Consistently high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels have long been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, but when these biomarkers fluctuate over time, as can happen with yoyo dieting, the negatives escalate.
A huge study of 6.7 million people in the US, as reported in the journal Circulation, discovered that subjects with the most fluctuations in bodyweight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels over five and a half years were 2.3 times more likely to die during the study period and more than 40% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than subjects with little variation in those measures. Wow, that’s a big effect in a big study.
This study suggests that it’s prudent to avoid the frequent cycles of weight loss and weight regain that are associated with repeated bouts of dieting. I guess that restrictions in food supply stress the body physically (as well as mentally), weight regain stresses the heart and big changes in homeostasis leave the body in a state of confusion, leading to negative adaptations.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this study is that whatever changes you make to your food habits and exercise regime it is best to make them gradual, small, acceptable, and therefore sustainable. Aim for slow, steady and lasting reductions in body fat. Take little steps to achieve your long term goal and avoid ‘being on a diet’ with its temporary connotations.