The lethal truth about yo-yo diets

A lot of people refer to me as a “diet” doctor. Which is true to a certain extent — I do write books that help people lose weight. But the reason I write these books is to teach people how to eat in order to be truly healthy. And ultimately, losing weight, and keeping it off, is just a by-product of this bigger goal.

Unfortunately, that’s not how most Americans see it. And this has led to some very dangerous dieting habits… with some very deadly consequences.

A see-sawing scale could cost you your life

Call it weight cycling. Or yo-yo dieting. But a lot of American dieters — as many as 80 percent of them, in fact — drop pounds only to watch them creep back on again. (Often plus a few extra.)

And yet another recent study shows that this roller coaster ride takes its toll — not just emotionally, but physically, too.

To come to this conclusion, researchers followed more than 3,500 subjects for 16 years. They calculated “average successive weight variability,” or ASV, as a measure of weight fluctuation. (In other words, the higher a subject’s ASV, the wilder their weight swings in the past.)

Get this: Results showed that a fluctuation of just a few pounds can increase overall mortality risk shot up by 46 percent. And if that doesn’t scare you into keeping the weight off, well… it should.

Even healthy yo-yo dieters are at risk

A few more important points: While previous research suggests that weight fluctuations are only deadly in the presence of other factors — like smoking or preclinical disease — this one didn’t.

In fact, the highest association between weight cycling and death risk was among healthy adults who never smoked. (This group saw mortality increases as high as 66 percent.) Among people with diabetes, meanwhile, fluctuating weight led to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, and death.

Not to put too fine a point to it, but this study’s takeaway is crystal clear: Weight cycling heightens your risk of death — period. That’s a pretty powerful message. And it’s one that I hope patients and their doctors are paying attention to.

If nothing else, these findings give physicians a new risk factor to consider when predicting potential diabetes and mortality outcomes.

Not that your average doc has much to offer in the way of solutions. But that’s a whole different subject entirely. One that I happened to cover in-depth back in the November 2017 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“The deadly consequences of yo-yo dieting”). (Not a subscriber? Sign up today.)

The bottom line? Anything worth doing is worth doing right — and losing weight is no exception. So if you’re going to put the work into shedding those excess pounds, you have to put the work into keeping them off, too — or risk dying a lot sooner than you should.

P.S. If you’d like to get on track with a healthy weight-loss journey, but you don’t know where to start, I suggest supplementing with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These important nutrients can help you lose weight like you’ve never done before. They boost metabolism, build lean muscle, and trim away excess fat — all with less effort.

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