Yo-Yo syndrome

Description, Causes, and Risk Factors

A person who loses body weight, gains, loses and gains all over again is known to be suffering from the “Yo-Yo Syndrome.” Experts are of the opinion that repeated means to burn fat during this phase can reverse the metabolism rates in such a way that you will be gaining weight abnormally and losing inches will become near to impossible. Approximately 95% of people who lose 20 pounds or more regain that weight within 12 months. Most obese individuals go on and off very low-calorie diets. Quick weight loss features, loss of water and some muscle, not fat.

Depression, low self-esteem or a history of sexual abuse are frequent causes of unresolved emotions causing one to overeat. The underlying factor is using food as a coping mechanism for stress, loneliness or fear.

Some evidence indicates that this yo-yo effect may cause the body's metabolism and cell function to adjust to low-calorie diets causing a decrease in the rate of metabolism. The body will conserve the energy in the form of fat for future use. The low energy intake will make the individual more tired than usual, which further reduces activity. This may explain why it is difficult for many obese persons to lose weight even when they are dieting.

Yo-yo dieting can cause food addiction behavior. According to research featured in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," rats deprived of palatable food or better-tasting food flavored with more fat or sugar binge-ate when exposed to these foods. The bland diet fed to the rats created self-deprivation due to lack of interest in the food. Foods with higher fat and sugar content caused the rats to binge eat. The binge eating behavior was related to decreased corticotropin-releasing factor, which is a hormone that increases when bland or unpalatable food is present. The hormone diminished when pleasant food was presented to the rats, causing them to overeat. Drug addicts display this same type of behavior seen in the rats; when drugs are made available, binging occurs. This type of behavior can be seen with chronic dieters when following severely restricted dieting programs.


If you are suffering from yo-yo diet syndrome, you may display several typical behaviors, such as a preoccupation with food and body weight, feeling fat, constantly following a new diet program and feeling like a failure when you gain back lost weight. You might also feel a heightened sense of well-being when dieting and, if you are close to your goal body weight, you may relax your eating habits and then start dieting again


There is no known diagnosis options for yo-yo syndrome.


Many people feel that they have to give up all the things that they “think” are bad for them in order to be successful with fitness and weight loss. The key is, if you are going to be successful in keeping the weight off, you do not allow deprivation in your eating regimen. In addition, you do not take on an exercise program that is difficult to stay on. I've said it before and I will say it again, “human beings are pleasure seekers and pain and deprivation are not pleasurable”!

So, get off the “diet” mentality. You should NOT be on a diet. The exercise program you choose should be something that you can fit into your schedule and continue to do it as part of your lifestyle. You should enjoy it and it should make you feel good, not bad. So, whatever it is, do it. The food you eat should be food that is good for you that you like to eat.

Listed below are few tips from experts to get rid of the “Yo-Yo”:

  • Plan portion control of your meals - small meals and increase the frequency of the small meals.
  • Exercise to keep your body moving.
  • Include variety in your diet - proteins, carbohydrates, fat, grains, fruits and vegetables for minerals and vitamins etc.
  • Consult a professional, doctor or dietitian to solve your weight problems.
  • Focus on slow and steady weight loss.
  • Allow healthy snacks in between your meals.
  • Do not rely too much on supplements.
  • Drink plenty of water, fruit, and/or vegetable juice.

NOTE: The above information has an educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.

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