Stop Yo-Yo DietingJan 04, 2022
There are many reasons we find ourselves unable to stop yo-yo dieting. This blog explores the reasons why and also two ways to cut the string.
Here is an overview of the blog
Reasons for Yo-Yo Dieting
Yo-yo dieting, also called weight cycling, is a pattern of losing weight and then regaining it. Your weight goes up and down, like the action of a yo-yo. Often it is because a diet is chosen that is too strict for a person's lifestyle or is just, in general, not sustainable.
Ultimately, dieters revert to their old eating habits, now with the added emotional baggage of how they feel about themselves for failing to lose weight or to keep it off. People tend to eat more than they would have because of the emotional state they are in of seeing themselves as a failure.
Sometimes there is no emotional component and there is just a boomerang effect of wanting to eat all things that were given up in the diet or wanting to eat in quantities that were not allowed. Well, I suppose that is emotional, but not in the sense that there is deep dark hatred and disappointment in yourself. You just want all the things.
Finding whether a keto or low carb diet is right for you will stop this yo-yo and boomerang right in their tracks.
Sustainability of changes
In my work I talk about "diet prison" and what this means. One difficulty is that the chosen lifestyle change may not be sustainable. That might be weighing, measuring and tracking food intake. Many people thrive on this and so it is not a prison to them. They love it! But it might not be you.
Passing the initial euphoria
Beyond the issue of an eating style being sustainable or not, there are those of us who do feel confined and imprisoned once we are past the initial euphoria of being on a new diet. This euphoria can come from the excitement of all the new and shiny diet tools and recipes, and the hope they bring. The euphoria might be from the initial thrill of the first weight loss.
Another notch in the belt of failure
Another difficulty is that when we fail at restrictive dieting we just have another notch in the proverbial belt that says we are a failure, we can't do it, we are lazy, stupid or broken.
We keep trying one diet after another but the time we spend on it becomes shorter and shorter. The very last time I joined Weight Watchers it didn't last through dinner!
Buddha's Parable of the Second Arrow
In my blog about forgiving ourselves, I talk about the parable of the second arrow.
The story goes as follows: A person is walking through a forest and gets struck by an arrow, which causes great pain. He asks, “Should I just stay here and let myself get struck by another arrow?”
The first arrow is the circumstance, which we often cannot control.
The second arrow is our reaction to it.
We often hear that “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” If you get struck by an arrow and are vulnerable, do you then shoot another arrow into yourself or allow others to?
This is what happens over and over and over again
This is what happens over and over and over again when we are following a food plan, “fall off the wagon,” and then continue to shoot one arrow after another into our hearts and souls.
The second arrows come with the messages: “I’m stupid,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’ll never get this right,” “This is too hard,” “I’m too lazy,” “I’m not worthwhile,” “I hate myself.”
No matter how perfectly you follow a food plan, you are, at one time or another going to get struck with that first arrow – maybe many different times. It’s painful.
- Get up, move on and don’t suffer.
- Learn your lessons.
- Maybe a prison-like diet is not for you.
- Let's see what alternatives there are.
How a Low Carb or Keto eating style can stop yo-yo dieting
- Following a low carb or keto eating lifestyle will stop bathing your system in sugar, which brings about cravings and urges.
- As you see further down in this blog about the connections between sugar consumption and insulin production, this sugar bath also causes fatigue and hunger.
- Imagine if you could get rid of cravings, urges, hunger and fatigue. You would be well on your way to cutting that yo-yo string.
I am using the traditional meaning of the word diet: "The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats."
I don't want my clients to dwell on the colloquial meaning of the word diet, which is the restrictive dietary-regimen meaning of the word in terms of losing weight.
Keto and low carb can be seen as restrictive ways of eating because most sugar is no longer eaten, but I prefer to think of them as the more true meaning of the word: just the way we choose to eat.
The way I teach keto and low carb in my course Breaking Free From Diet Prison: The Roadmap to Low Carb and Keto Success, supports an intuitive eating path to eating this way.
- There are many ways to follow either way of eating, and both can include weighing, measuring and tracking your food.
- But it is possible to make this an intuitive journey that is sustainable for a lifetime.
- These styles of eating can be your escape route out of diet prison forever. I promise!
Health benefits of a Keto diet
Diabetes and blood sugar balance
- Cutting carbs lowers both blood sugar and insulin levels.
- When you consume carbohydrates those carbohydrates – regardless of their source – turn into glucose (sugar) in your system.
- Your pancreas produces insulin to drive that glucose into your cells to be used as energy.
