Give up the YO-YO

Give up the YO-YO

Hi all.

Been a while since I did a post. Been really busy at work. So I thought I would talk about the type of diet it sounds like a lot of people here have been on. Namely the Yo-yo diet. I would be interested to know how many people on this forum have lost a ton of weight and then put it all back on again?

But why is this. You have lost a load of weight why would I put it back on? So what is the main cause of this? The answer is I am afraid really simple and might get a few people hot under the collar but here it is. It is because you go on a Diet!!

What, what is he talking about on a diet site, quick hide him and pretend this never happened. Okay let me explain.

Lets start with the word Diet, The word “diet” comes from the Greek root word “diaita”, which means “to live one's life,” Which is a shame because that is exactly what you should be doing. But the word has somehow become linked with losing weight by eating less. The cambridge diet, the 5-2 diet, the Palio diet the juice diet and of course worst of all the slim fast diet. Then we have weight watchers diet and slimming world diets. But what's wrong? lots of people lose weight with these systems. Correct but has anyone done any research to find out how many of these people put all the weight straight back on?

So what the hell is wrong? So lets take a step back. "To Live one's life" Why are you overweight? in simple terms its because the calories you consume in a week are more than the calories you burn. This is a calorie Surplus. There are a few other factors like Macro nutrient breakdown and level of exertion but for the moment lets stick with this. Over a period of time this calorie surplus means your body cannot break down this excess food and it will retain it as Fat (I know this is simplified, but again stick with it). You end up getting bigger. So to lose weight you decide to go on a diet, you work out you BMR add an activity amount, then take off 500 calories and lose a pound of fat a week! Yippee. So what goes wrong. Well simply you do not plan for what you do when you succeed. The problem is as we have already discussed you were eating too many calories and most people think right I have lost that weight and go right back into eating the way they used to eat. So doing the things that made them overweight in the first place. Most diets firms make the calories very small so you have a lot of success, this is not sustainable and (especially with things like the 5-2) when you go back to eating normally, boom it all comes back on with a little extra as the body now reacts by speeding up. So back you go to Weight watchers and they say thanks very much and keep pocketing your money.

So how do we stop the bloody yo-yo. You have to modify your lifestyle. "To Live one's life" The foods you eat in a calorie deficit should be foods you are happy to eat after you finish. Your BMR total plus activity level should mean when you reach your goal eating that calorie amount should keep you at the same weight forever. Don't think fast weight loss, If you have five stone to lose (or 70 lbs) think about food modification for a sustainable healthy lifestyle that will over the course of 75 weeks mean in a year and a half you will get to your goal being healthy. Then when you finish this journey you just carry on eating the same food but just add the 500 calories back. Also remember we are trying to lost Fat, not just weight. Don't just look at the scales or as we call it the "Step of shame", get a good tape measure and measure your waist and your hips this is where we store most our fat so some weeks the scale might not move but the tape will. This is a much better indicator of how you are doing. So lets get on the journey, Remember those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

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11 Replies

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  • I have to say I agree with you slow but sure did it for me last time and this is my aim this time giving myself 1 year to lose 2 st which should work out at 1/2 lb a week. I think just by swapping for healthier options rather than cutting things out works better. It also helped me maintain for 4/5 years, and would have continued but for a broken arm, not able to cook and ready meals and on went the weight.. at least I don't have to worry about the odd big family meal or party because, you can just go right back to the eating plan ..Good luck to every one:-)

  • While I wholeheartedly agree with much of what you’ve explained, PTKeith, I must add that as weight reduces, so too must calorie intake.

    As the body begins to weigh less, upon the assumption that activity level remains the same, fewer calories will be required to satisfy BMR. For example, the BMR of an individual who may weigh 20st at the outset and 15st a few months later will be wholly different.

    Moreover, even by maintaining a daily deficit of 500Kcal from TDEE, if overall calorie intake doesn’t reduce accordingly as weight is lost, a point will be reached where plateau and weight gain re-occur.

