Ditch the Dieting: Weight Cycling Health Risks

Uncategorized Jan 21, 2022

What is weight cycling? Also called “yo-yo dieting”, weight cycling is a pattern of weight loss and regain. This is a paradox because people who experience weight cycling are typically dieters in pursuit of weight loss, but they often end up regaining it, plus more.

What are the risks of weight cycling? Research suggests that weight cycling may increase someone’s risk of developing chronic diseases including diabetes and heart disease more than if someone remained in a larger body. Furthermore, there is increased risk of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction.

Why does the weight come back? Because dieting doesn’t work. Dieting may initially cause weight loss in the first couple weeks or months, but over the years, an estimated 80% of dieters regain the weight. 

What happens when you diet? When you restrict calories, your metabolism slows, and requires less calories than someone of a similar size who is not calorie-deprived. You would theoretically have to eat less and less to maintain your weight or continue to lose weight. The amount of calories you ate at the beginning of the diet that allowed you to lose weight would not continue that weight loss over time. Aside from metabolic damage, dieting causes intense cravings, unhealthy obsessions with food, binge-eating, emotional distress, and hormonal changes that increase appetite.

So, what should you do? Focus on healthy habits instead of the number on the scale. Allow yourself to eat when you’re hungry, and rely on your body to tell you when you’re full.Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well” -Evelyn Tribole, Intuitive Eating.

The stress, the missed experiences, the increased health risks from weight fluctuation is not worth it. Ditch the dieting!

XO, Team Temecula Dietitians



Camps, S. G., Verhoef, S. P., & Westerterp, K. R. (2013). Weight loss, weight maintenance, and adaptive thermogenesis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(5), 990–994. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.050310

Hill A. J. (2004). Does dieting make you fat?. The British journal of nutrition92 Suppl 1, S15–S18. https://doi.org/10.1079/bjn20041135

Kraschnewski JL, Boan J, Esposito J, et al. Long-term weight loss maintenance in the United States. Int J Obes (Lond). 2010;34(11):1644-1654.


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