6 Signs You're A Yo-Yo Dieter And How To Finally Fix It

I know how hard dieting can be: I gained so much weight when I was sick with a hormonal disease called PCOS a few years ago, and losing it was TORTURE.

The meal plans and workouts, as well as avoiding dessert, made me wonder when the cycle would ever end... and I pretty much always wanted to binge on dessert and fries.

Finally, when the weight actually DID come off, I developed a new lifestyle: one that involved both the foods that were good for me AND the ones that weren't so great.

I'm happy to say I've reached a happy medium where I can have those glasses of wine AND the kale salads, and not feel guilty about any of it.

But of course, that's easier said than done. When you're inundated every day by size 2 bodies and pretty much every weight loss trend imaginable, it's hard to not get sucked in. And when big occasions come along, you want to lose weight fast so you look your best for them.

If it seems like you're constantly on a diet (until you're off it again), you might have a more serious issue: You may be a yo-yo dieter.

Lauren Slayton, author of "The Little Book of Thin" and NYC-based nutritionist, says,

I think of yo-yo dieting as the tendency to be either 'all in' or all out when it comes to weight loss. And of course, as your attention to nutrition goes up and down, so does your weight.

Studies have shown excessive yo-yo dieting can permanently alter your metabolism, slowing it down rapidly. In addition, constantly gaining and losing weight can have other unhealthy side effects, such as coronary heart disease, excess stress in the body and inflammation.

The question is, are you at risk?

These are the signs you could be a yo-yo dieter, along with some tips to help you finally break free of the cycle for GOOD:

1. You've lost and regained the same amount of weight in the past five years.

Yo-yo dieters are constantly either on a diet or off it. The diets they put themselves on are often very extreme, and so, they lose a lot of weight.

The thing is, once they've hit their goal weight, they binge. Their diets are so restrictive, they feel a sense of "freedom" when they go off them. This excessive caloric intake, along with the damage the dieting inflicts on their metabolism, causes them to gain weight.

Then, the cycle continues again, with the dieter losing the weight again by more restrictive means.

2. You keep wanting to try the latest weight loss trends.

Paleo diet, gluten-free diet, vegan diet, spin class, Crossfit: You've tried them ALL.

While there's nothing wrong with being on-trend and knowing what Hollywood's up to in efforts to lose weight, yo-yo dieters often find themselves running from trend to trend, looking for that quick fix.


While all these trends are definitely effective when applied consistently on a daily basis, there isn't one that'll magically give you results overnight.

Be careful you're not getting sucked into the hype.

3. You always put certain foods off-limits.

Your restrictive diets may cause you to give up sugar one day, or all carbs the next.

This is NOT sustainable.

First of all, all food groups contain critical nutrients that are necessary for your health and well-being. Secondly, giving up something always makes you want it more.


When you restrict yourself, you're way more likely to crave the thing you gave up. This causes you to give up, binge and then start the cycle all over again.

4. When you fail your diets, you always get demotivated instead of getting right back onto them.

Yo-yo dieters tend to have an "all or nothing" mindset. If they don't stick to their diet perfectly, they get frustrated and start feeling like failures.

And of course, because their diets are so restrictive, they inevitably fall off the wagon.

This leads to anxiety, and the yo-yo dieter takes this as an opportunity to give up.


That is, until the next diet comes along.

5. You care more about fast results than slow, lasting ones.

Yo-yo dieters get addicted to the thrill of quick weight loss through their restrictive diets... no matter how short-lived these results may be.

While a balanced lifestyle change is obviously the best way to approach weight loss in a sustainable way, yo-yo dieters are more concerned with the here and now.

They would rather get the rush quick weight loss provides... even if they have to go through hell to achieve it.

6. You're more concerned with losing fat than building muscle.

Studies show people who used to be overweight earlier on in life tend to be yo-yo dieters because they find it difficult to maintain the weight they currently have, even if it's not that low.

Yo-yo dieters usually look at weight loss as a numbers game on the scale as opposed to a lifestyle they can sustain their entire lives.

As a result, they focus on cardio and the numbers dropped on the scale, as opposed to transforming the body through weights (which might make the number on the scale go UP) and nutrition.

But losing that much weight really fast means you have to lower your caloric intake to maintain that weight, and you can only rev it back up through strength training.

Nutritionist Khushboo Thadani says,

After you complete a strength training workout, for the next 24 to 48 hours, your body will have to work harder than normal in order to repair the muscle tissues that have had stress imposed on them. As a result, your body burns more calories.  Muscle is also highly metabolically active and requires more calories than fat to be maintained.
Your eating plan should be more like a marriage than a one-night stand.

The thing is, if you're used to this pattern, it can be super hard to throw caution to the wind. It might feel so weird to start eating gluten again, or maybe you'll hate weights with a vengeance.

But all hope isn't lost: Thadani has some tips to make sure you rev up your metabolism and get off the yo-yo dieting track for good.

She says,

Direct your energy towards making small changes. Choose two or three areas that are important to you and really focus on them. As you start to notice improvements in your well-being, these changes transition into habits that can last a lifetime. Build on them. In addition, allow yourself some flexibility and recognize not every day is going to be perfect. Just because you miss a workout or eat more cake than you intended, it's not the end of your healthy living journey. Instead, treat the next meal as a fresh opportunity to nourish your body to the highest standards and get back on track to success.

What does this mean? ALLOW YOURSELF SOME CAKE SOMETIMES. It'll keep you on track, and you'll feel so much better if you don't restrict yourself.

As Slayton says,

Your eating plan should be more like a marriage than a one-night stand.

Sounds like a successful long-term relationship to me.