- Insulin is the key to opening the receptors in your cells to receive this energy.
- However, when your body is constantly producing insulin in response to your high sugar intake, the cells become "deaf" to the insulin's knocking at the door.
- This is known as insulin resistance and once you have this condition there is a cascade of metabolic changes in your body, one of which is the inability to balance your blood sugar, most often resulting in type 2 diabetes.
- Because the cells are not getting the nutrients they need (because the entrance is locked), we can be hungry and fatigued even after eating a healthy meal.
- Lowering your carbohydrate intake will often heal and reverse this condition so that your cells can then use the insulin key to unlock the cells and allow sugar to be used for energy, thus reducing the sugar in your blood.
- With a well-formulated ketogenic diet most people can eliminate pre-diabetes.
- With diabetes that is already established, there is evidence that insulin dosage and glucose-lowering medication can be lowered or eliminated.
Normal fasting insulin should measure less than 5. My own experience was that my fasting insulin level was 49! My A1C was often above 6 - quite solidly in pre-diabetic range. After less than a year on keto, my fasting insulin dropped to 12 and my A1C, although mid-5's, was well out of pre-diabetic territory.
Reduced hunger and weight loss
The hormone system and its network are important factors in this process.
- When you have developed insulin resistance from chronic high-carbohydrate consumption, your body is overflowing with insulin, which in turn, affects almost all your other hormones.
- Insulin is considered the "master hormone."
- With regard to the discussion here, its main functions are to regulate the amount of blood sugar (glucose) that flows into the body's cells to create energy, and to communicate the need to refuel (that is, to eat or stop eating).
Two hormones that insulin helps to regulate that are very prominent in successful weight loss are ghrelin and leptin.
- Ghrelin is considered your "hunger hormone" and is produced in the stomach to signal hunger.
- When you eat a meal, ghrelin normally will decrease so that you are no longer hungry until it builds up again for the next meal.
- When you are insulin resistant, ghrelin decreases only slightly.
- Because of this, the hypothalamus doesn’t receive as strong of a signal to stop eating, and when you do, you are never quite satisfied and always have a certain level of hunger.
- Leptin, on the other hand, is considered your "fullness hormone" and is secreted from your fat cells in the adipose (fat) tissue.
- Leptin also communicates with your hypothalamus but in this case, sends a fullness signal.
- As with ghrelin, insulin resistance dulls this communication so that not only are you hungry because of the unbalanced ghrelin production and communication, but now the imbalance of leptin's production and communication will make it so you never feel satisfied.
Dramatically lowering your carbohydrate consumption through either keto or low carb will heal your insulin resistance and thus get your ghrelin and leptin hormones functioning correctly. This reduces hunger and helps with sustainable weight loss.
I found all this to be true. Everyone who starts keto or low carb are bombarded with advice to start fasting, and I know myself, I said, NO WAY AM I EVER GOING TO FAST. Well, I have to tell you, I went from a 3-meal + 2 snacks + nighttime eating, to one or two meals a day. Maybe I had a snack, but usually not. It was strange – and almost scary – not to be hungry all the time. But it's a real thing, I promise you!
The Diet-Heart Hypothesis
The MYTH (known as the Diet-Heart hypothesis) is that fats (especially saturated fats) are bad for you. As a matter of fact,
- Fats serve very important functions such as
- building cell walls
- aiding in mineral absorption
- conversion of vitamins and minerals into forms that your body can use.
- Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble. They need dietary fat to be absorbed, and further, they are stored in your body's fat tissue and liver up to 6 months until your body needs them.
- If you eat low-fat or no-fat, you don’t get the full nutrients in these vitamins,
- The takeaway is to not skimp on real fats!
- Eating in a keto or low carb manner will often increase your HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) which is considered the "good" cholesterol.
- Triglycerides (the fat molecules that circulate in your bloodstream) tend to drop like a rock. I found this to be true for myself, with my doctor shaking her head when looking from one blood test to another, several months apart.
High inflammation is what causes heart disease and heart attacks.
Foods eaten in the Standard American Diet (SAD), where you are encouraged to eat at least 9 servings a day of grains – never mind all the sugar consumption aside from what SAD recommends – is what is causes arterial blockage, not saturated fats!
Ways to do Keto
There are many ways to "do" keto. The "gold standard" is to consume no more than 20 grams of total carbohydrates a day. This is where the prison aspect of doing keto can come into play. There are, however, many ways to successfully follow keto on a more intuitive eating level.
Here are just a few ways to eat Keto intuitively
- OMAD stands for One Meal a Day.