    With each 7-10b reduction in weight, BMR and TDEE ought to be re-calculated, to ensure that the body isn’t receiving more energy than it requires. If you don’t believe me, calculate your BMR at current weight and then calculate it at a stone less. In doing so, you’ll no doubt find that there’s a significant difference between the two figures. For example, my BMR at current weight (16st) and at 15st is 1876Kcal and 1748Kcal respectively (a difference of 128Kcal).

    By multiplying the daily difference by 7, my body would require 900 fewer calories each week to satisfy its BMR at 15st than it would at 16st. Additionally, on the assumption that my level of activity remained the same, I’d require 200Kcal less each day to purely maintain weight.

    If weight loss was indeed my goal, continuing to consume 1876Kcal (as a minimum) at a weight of 15st would result in a smaller overall calorie deficit for the week, even if HIIT was included. As such, the amount of weight lost each week would continually slow, eventually reaching a point of plateau; having reached plateau, by continuing to eat more than was required, weight would slowly start to be gained.

    Equally, those who may have lost a lot of weight and are close to reaching their goal, or those whose measurements are petite in stature, despite level of activity, invariably cannot maintain a daily deficit of 500Kcal.

    As such, a smaller deficit needs to be maintained, thus, providing the body with sufficient energy while still creating a deficit that allows weight to be lost.

    Furthermore, for those close to achieving goal weight, intake needs to closely mirror that of TDEE, since the body no longer possesses the level of fat (excess calories) it once did. To support daily endeavour, energy must come from food. Granted, the quality of food consumed also contributes.

    However, a small daily deficit of 100-150Kcal should ensure weight that weight continues to be lost, albeit at a slower rate than at the outset, since the body remains in deficit.

    A calorie deficit that exceeds the difference between BMR and TDEE isn’t helpful to either weight loss or maintenance thereafter, particularly if the body continues to receive less energy than is required to satisfy its BMR, since it’ll for ever remain in fat storage mode, as it seeks to maintain its existence (let me know if you’d like an example).

    Ultimately, the body is simply an organism, caring little for its owner’s desire to lose weight, largely due to its deep-rooted evolution. If the energy balance isn’t sufficiently satisfied, metabolism will reduce considerably, as will energy levels, leaving one less inclined to exercise, thus, making it increasingly more difficult to continually cheat evolution.

    As I said at the outset, I don’t disagree with what you’ve attempted to explain. However, successful weight loss and maintenance thereafter is very much a numbers game, relying upon regular re-assessment of those numbers as weight reduces, so that the correct deficit can be maintained, depending upon one’s measurements, stage in their journey and level of activity.

  • Great, some really good points here. However the reason for my post was I find I have to explain to members of our gym every day why they are not losing weight and the frustration that comes with that and the reason why so many people give up. I see hundreds of gym Members who join a gym, look up on the internet for how to train at a gym then come on down and misuse the equipment. I spend all day walking round having to correct people using the kit incorrectly and just jumping from on bit of equipment to another without any plan. They then start to try and eat healthily and then within a month give up because they have not lost a stone in weight. People think everything can be done quickly. Hence the success of rubbish systems like slimfast. One of my clients has a friend who she worked with who instead of doing Slimfast for a couple of months did it for eight months and in now nice and slim but also permanently ill. She has all sort of problems happening with her stomach, and liver. She has just lost her job because she was having to take so much time off work ill. Feel really sorry for her!

    Thanks for the offer of info on calorie defects and weight loss. I don't really need examples because I deal with peoples food diaries every day, I find my clients are losing weight because they follow the diets I give them and the exercise regime I give them. Yes I know that you had to adjust the calorie amount as you lose weight, thanks for the great info on that, I did this in a bit of a rush before I went out to work today so well done backing up that point for me.

