We’ve all heard about the pitfalls of yo-yo dieting, but here’s another reason to avoid this: The pounds that women regain after a diet tend to return as fat rather than muscle, according to a new study. Yikes.
Published in this month’s Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers studied 78 middle-aged women whose average age was 58 and who had lost about 25 pounds during a previous diet study. When they looked at the data on those who had regained weight, the researchers found a negative change in their body composition.
Apparently, one-third of the weight lost was muscle, but only 20% of the weight regained was muscle. This means that the women were left with more fat and less muscle after losing and regaining weight.
It’s a concerning problem, for sure. Especially for those whose weight tends to fluctuate through extreme dieting tactics. And considering that 98% of all diets fail, according to the National Institutes for Health, it’s a lose-lose situation–just not in the weight department. Instead, women lose the weight through unhealthy dieting, then regain it with more fat on their bodies than they had before they lost the weight.
Not only that, but hormone levels and metabolism can be affected by quick weight loss. According to another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month, leptin, the main hormone for energy balance, fell by two-thirds as a result of weight loss. As a result, participants experienced increased hunger, yet a slower metabolism because their bodies were put into starvation mode. It’s no wonder that the majority of diets fail. People end up hungrier and with bodies that don’t metabolize the food as quickly as before.
So does all of this mean losing weight is a losing proposition? Of course not. It’s just more evidence that yo-yo dieting and extreme weight-loss methods don’t work. If we stick to a healthy lifestyle filled with proper eating and exercise, yes, the weight may take longer to come off, but it will be more likely to stay off–without the negative side effects.