The Yo-Yo effect: the many causes and how to avoid it

One step forward, two steps back - many people know the phenomenon: the crash diet is successfully completed, the personal feel-good weight is finally reached. But shortly after the feeling of success, the yo-yo effect makes itself felt - the body weight and the level of frustration increase, stress arises. Our medical team takes a closer look at the causes of the yo-yo effect and gives tips on how to avoid it in order to lose weight healthily and in the long term.

Jo-Jo-Effekt Quelle: iStock - Copyright, Scientific DX GmbH, 2020

The body's unpleasant game with the kilos

The yo-yo effect and the yo-yo toy, which is popular all over the world, have a name and a principle in common, but only one of them gives pleasure. The former is metaphorically derived from the universally known toy and describes the unwanted rapid weight gain after losing weight. The weight moves up and down like a yo-yo, with the lost kilos often returning in a double pack.

With conventional diets, the body is given less food than it consumes in calories for its daily energy needs. The kilos fall for the time being, as the body gets the energy it needs from its reserves. After a longer period of time, the body gets used to the deficiency. If we now give it the usual food and quantities again, the metabolism perceives this as "too much". As a result, this "too much" is stored in the form of fat for bad times, since the body can now manage with less - the unpleasant yo-yo game starts all over again.

3 tips to avoid the yo-yo effect

You could say that the yo-yo effect is as old as mankind itself. But what ensured the survival of our Stone Age ancestors and was a sensible tactic of the body, we try to prevent as much as possible today in order to lose weight healthily and in the long term.

If you know how the yo-yo effect comes about, you will lose weight healthily in the future. A few tips and tricks help for a successful diet, without stress and frustration.

1. lose weight slowly reduces hunger pangs

The more your body draws on fat cells, the more appetite-inducing signals are sent to the brain. The faster the kilos tumble, the louder the alarm signals from the body, which pulls out all the stops to get the person to find food and survive. So when you lose weight quickly, the yo-yo effect is triggered more strongly.

Scientists recommend healthy eating instead of rapid weight loss. Protein food, e.g. lean meat, fish and low-fat dairy products, as well as good sources of carbohydrates such as wholemeal products, pulses and, of course, vegetables have a positive effect.

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2. long-term success with exercise and sport

If the body lives in deficiency, it curbs energy consumption as a reaction. This means that the metabolism slows down to save energy. But for long-term weight loss, physical activity is crucial right now to keep energy consumption high.

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3. Permanent Change of Diet

Radical diets do not lead to lasting success. In the case of rapid malnutrition, the body mainly loses water and short-term energy from muscle tissue. Only an individually sensible change in diet will lead to a permanent feel-good weight. Old eating habits and little exercise have finally led to the unwanted kilos. Those who return to it after a diet will be confronted with the yo-yo effect - one step forward, two steps back.

Frau und Mann kochen Gemüse

From the low carb diet to the chocolate diet to the cabbage soup diet or Sleeping Beauty diet - countless diet trends promise quick success. However, what really counts when losing weight are new habits, whereby healthy food, regular exercise and training for endurance and muscles are the basic prerequisites.

Are you genetically prone to the yo-yo effect?

The composition of our DNA is not only responsible for the fact that no two people are identical. In addition to our appearance, fingerprint or metabolism, our genes also determine whether we are prone to certain diseases or generally to being overweight, feeling hungry or the yo-yo effect. Among other things, so-called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are responsible for this, i.e. variations in our gene interaction that have an influence on our health. That is why there is no "one" diet that leads to the desired goal for every person in the same way. Losing weight without the yo-yo effect is therefore more likely to work with a metabolism-appropriate diet.

The igevia metabolism test is based precisely on this and analyses 23 SNPs in 19 genes . The genes ACVR1B, ADRB2, ADRB3, FTO, LEPR and MLXIPL can, for example, provide information about whether you have a tendency to the yo-yo effect according to your predisposition. According to the results, you will receive individually tailored diet and exercise recommendations, including food recommendations and a 14-day diet plan with recipes.

Find out if you are genetically prone to the yo-yo effect


This article has been reviewed by unserem Medical-Team for accuracy of content.

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