    IMHO The best way to get people to engage about the subject of changing lifestyle is to break down the process into simple manageable steps that they can understand. using SMART goals and KISS. I find talking about TDEE to most people makes their eyes glaze over (lol!) as for most of them this number is really hard to understand. For the majority of my clients so far this year all they really need to know is how many calories do I eat, how many of those calories come from Protein, how much from Carbs and how much from fat. I would go further and say for the majority of my clients and most of the other Qualified Personal trainers clients at our gym they only want to know what to eat for Breakfast, dinner and lunch and what snacks am I allowed. If after all this I am losing fat then Happy days. If not then we tweak this so that next week you do lose weight. I am also training a lady who is entering her first body building competition this year. This a whole new can of worms trying to get someone into what doctors would call underweight! Right now she is at 16% body fat and she looks wonderful but to compete (she is doing fitness not body-building which is even lower) we will probably have to go about 10%, I think the body-builder girls go as low 8% yikes!! and of course we have to do all this while maintaining her hard earned muscle. We soon have to endure the pleasures of Carb loading!!

    I understand that you are a fan of the science of weight loss and so am I. I give lots of talks to members in my gym trying to explain how to lose weight. My latest talk is called "Diet, am I doing it right, so why am I not losing weight! I also did a thing on Netmums talking about obesity in our kids. How we attune our kids to thinking of McDonald's and Pizza hut as a treat!!

    I will try and post a couple of things every month to try and help and motivate people to reach their goals. Please feel free to chip in with the science stuff and any things I forget.

  • Although you’d prefer not to discuss TDEE with clients, regardless of respective goals, it’s something that remains important in ensuring that aims are achieved.

    By educating people upon the importance of BMR/TDEE, based upon their individual measurements (age/weight/height) and level of activity, it allows them to gain far greater appreciation of how many calories are required to increase, maintain or reduce current weight.

    After all, I consider that greater education of BMR and TDEE would go a long way towards reducing the ever increasing epidemic that seeks to bankrupt our NHS, rather than using the antiquated method of BMI. The scale is simply used by medical professionals as a point of reference to begin a discussion surrounding obesity (and a need to change existing behaviour), rather than educating individuals as to what they ought to do in order to lose weight.

    Hence, I wholly accept your point that the vast majority of new entrants to the gym simply expect someone else to do it for them, largely due to poor education.

    While direction can be provided towards dietary intake and the type of exercise that ought to be undertaken, the individual must also take personal responsibility in employing the advice provided.

    Again, I also agree with your point that a lot of people think that weight loss can be achieved in short space of time. Granted, through severely reducing calorie intake for a period of time, it can, as America’s Biggest Loser has proved. However, in the longer term, such huge calorie deficits are neither sustainable nor healthy, due to the effect upon the body’s metabolism.

    Such extreme methods don’t allow for the natural and gradual re-adjustment of ghrelin and leptin, hormones that govern hunger and satiety, as opposed to lifestyles that advocate a modest reduction in calorific intake and gradual reduction in refined sugar (the greatest key to successful weight loss), while encouraging and increase in fibrous carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats, such as nuts, fish and avocado, for example.

    To hear that a friend of your client fell ill from persevering with the SlimFast diet for eight months, really isn’t a surprise; your colleague cannot be held accountable for her misfortune, but some individuals have themselves to blame, by refusing to listen to contrary advice.

    As for your client aiming to compete in body building, given that she’s attempting to drop to around 8-10% body fat, when you talk of carb loading, I assume that you’re referring to the days that precede the event, since it makes little sense to carb load when attempting to drop to body fat to such a low amount.

    Again, due to a reduction in calorific intake during cutting, for example (knowledge of BMR/TDEE is cruicial), it makes little sense for carbohydrate intake to reduce on rest days, since it’ll be required to replenish depleted reserves, allowing existing strength and muscle mass to be maintained.

    Equally, despite the reduction in calories, the weight lifted/pressed should remain largely the same as that executed during maintenance, only reducing for exercises that are performed in isolation after compound movements have been undertaken.

    Even with isolation exercises, importance should be still placed upon time spent under load; the reduction in body fat will reveal the prominence and shape of the muscles (no high reps with light weights).

    Two weekly HIIT sessions when in deficit (lasting no longer than 25 mins) should assist in reducing overall BPF. Have her climb the StairMaster as quickly as she’s able for 30-60s, before recovering on L1 for the same period, repeating the process for up to 25 mins.

