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Yo-Yo Weight Warnings

amandaeveamandaeve Posts: 578Member Member Posts: 578Member Member
Back in the day I remember seeing a lot of warnings in magazine articles and whatnot warning us of the dangers of yo-yo dieting. They argued things like…fat cells never go away, so all those extra fat cells you had when you were fat stay in your body forever, trying to fill themselves up with fat again. And every time you gain weight you get more fat cells. This always caught my eye because so many people gain and lose. Pretty much everyone trying to lose weight isn’t doing it for the first time. Plus there’s bodybuilders, wrestlers, pregnant moms, etc. who gain/lose as a matter of course. I don’t see these warnings anymore and wonder why. Are they still around and I’m just missing them? Has the science been debunked? Is there some reason this isn't a focus anymore? Are fad diet scams winning?

Replies

  • Millicent3015Millicent3015 Posts: 372Member, Premium Member Posts: 372Member, Premium Member
    This kind of mostly pseudo scientific information comes and goes. There were probably one or two studies on fat cells in rats or something and the results got overblown in the media. Just wait ten minutes, there'll be something else along soon.
  • vanityy99vanityy99 Posts: 535Member Member Posts: 535Member Member
    I’ve been thinking about this lately wondering if it’s actually true or not.

  • Carry_That_WeightCarry_That_Weight Posts: 27Member Member Posts: 27Member Member
    AFAIK it was accepted until recently that you can’t get rid of fat cells, just shrink them. There’s newer work now that shows that the number of fat cells you have can shrink, but it generally requires at least a few years of maintaining your weight loss. Can’t remember the specifics of the study right now though and I’m feeling too lazy to google it.
  • jessicajo1983jessicajo1983 Posts: 1Member Member Posts: 1Member Member
    I remember being in physiology class, and the professor talking about fat cells, how you create them and expand them, but you never lose them. It frightened me when she said once you've expanded the cells, you can lose weight, but you will always be fighting your biology to fill the cells back up, and the only way to rid yourself of that issue is surgical removal.
    Wasn't very motivating, I know.
  • Katelin7141Katelin7141 Posts: 15Member, Premium Member Posts: 15Member, Premium Member
    As a nurse and personal trainer, I've been curious about Yo-Yo dieting and the effects on the body as well. I wrote a blog post about it in October. I learned that we can't get rid of fat cells once we gain them. They only change in size as we gain and lose weight. What I found interesting is the effect of Yo-Yo dieting on our gut bacteria.
    :smile:

    (edited by MFP Staff)
    edited December 2018
  • urloved33urloved33 Posts: 3,361Member Member Posts: 3,361Member Member
    yo yo dieting can lead to a fatal heart attack.
  • jesspen91jesspen91 Posts: 1,383Member Member Posts: 1,383Member Member
    I would say that yo-yo dieting is also psychological damaging because the more times it fails the more likely you are to throw it all in when you stall because you feel that weight gain is inevitable.
  • LivingtheLeanDreamLivingtheLeanDream Posts: 11,567Member Member Posts: 11,567Member Member
    I did a thread on this topic a while ago after seeing this link from WebMD >>

    https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-diet-yo-yo-diet-effect?ecd=wnl_spr_032818&ctr=wnl-spr-032818_nsl-ld-stry_1&mb=aB7YNUX7TcTSH6I2GWN8sOHnVev1imbCjEezIWElcyU=

    The jury might be out but its still interesting to read ^
  • OrphiaOrphia Posts: 6,808Member Member Posts: 6,808Member Member
    "One amazing fact is that fat cells generally do not generate after puberty -- as your body stores more fat, the number of fat cells remains the same. Each fat cell simply gets bigger! (There are two exceptions: the body might produce more fat cells if an adult gains a significant amount of weight or has liposuction performed.)"

    https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/cellular-microscopic/fat-cell.htm

    So for many people, it's not that big a worry. They don't grow more fat cells when they gain more fat.
  • OrphiaOrphia Posts: 6,808Member Member Posts: 6,808Member Member
    I'll add that yo-yo dieting is a problem not because of the number of fat cells.

