Stable Weight vs Yo yo Dieting

by Annie on April 19, 2010 · 3 comments

in Healthy Living,Hormones & Fat Cells,Weight Loss & Body Image

When I was in my twenties, I always come home from a weekend with my mom feeling like I need to lose 10 pounds ASAP.  Now that I am in my thirties and writing a health blog, I realized that my mom needs to a perception adjustment in the weight loss department.  I am surprise that she did not end up with three daughters low self esteem because she is constantly talking about her need to lose weight and projecting that negative vibe on everyone around her.

There were a few instances I can dreg up from my memories of her trying to lose weight as a child, but the majority of the time, my mom was too busy raising her brood of children and work.  It was not until she became an empty nester and all of her older siblings started having health issues that she became obsessive about weight loss.

But is your health really about weight loss?

My mom is fixated on the idea that as she loses weight, she will become healthier (or at least outrun the health issues plaguing her siblings).  But is your health really about weight loss?  Prior to writing my health blog, I would say yes with the absolute confidence that I am right.  Now, I am not so sure.

According to The Obesity Myth, it is healthier to maintain the same stable weight (whether you are overweight or not) over your adult life than is to have cycles of huge weight fluctuations from losing and gaining every few years. I am talking about being overweight here, not morbidly obese. In order words, yo yo dieting where your weight can change by as much as 25 pounds every few years is more detrimental to your overall health than if you had been able to hold your weight stable for most of your adult life.

Yo Yo dieting and fat cells

I also remember reading in one of my fitness magazines that the healthiest seniors are those who are within 5 to 10 pounds of their weight in their 20s.  Though few and far in between, I have met a few individuals who weighs the same now as when they graduated from high school.

I think the book might be right about how maintaining a stable weight over your adult life is a predictor of your overall health.  If you read any of my fat cells postings, you would know that fat cells are more than just storage of excess calories in our bodies.  It also produces hormones.  So if you were 20 pounds heavier, your body is used a certain amount of hormone production from your fat cells.  But when you lose weight quickly on a fad diet like Atkins, your body is left trying to figure out what happened to the hormones your old fat cells used to produce.  By the time your body finally adjusted to that 20 pounds weight loss… BAM!  You gain it all back again.  Yo-yo dieting stresses your body with this hormonal roller coaster every time your weight fluctuate wildly.  If you do this your entire adult life, is it any wonder you will be less healthy than your overweight peers who have maintained the same stable weight their entire adult life?

Toxins release with yo yo dieting

And then there are the toxins.  Your fat cells are one of the dumps sites for toxins that your liver cannot process.  Lipids surrounds the toxin (think of plastic wrapping the toxin), and then the whole thing gets shoved into a fat cell.  It is meant to be a temporary storage.  Once your liver cleans it current load of toxins, it is suppose to work on the extra toxins in your fat cells.  However, with modern day living, it is rare for your liver to catch up on its work load.  So when you lose weight quickly, all that toxins are released into your blood stream.  This is why some people who lose weight quickly sometimes get really sick.  If you are going to do a fad diet to drop weight quickly, at least do it while eating whole foods.  Then you will give your liver a fighting chance of riding your body of stored toxins.  If your fad diet is based on microwave dinners, your body is now trying to rid the toxins in the microwave dinner and the toxins released from your fat cells.  Hello, toxic overload.

Does this mean you should stop trying to lose weight?

No.  Even if your cholesterol levels and blood pressure are in the normal range, it does not lower your risk for cancers or osteoarthritis on the knees when you are overweight. The goal is to lose the weight slowly and steadily so you do not gain it back.  None of that 15-20 pounds weight loss and gain within a couple of years.  Not if your goal is to be healthy.  Like the tortoise, slow and steady to win the race.

Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.

Photo by:  Nicholas Petrone.

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