  • Oh great. Doing HIIT while in a calorific deficit how well did that work for you or your client?

    Maintaining your weights while in a calorific deficit again how did that work for you or your clients?

  • Yes, Keith. Even when maintaining a daily calorie deficit from TDEE, the regular inclusion of HIIT is hugely beneficial in helping to reduce overall body fat, regardless of whether one happens to be training for a body-building competition or simply attempting to lose weight, in order to improve body composition.

    Although I largely maintain throughout the year (since my days of bulking and cutting are firmly behind me), in the run up to a holiday, for example, for 4-6 weeks, I’ll reduce intake by 500Kcal and increase HIIT sessions to 3-4 occasions a week.

    Since I’m doubling weekly HIIT sessions, my calorie intake increases from around 2600Kcal to 2900Kcal, before deducting 500Kcal, to account for the additional calorie expenditure both during and after the activity.

    By keeping intake at 2600Kcal, a daily deficit would reduce my intake to 2100Kcal (before exercise), meaning that the calories expended through HIIT and daily activity would increase the risk of overall intake falling below that of BMR.

    The result of eating fewer calories, than is required to satisfy BMR, would quickly lead to plateau and reluctance of my body to burn fat as energy. Moreover, I’d also be at an increased risk of accumulating fat, since the body would quickly grow wise to the fact it wasn’t receiving sufficient nourishment.

    However, by increasing intake, so that sufficient energy continues to be provided, my risk of plateau is significantly reduced, allowing my body fat to drop from 15% to 10% in a relatively short space of time, resulting in a more shredded composition.

    Additionally, the ability to lift and press what I’m usually able to isn’t compromised.

    Although I no longer instruct/coach to the extent that I used to, it’s a philosophy that worked when it was a full-time profession and continues to do so for those whom rely upon my direction in the current day, regardless of their goal.

    Due to the physiological changes that HIIT encourages, chiefly the oxidisation of fat and severe depletion of glycogen from the muscles during the activity, insulin sensitivity greatly improves, remaining raised for up to 72 hours.

    The resulting increase means that the carbohydrate eaten during that period is much more likely to be used by the body to replenish depleted glycogen, as opposed to being stored as fat.

    Taking into consideration that your client is lifting weights (which in itself is a form of HIIT), her insulin sensitivity will already be fairly high; the inclusion of HIIT cardio will simply assist in raising it further.

    Additionally, depending upon your client’s level of commitment to training, there’s a fair chance she’ll soon be embarking upon double-sessions each day, resulting in a greater calorie requirement, to ensure that existing muscle mass isn’t excessively broken down.

    Deficit or no deficit, the greater one’s level of endeavour, the greater their intake needs to be, to ensure that it can be sustained.

    Again, my suggestion of attempting to keep weight largely the same contradicts mainstream cutting advice, so I understand why you’ve questioned it. However, when considering the science behind muscle growth (progressive overload), having gained shape, size and mass, it makes little sense to undo that work by focusing upon a cutting routine that’s lighter on weight and higher in reps.

    During cutting, the focus should be geared towards the maintenance of what has been accumulated, rather than attempting to lose it; the reduction of body fat over the weeks (through a daily calorie deficit & exercise) will create the shredded appearance that your client is striving to achieve going into competition.

    As such, by keeping the weight as close as possible to 80% of 1 rep max (even when deficit), most of the muscle she’s accumulated should be maintained. After all, she’s worked hard to develop it.

    By reducing frequency of repetitions, from 8-6 for compound movements and from 12-9 for isolation exercises, for example, while making use of rest pauses every fortnight, or increasing the amount of rest taken between sets, the risk of fatigue/over-training should be greatly reduced.

    Since your client’s safety remains paramount, if she feels as though 80% of her max is too much, reduce it 75% and see how she feels. However, by reducing reps and increasing rest time in between, she may find that 80% remains manageable.

    Depending upon how far away your client may be from her first competition, you may not wish to depart too greatly from how you aim to get her there. However, the inclusion of HIIT (after resistance training), will help to decrease her overall body fat in the weeks that remain, provided her energy balance is correct.