- It is a type of intermittent fasting.
- You consume one large meal.
- Many people find success with this way of eating.
- However, some people find that they cannot meet the nutritional needs of their bodies unless they truly gorge on fats and protein.
- This is a list of allowed keto foods and not-allowed keto foods.
- It is an easy and successful way to follow keto and low carb, as long as you are aware of the carbohydrates you are eating.
- Lazy Keto is, in a nutshell, keeping your carbohydrates to 20 grams or less, total or net, and just eating from Yes/No lists.
- There is nothing wrong with this if you combine it with your hunger and satiety cues.
- With fat fasting you eat when hungry, until full as often as necessary.
- Do not have dairy (except for up to 3 TBS of heavy cream for your tea or coffee).
- Do not have nuts during a fat fast
- Fatty foods include eggs, bacon, salmon, sardines, avocado and olives.
- See this source for full information.
- Carnivore is eating only animal products and fat.
- There are no plant products at all (except, usually, olives, olive oil, avocados and avocado oil).
- Eating fat and protein is self-limiting when you tune in to your hunger cues.
- These stand for Extended Fasting and Intermittent Fasting.
- Intermittent Fasting (IF) could be 24 hours or less (with eating windows of 2 to 12 hours).
- Under no circumstances should you do Extended Fasting EF without guidance and permission from your doctor.
Start with Keto if you have:
- Any severe metabolic issue(s) such as
- type 2 diabetes
- insulin resistance
- fatty liver
- An inflammatory condition such as
- skin condition
- inflammatory bowel disease
- An autoimmune condition
- Hashimoto's autoimmune thyroiditis
- Celiac Disease
- Graves Disease
- Alopecia Areata
- A great deal of weight to lose
As these conditions subside or are healed you can add carbohydrates as you feel comfortable, bringing your food choices more in line with a low carbohydrate way of eating.
What is a Low Carb diet?
This is a little tougher to define (but not tougher to do) than keto because how a person approaches a low carb diet can be very individual. This way of eating is definitely lower in carbs and higher in protein than a typical SAD (Standard American Diet). It emphasizes meats, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats.
In order for it to be truly intuitive where you don't have to worry about going overboard, and in order to find the most success with low carbohydrate eating, I suggest that
- you minimize your intake of high-carb foods like grains, starchy vegetables and legumes to 1-3 portions a day
- these high-carb foods come from natural or minimally processed sources
- you have fruit no more than twice a day
- anything containing sugar such as desserts and sweets have only 1-2 times a week
The recommended carb intake per day depends on your goals and can range anywhere from 100-150 grams of carbohydrates per day (50 grams of carbohydrates per meal), down to 50 grams of carbohydrates for the day.
Using Low Carb as a Gateway to Keto
If you are generally healthy but looking for either physical improvements (such as weight loss and less hunger) or emotional improvements (fewer reactions to triggers) then low carb might be a good option either as a permanent lifestyle or as a gateway into keto.
I highly recommend to use it as a starting point for keto because a slow introduction to keto makes the whole process easier. Also the range for carbohydrate consumption with low carb gives a lot of leeway. Just enough rope to feel free, but not enough to hang yourself! Which is right for you - Keto or Low Carb?
I encourage you to do your own research if you need more information to make a decision between keto and low carb, or between the various ways of following keto. Following either eating style will definitely help you stop yo-yo dieting.
Stay out of diet prison
To stay out of diet prison there are so many more tools such as sitting with urges, listening to your hunger scale or using the Good-Better-Best (GBB) method to make food decisions. I have bonus guides on all these tools. They are offered throughout all my blogs and I encourage you to get all of them.
However, just significantly lowering your carbs will go a long way to reduce your hunger levels, which in turn will keep you on a steady weight-loss path even if you start right out without weighing and measuring your food (outside of knowing how many carbohydrates you are consuming with various food choices and portions).
Low Carb or Keto - whichever you choose, can be a sustainable eating lifestyle and a sure-fire way to stop yo-yo dieting.
The trick is to stop flooding your system with sugar which causes
- negative self-talk
Open your mind to picking one of these paths as it will unlock the doors of your diet prison and bring you to easy no-fuss intuitive eating.
Learn more about this with my book and course:
Book Breaking Free From Diet Prison: Common Sense Keto and Low Carb
Course Breaking Free From Diet Prison: The Roadmap to Low Carb and Keto Success
Here are two free bonus guides to help you. One is about Ending Keto Confusion (the different ways you can follow keto and make it your own eating lifestyle). The second free bonus guide is to get you started with either keto or low carb.