    It's most often because of crash dieting and deprivation while losing weight rather than sustainably eating a wide variety of food that includes treats in moderation and learning habits that last a lifetime of maintaining a goal weight range.

    edited December 2018
  • CSARdiverCSARdiver Posts: 5,701Member Member Posts: 5,701Member Member
    Orphia wrote: »
    I'll add that yo-yo dieting is a problem not because of the number of fat cells.

    It's most often because of crash dieting and deprivation while losing weight rather than sustainably eating a wide variety of food that includes treats in moderation and learning habits that last a lifetime of maintaining a goal weight range.

    Correct.

    Biological systems react well to change, but need time to adapt. Why measured, moderate changes to diet and behavior work better in the long term. Drastic changes are unsustainable over time. The more drastic the change the greater the risk of failure.
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 14,657Member Member Posts: 14,657Member Member
    AFAIK it was accepted until recently that you can’t get rid of fat cells, just shrink them. There’s newer work now that shows that the number of fat cells you have can shrink, but it generally requires at least a few years of maintaining your weight loss. Can’t remember the specifics of the study right now though and I’m feeling too lazy to google it.

    I vaguely remember a post from the very wise @EvgeniZyntx describing the conditions where the numbers of fat cells do actually reduce but can't recall the details.

    OP - any evidence people routinely add more cells every time they gain and why do you think those cells "are trying to fill themselves up again"? Seems a bit of a contradiction that those cells are waiting to store fat but you instead add more fat cells rather than refill the existing ones.
  • amandaeveamandaeve Posts: 578Member Member Posts: 578Member Member
    @sijomial that's why I am asking of the mfp community. I haven't seen any articles in years. I don't think I've ever seen research. Why was that said then? Are "they" still saying that now? I see several opinions that's it's unhealthy, but I don't see any research. @Orphia 's article describes what a fat cell is and does, but doesn't say anything about long-term impacts to losing and gaining weight.

    @LivingtheLeanDream I tried to find your thread on the WebMD article. I couldn't. WebMD seems like a less and less credible source the more I look at it. It lost me at this sentence: "Your fat cells make a hormone called leptin. It tells your brain when you have enough fat stored up." If it was that simple, then we would be saying people are overweight due to a hormone imbalance, right? And do they really have data that shows people who have yo-yo'd are more likely to have heart problems than people who are overweight without yo-yoing? I'd like to see it. How much more likely?
  • MadisonMolly2017MadisonMolly2017 Posts: 3,262Member Member Posts: 3,262Member Member
    @amandaeve
    See this from Wikipedia

    Because of the concerns I also read & heard a long time ago about yo-yo-dieting, I did not try to lose weight for a long, long time. They said that yo-yo dieting would effect my heart health.

    According to the article below, this was debunked in 1994.

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/380893


    Effects on health Edit

    This kind of diet is associated with extreme food deprivation as a substitute for good diet[when defined as?] and exercise techniques. As a result, the dieter may experience loss of both muscle and body fat during the initial weight-loss phase (weight-bearing exercise is required to maintain muscle). After completing the diet, the dieter is likely to experience the body's starvation response, leading to rapid weight gain of only fat. This is a cycle that changes the body's fat-to-muscle ratio, one of the more important factors in health. A report by the American Psychological Association reviewed thirty-one diet studies and found that after two years of dieting up to a third of dieters weighed more than they did before they began the diet.[3] One study in rats showed those made to yo-yo diet were more efficient at gaining weight.[4] However the research compiled by Atkinson et al. (1994)[5] showed that there are “no adverse effects of weight cycling on body composition, resting metabolic rate, body fat distribution, or future successful weight loss”, and that there is not enough evidence to show risk factors for cardiovascular disease being directly dependent on cyclical dieting patterns. A more recent review concluded "...evidence for an adverse effect of weight cycling appears sparse, if it exists at all".[6]

    Since there is "no single definition of weight cycling [that] can be endorsed", it is almost impossible for research to draw specific conclusions about the actual effects of cyclical dieting, until it becomes more definitely defined.[5]
    edited December 2018
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