Forbes | Bruce Y. Lee | Want To Lose Weight? Be Consistent, Don't Yo-Yo, Study Says
Anybody who's been in a yo-yo relationship will tell you that it can be terrible. I'm not talking about a relationship in which you just play with yo-yo's (which would be weird but fascinating) but instead one in which the other person is inconsistent in what he or she says and does. You just don't know what that person really wants and cannot plan for the future in any way.
The same may apply to your relationship with your body when you diet, as a study just published in the journal Obesity suggests. If you go back and forth, back and forth with what you say to your body, you may have a tougher time to shed pounds.
For the study, Emily H. Feig, PhD and Michael R. Lowe, PhD at Drexel University tracked what happened to 183 people who finished a year-long behavioral weight loss program. The majority of the participants were female (81%) and White (69%). Their average age was 51 years old and their starting average body mass index (BMI) was 35 kg/m2. The researchers measured how much the participants' weight fluctuated over time and how this correlated with overall weight loss. They found that those who had greater weight variability over the first 6 and 12 weeks of the program tended to lose less weight after a year.
All of this further confirms that your body just wants consistency from you. Think of your body as a partner complaining, "what do you want from me? You say you are ready to lose weight, but where's the commitment? One day you are running ten miles, then the next seven days you are hardly moving. You go five days just eating nothing but some powder and then you cheat with that sheet cake. Lots of sheet cakes. You join a gym, but drive a car everywhere else... Until you decide what you really want to do and be consistent. I'm going to stay this weight."
The key word here is homeostasis.
Your body has many mechanisms to try to stay at its current state, which is homeostasis and very important for survival. If you suddenly stop eating or try to lose weight too quickly, your metabolism will actually slow down to burn even fewer calories in an attempt to maintain your current weight. Think about what would happen if your body freaked out and tried to change with every change around you. "It's raining, we're in the ocean, let's be like a fish. Oh, no weather is getting cold, become a penguin because everyone's going to freeze. What you want to lose weight? Shrink to an ant." You just wouldn't be able to get anything done.
Therefore, undue pressure, crash diets, intense unsustainable work-outs, or wild changes in your behaviors don't help lose weight in the long run. It may help if you are trying to play a character for a film role such as Christian Bale losing over 60 pounds to play a chronic insomniac inThe Machinist and Anne Hathaway losing 25 pounds or so to portray a tuberculosis patient in Les Miserables. But as the Biggest Loser experience has shown, weight lost quickly often eventually comes back.