It is impossible to completely avoid the yo-yo effect. The trick is to keep it as limited as possible. We give tips and background information on how you can (almost) prevent the yo-yo effect and what you should pay attention to during your diet.
What is the yo-yo effect anyway?
If your weight has returned to the original weight or even increased after a diet, you speak of the yo-yo effect.
A strong yo-yo effect usually occurs after a crash diet, because you have not received enough calories for a certain period of time. Those who reduce their daily calorie intake too much cannot prevent the yo-yo effect and often gain weight very quickly once the diet is over.
Too few calories means that your daily calorie intake was below your calorie requirement for a longer period of time and therefore also below the essential basic consumption.
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How does the yo-yo effect arise?
Due to a calorie-restricted diet, your body goes into a state of emergency. In this state, your body reverts to its energy reserves. That means that it will not only make use of the carbohydrates, but also the protein stores. This way you run the risk of your muscle proteins being broken down. Less muscle also means that your body needs fewer calories. In this way, your basic consumption decreases. To maintain weight or to lose weight further, you need fewer and fewer calories compared to your diet. Going back to your original diet after your diet is not that easy. As soon as you eat ‘normally’ again, your body receives the signal to store the energy taken in as fat. The excess calories serve as reserves for your body.
The mechanism behind the yo-yo effect is actually an important protective function of our body to protect yourself during times of hunger. It adapts to the external environment, the metabolism slows down and you use less energy.
To avoid the yo-yo effect after a diet, you need to watch your diet, exercise, stress and the recovery process.
Preventing yo-yo effect: basic rules
1. Watch your calorie requirement
Watch your calorie intake. Never eat less than your basic consumption. If you are not sure how many calories you are consuming, calculate your basal metabolic rate and your daily calorie requirement to reach your goal.
Keep it dynamic. A food diary helps you to gain insight into your eating habits. This is important because you should be able to adjust your diet and calorie needs regularly.
Preventing the yo-yo effect: 3 basics
To lose weight and avoid the yo-yo effect at the same time, we recommend that you do not exceed a daily calorie deficit of 300-500 kcal.
Although you get results faster if you consume far fewer calories, this is not the best and healthiest way in the long term. The yo-yo effect ensures that your happiness decreases from your quick results in no time.
Movement & sports
If you exercise several times a week and suddenly stop, you run the risk of causing a yo-yo effect due to the lower calorie consumption. Even if you don’t eat more than before, a yo-yo effect can come from less exercise alone.
To avoid the yo-yo effect, don’t stop exercising abruptly. It’s best to just continue your activity or at least taper it off slowly and adjust to your new calorie burn.
Stress & recovery
The influence of stress during a diet should not be underestimated. When stressed, the body produces cortisol, which means that more energy is extracted from the fat cells.
This fat storage must be replenished. And the fastest way is: sugar. In stressful situations you therefore also feel more like sweets.
Too little recovery time is caused, for example, by a lack of sleep or training breaks that are too short, as a result of which the hormone balance becomes unbalanced and your cortisol level rises.
3 tips to avoid the yo-yo effect
1. Avoid empty calories & increase your protein consumption
To avoid the yo-yo effect, ensure a balanced and healthy diet. You really shouldn’t eat empty calories, such as white bread, lemonades or ready-to-eat products.
Make sure you have enough protein in your diet . Proteins prevent your muscles from breaking down and make you feel full longer than carbohydrates or fats. This also makes losing weight easier.
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2. Plenty of exercise
If you exercise regularly and get enough rest, you can counteract the yo-yo effect. Regular exercise and exercise make it easier to burn more calories, lose extra weight and boost metabolism.
We recommend 3 to 4 exercise sessions per week to burn extra calories. Adjust the duration and intensity of your training to your results.
Even with small tricks you can move more in everyday life. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator. You can also get off one stop earlier and walk the last bit. Or take the bike to work instead of the train or car.
3. Limit stress & schedule a moment of rest
Limiting stress is not always easy, but it is a must to stay healthy and fit. Sport can be a start, because it ensures balance. And make sure you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day!
Take a break now and then and get some fresh air. Take whatever rest you need. Even small breaks, when you are alone or doing something you enjoy, lower your stress level significantly.
Tips for losing weight without the yo-yo effect
Long-term change your diet. Your calorie deficit should be moderate and between 300 and 500 calories. At the same time, you need to increase your body’s calorie expenditure by exercising more and being more active in your daily life.
Even if the daily calorie intake gradually decreases over a longer period, the metabolism adjusts and the body eventually needs fewer calories each day.
The key to keeping the yo-yo effect as low as possible is finding a balance between nutrition, exercise and recovery.