As you are starting to learn, it is impossible to fight your physiology in your efforts to lose weight. It’s very important to recognize that yo-yo dieting is caused by changing the quantity of calories you consume, not by changing the quality of your calories (more on this later). If your focus is to decrease your calorie consumption through smaller portion sizes, choosing heavily processed low calorie or low fat foods, or by replacing meals with low calorie shakes or frozen foods, you are setting yourself up for an unwinnable war against your physiology. Your body will not view your new meal plan the same way you do. It will view it as a famine. Your metabolic thermostat does not consider the intentions of your weight loss efforts- just the impact of fewer calories. Even if your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are high and your physician tells you that you’re showing early signs of diabetes, your body is not able to recognize that this calorie restriction is in place to improve your health.
The result of your self-imposed starvation will be all of the changes that we discussed earlier when we learned about the way that your metabolic thermostat functions when exposed to starvation conditions. Your hunger increases and your metabolism slows sabotaging your ability to stick to your diet or exercise program. The result is inevitable. You resume your normal eating pattern while your metabolism remains slow and you rapidly regain all of the weight you’ve lost and often an extra few pounds for good measure. Yo-yo dieting (known as weight cycling in the medical literature) often results in a net weight gain as your body gradually shifts more toward a fat storage mode as a result of the frequent, random periods of starvation you impose. Yo-yo dieting has also been shown to increase cardiovascular risk factors and even mortality. Weight loss does not have to be painful- despite popular opinion. As we will discuss in detail later, there are much more sensible ways to lose weight than by attempting to starve yourself.