The Yo Yo Effect Explained: Why Is It So Common for People To Regain Their Lost Weight?


When you lose and regain weight over and over again this trend is known as the yo yo effect or in some places the jo jo effect.

You may diet and exercise strenuously and rapidly lose your unwanted weight. Then you stop monitoring what you eat and cut back on the exercise and the weight quickly starts coming back on. In fact, the weight comes back on faster than it went off.

Everyone has a number of fat cells in their body. By the time you reach your teens this number of fat cells have been established. If you allow yourself to eat much more than you should, and allow yourself to gain more and more weight, then your normal fat cells can accommodate, your body will need to manufacture more fat cells to accommodate the excess.

Once you have these fat cells they never go away. When you decrease your eating the fat cells can start to empty out. They will decrease the fat they hold, but they are still in the body just waiting for you to fill them up again.

When you yo yo diet and cut your calories too low you run the risk of heart disease, muscle weakening, increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol, cancer, diabetes and other health problems.


If you want to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and get off the yo yo dieting effect you need to change your lifestyle. You do not want to go on a diet with the intent of losing weight quickly and then ending the diet. It is never safe to severely limit calories or avoid foods and just drink liquids to lose weight. You will lose some weight this way and you will feel lighter, but it will not last and you are putting your health at risk.

Instead of a crash diet you want to develop a weight loss plan that changes your eating habits permanently. Aim for safe weight loss of 1 or 2 pounds per week.   Some people find it is easier to follow a plan where they consume 3 regular meals and 2 snacks each day. Others are more successful if they graze throughout the day eating 6 small meals. As long as you stay within the calorie range that allows you to lose weight the time of day when you eat is up to you.

When you eat you want your menu to consist of low fat dairy, lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, fresh fruits and vegetables. Try eating from a smaller plate so the portions appear larger. Avoid reading or watching TV while you are eating so you are mindful of your food. Take smaller bites of food and chew thoroughly. Eat only when you are hungry.

In addition to eating a healthy diet you need to increase your exercise over what is normal for you. Try adding an additional 30 minutes of activity on most days. The activity can be anything you enjoy. Try walking, jogging, dancing, bowling, playing ball or whatever you want to do. You burn calories when you engage in housecleaning your home, mowing the lawn, raking leaves or any strenuous activity.

It helps to keep you on track if you wear a pedometer to count the steps you walk each day. You should aim for 10,000 to 15,000 steps each day. If you currently walk very little build up your stamina by walking 2,000 steps daily the first week and then build up more steps during the coming weeks.

With some thoughtful planning and with practice you should be able to stop the yo yo dieting and achieve and maintain a more healthy weight and lifestyle.