Friday, 6 May 2016

Yo-Yo Dieting – The Real Reason It Happens And How to Stop it (For Good!)

Dieting. If we’re not currently doing it, we’re sure to know someone who is. Even those seemingly blessed with perfect genes are undoubtedly watching what they eat, choosing  ‘good’ food over ‘bad’, clean eating if you like.

Trying to shift a few pounds can be stressful at the best of times, but a constant cycle of yo-yo dieting can be hellish – stressful, upsetting, and totally demoralising. 

Why does yo-yo dieting happen? What can we do to stop it?

The answers may surprise you.

A few weeks ago I attended a bloggers boot camp at the David Lloyd Centre in Cheam, hosted by The Training Room. TTR specialise in courses for those who want to become personal trainers. Nutrition is a big part of what they teach.

The bloggers event comprised a one-hour talk on nutrition, following by a ‘metabolic’ training session, a programme of exercises designed to help keep up the fat-loss, calorie burn post-workout, technically known as raising our EPOC – Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption.

TTR trainer Nick Hewett blamed the yo-yo dieting phenomenon on diet plans that put people into a big calorie deficit. Yes they deliver weight loss, he said, but it won’t just be fat you’re losing – it’ll be lean muscle too.
Nick explaining the truth behind yo-yo dieting
Lean muscle is a big part of our ‘engine’ and something we need to hold on to, not only to stop the yo-yo dieting but also to give us a healthy lean physique.  If we lose it our engine ‘shrinks’, so our body no longer needs as much food to maintain it as it did before.

When we come off the diet and start eating normally again, it’s easier to pile the weight back on. So we’re back to square one, or perhaps worse, as now we have less lean muscle. What do we do? We put ourselves back on a diet… and the cycle continues.

Stopping the Yo-Yo Cycle

How do we stop it? The answer boils down to diet and exercise, of course. But it’s the type of diet and exercise that’s key:


Rule number one: forget what the scales say (muscle weighs more than fat) - best throw them out!

Basically, get to know your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. This is the amount of energy used at rest. Staying above this on a diet will allow you to hold on to your engine - so if you haven't been, you may need to eat more!

Here’s how to calculate your BMR:

Next you need to work out Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This varies according to activity level.

Here’s how to calculate that:

Multiply BMR X TDEE. This will give total daily calorie needs. To lose a steady 1lb-2lb week, reduce the figure by between 250-500 calories/day.  Split your macros thus: Carbs 20%, Fat 40% and Protein 40% by calories, not by weight.  NB: stick to this macro split for just 4-6 weeks, then follow a diet of carbs 50-60%, fat 30-35% and protein 10-15%.


Rule number one: train with weights

Incorporating weight-bearing exercises into your fitness regime will help build muscle mass. There’s a multitude of such exercises to choose from. Pictured below are just two of the ones that we did during our boot camp session: barbell squat (right), and clean and press.

If you want to see videos and more exercises from my day’s training, please check out my Face Up Fitness Instagram page, where I’ve posted a selection.

You can find out more on The Training Room here.

Yo-Yo picture credit: Enrique Calabuig


  1. This is such a helpful post. I know that it will really help so many people. I think people focus too much on losing weight rather than adopting a healthier lifestyle.

    1. Thank you Jemma. Yes, I agree, the focus should be on the long-term, a total lifestyle choice. Tx

  2. This is a very informative post. Going to bookmark this.

  3. Now that comes at a perfect time! I just gained 4 pounds I really need to get rid off again. Now that was very interesting. I don´t step often on the scale- but sometimes I need some reassurance if I am on the right track. I was doing so good for over a year with my low carb diet but had been cheating these last weeks and it is showing lmao. Now you are such a strong power women and I admire your biceps. Hell, my arms need some workout- they are starting to really be soft and saggy - even my son makes jokes out of it. Turning 40 soon and I need some push to get those flabby arms back in shape lol. Kisses my dear! xoxo Sissi

    1. Aha, your comments always make me smile Sissi. I know you train too, and you look fab. We are our own worst enemy sometimes (substitute that with 'often'), right? Big hugs darling. Tx

  4. I am forever yo-yo dieting and I need to break the cycle, this post came at the right time! xx

  5. I've never heard of BMR before so this is super interesting!! I'm currently trying to tone up rather than lose weight but I have been keeping an eye on the scales and saw that despite all my exercising, I'd put on weight. However, I eventually worked out that it's probably just weight from muscle gain so something in my exercise regime must be working!! Fab post. Xx

    1. Thank you Emma and you are right, the scale tip is down to increased muscle mass which is a good thing :). Tx


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