  • Some really interesting and detailed replies here thank you both 😊

  • And there was me thinking I just had to eat less and exercise more...

  • This is a really interesting and educational thread. Thank you. Some of you may already know that I lost a lot of weight a few years ago and allowed it to all go back on again. I dropped from 18 stone to 12 stone 10 in six months. I was the classic yo yoer.

    Second time around, I have gone from 17 stone 10 pounds to 14 stone. I have plateaued at 14 stone but I am able to maintain it through exercise and a good diet.

    I have had to ask myself where I want to go next? I have managed to reverse a prediabetes diagnosis, I feel good and am a size 14 to 16. Is it wrong to accept that I am still obese for my height but have reached a sustainable weight that I can maintain? I don't want to seem defeatest but I am determined that I am not returning to my heavier self. One answer is to maintain for a little longer and then lose another stone slowly. This will make me overweight rather than obese.

  • The inclusion of regular exercise should ensure that your achievement in reversing a pre-diabetes diagnosis continues, Slimpickings, since it increases the uptake of both glucose and fat.

    As such, you ought to be incredibly proud of what you’ve so far achieved second time around.

    By repeatedly and regularly depleting glycogen (glucose stored in the muscles) through exercise, the body’s sensitivity to insulin will continue to improve, since the carbohydrate eaten afterwards will be used to replenish (as opposed to being stored as fat).

    In addition to improving fitness, if you wondered why Type II diabetics are encouraged to exercise regularly, now you know why.

    Although you may have reached plateau, having lost nearly 3 stone, allow a small break from calorie reduction since it’ll present the body with the opportunity to re-accustom itself to receiving fewer calories on daily basis. Doing so will benefit the regulation of ghrelin and leptin (the hormones that govern hunger and satiety).

    After a few weeks of maintenance, re-assess your figures, either through the NHS BMI calculator or alternate means, since the body will require fewer calories at 14st than it did at the outset.

    If you’d calculated calorie intake on sedentary activity at the start of your journey, for example, you’ll need to re-assess it, particularly if daily endeavour has increased to light activity (exercising 1-3 times per week).

    Regardless of the figures presented, aim to maintain a daily calorie deficit from the higher of the two, ensuring that the deficit re-introduced doesn’t exceed the difference between the figures.

    If the BMI calculator presents a range of 1400-1800Kcal, for example, maintain a deficit of 200Kcal from the higher figure (aiming to consume 1600Kcal), while allowing calories expended through exercise/activity to create an overall daily deficit of 400-500Kcal.

    With each 7-10lb reduction in weight, figures ought to be re-assessed, to ensure that the body isn’t receiving more energy than it requires.

    As I stated in my first reply, calculate calorie requirements at current weight and at a stone less, comparing the difference between the two. Even if there’s only a difference of 70Kcal, by multiplying that figure by 7 or 31, it’ll allow you to appreciate how over-eating by 2170Kcal (70 Kcalx31 days) can impede upon the deficit you seek to create.

    However, if you’ve plateaued/maintained for a few weeks, re-assessing your numbers now may present the opportunity to overcome a hurdle and kick-start weight loss once again.

  • This is such a brilliant post. Thank you. This has happened to me so many times. You have explained this so brilliant.

    If I keep up what I'm doing but just add 500 cals a day this will maintain weight

    when I've lost the weight. I have more than 2 stone to go. This time I really want to achieve and maintain for life my goal of 8 stone. I am currently 10stone 5 pounds.

    I'm treating my weight loss as a long journey rather than a quick fix.

    I'm eating around 1000 cals per day but I've been advised to up it a little which I've done.

    I must admit it will be nice to see a finish line when I say that I mean to see how I look feel... I realise the finish continues with a little more food now to maintain eg around 1700 cals per day in my case. I can be happy with that amount of calories for life and stay at my goal.

    It's never really been explained as clear re maintaining. I've looked at maintaining now and I think it's motivating for everyone to see the goal and reach it but to stay there by maintaining. Thank you .

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