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We’ve all been there. We vow to start our diet on Monday, and by Wednesday, we’ve already cheated. And okay, maybe next Monday we hop back on it, and through some months of torture, we finally achieve our desired weight… Only to regain 110% of it back in twice as little time as it took us to lose it in the first place.
The secret is in the details…Keep reading for tips on how to overcome the yo-yo effect of dieting!
What Is The Yo-Yo Effect?
This is referred to as the “Yo-Yo effect” because, well, it’s like a Yo-Yo – You go down by a lot, suddenly, and then you come back up! Why does this happen? Let’s find out by reverse-engineering the process of fat loss.
Why Do We Gain Fat?
Before you go on to hop on a weight loss diet, it is a good idea to understand why you gained fat in the first place.
Contrary to popular belief, the reasons why people gain fat ARE NOT that:
- Too many carbs
- Too many sweets
- Because of hormones
Instead, the most common reason for fat gain is the same – People consume way more calories from food than their bodies need to maintain their weight and healthy functioning!
Because the body is a smart mechanism, it won’t allow any unused energy to be wasted – It will just be stored for later.
And that “storage for later” is… Drum rolls, ka-ching, ka-chang… FAT! That’s right – The MAIN function of fat is to serve as an alternative energy source.
The Body Hates Drastic Changes
Alright, if fat is just an energy source, does that mean that simply using it will allow us to ‘burn’ it off? That is absolutely right. The only way to lose fat is to use it!
The body hates drastic changes, especially when it comes to nutrition! Any drastic change impacts the body negatively because it requires too sudden adaptation.
This includes, but is not limited to changes like:
- Suddenly reducing food to lose fat
- Suddenly stopping alcohol
- Suddenly stopping cigarettes
Think of any new habits, diets, and training regimens as the creation of a new environment for your body to thrive in. The introduction to the new environment must be gradual so that the body can get familiar with it and transition smoothly.
How To Lose Fat & Keep It Off
The Most Important Things For Sustained Weight Loss
#1 A Moderate Caloric Deficit
A caloric deficit is a first and most important requirement for any fat loss diet to work – It implies consuming fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its body weight. (Find that number by clicking HERE.)
And though a caloric deficit means looking and feeling better in your own skin, for the body it means ‘controlled starvation.’
Through this starvation, the body tries to adapt by lowering our energy output as a response to the deficit of energy.
This is why a caloric deficit must be moderate. This will allow you to have still energy for any daily mental and physical activities and the healthy functioning of all internal systems.
Furthermore, a moderate caloric deficit will allow you to retain your lean body mass (all tissues in the body except fat), which you inevitably lose during a period of time eating in a caloric deficit.
Set your daily caloric deficit at around 400-500 calories lower than your maintenance needs, or aim to lose about 1-2 lbs per week.
#2 Eat Plenty Of Protein & Fats!
Alright, a few paragraphs ago, we said that carb consumption isn’t the primary cause for weight loss. Now you may be thinking, “Does that mean I can eat cakes and still lose fat?”.
And the answer is – Yes, absolutely! As long as you’re in a deficit, you will lose weight, regardless of the content of food.HOWEVER, the content of your foods will determine how your body composition changes, which is why most of your calories should come from quality food sources.
As we mentioned above, you will inevitably lose lean body mass during the process of weight loss. But that can be minimized with the help of protein & fats (and weight training, which we’ll talk about in a bit).
As you may or may not know, dietary protein & fats are the two essential nutrients that our bodies need but can’t produce on their own. This is why deriving them from quality food sources during a period of fat loss is essential for you to feel, look and perform better!
Set your daily protein at 0.8-1g per lb of body weight and your fats at 0.35-0.45g per lb of bodyweight!
#3 Don’t Forget Carbs!
Yes, carbs aren’t really your worst enemy on a weight loss diet plan! Even more so, they can actually BENEFIT your weight loss and lean body mass retention.
How and why? Well, it’s quite simple – Carbohydrates are the BEST energy source for high-intensity training! Better performance means a greater energy output and better stimulus for the muscles.
This makes it far easier for you to get in a deficit and, furthermore, gives a reason for your body to retain the muscle mass. After calculating your proteins and fats, give the rest of the calories to carbohydrates from quality sources, such as sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, starchy veggies, fruits, and honey!
#4 Train, Train Hard!
If you want to sculpt your body like a Greek sculpture during a period of fat loss, there is nothing better than combining the things mentioned above with some hard-ass weight training.
Not only will intense training give your body a reason to retain the muscle mass, but it will also produce a myriad of benefits for your health and enhance your appearance.
Even more so, if you are a beginner or someone who has a lot of weight to lose, you might even gain some muscle WHILE losing fat.
Gaining muscle while losing fat is called body re-compositioning and is generally impossible for people with long training experience.
However, it can be done because re-compositioning is something reserved for beginners, people getting back to training after a lay-off or individuals who are obese/overweight.
After The Diet Ends…
Alright, it’s been five months of vigorous dieting and training – You’re finally at your desired weight. What now? Can you ditch it all and go back to your old habits?
Well… It’s not recommended, really! That’s how the yo-yo effect kicks in. You must realize that weight loss results from new, properly established habits.
The best you can do to keep the fat off afterward is maintain those habits. Here are five must-dos after a successful weight loss phase:
- Gradually increase food
- Gradually increase training
- Keep making good nutritional choices
- Stay active
- Accept your new look & life!
The yo-yo effect of dieting is a common problem that people face. There are many ways to avoid this, but it’s important not to go on an extreme diet and starve your body of the nutrients it needs.
Instead, try eating healthy foods in a caloric deficit and include plenty of training! You can also look into how you live day to day – do you have time for yourself? Do you work too much or sleep enough?
These things all contribute towards weight loss and how you feel, so be sure to think about them before going on a restrictive diet plan again! Stay active and eat well without starving yourself! Find what’s sustainable.