how you can avoid holiday weight gain†so that you can minimize your†chances of needing to lose it all again in the New Year.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock


W. C
W. C6 months ago


William C
William C6 months ago

Thank you.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Jennifer F
Jennifer F1 years ago

Yo-yo dieting should be avoided at all times, not just holiday time.

Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Dennis Hall
Dennis Hall1 years ago

Thank you.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran1 years ago


Carol S
Carol S1 years ago

Eat a healthy diet year round :). I allow very small indulgences 3 days a year; Thanksgiving, Christmas and my birthday.

Danuta W
Danuta W1 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Margie FOURIE1 years ago

Yo yo dieting is always bad.