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Fast Way to Lose Weight and Avoid the Yo-Yo Diet Effect

Many people mistakenly believe restrictive eating is the only fast way to lose weight. However, if you have tried to lose weight with restrictive eating, you may have experienced the yo-yo diet effect.

The yo-yo diet effect is when your weight fluctuates up and down like a yo-yo on a string as you alternate between eating normally and extreme calorie restriction.

Others believe running on a treadmill daily is the only fast way to lose weight. However, doing the same type of exercise daily can cause overuse injuries and muscular asymmetry in the body.

Also, working out – on its own – doesn’t burn as many calories as people hope. The screen report on the cardio machines at the gym will often exaggerate the number of calories burned during a training session.

In reality, the fast way to lose weight involves instilling six habits, all in combination.

The 6 Habits that Comprise the Fast Way to Lose Weight

The weight that comes off incrementally is the weight that stays off permanently.

If someone has 50 pounds of body fat to lose – or less – the most intelligent strategy is to lose an average of 1 pound of fat (.45 kilos) weekly.

At the end of the year, you will have lost 52 pounds (23.6 kilos) of fat. And since you lost that weight the smart way, it will likely remain off permanently.

In the grand scheme of life, going from fat to permanently trim within one year is fast.

For example, it might have taken you eight years to gradually add those 50 pounds. But you can lose it all permanently in less than a year.

That’s fast.

Step One: Shave 200 Food Calories Off of Your Typical Day of Eating

The temptation when you want to lose weight fast is to go on an extreme fast, or crash diet.

This can be successful initially, but unfortunately, the tendency is to eventually return to old eating habits. This leads to gaining all the lost weight back – and then usually a few more pounds of fat on top of that.

This pattern is called the yo-yo diet effect, and it can be discomforting and counterproductive. Fortunately, there’s something you can do about it.

mature woman experiencing yo-yo diet effect

Here’s what you need to know about the yo-yo diet effect, how to avoid it, and what you can do instead.

People who are physically active for 30 or more hours a week – such as professional athletes or construction workers – need to fuel their bodies to match the intensity of their typical day. But for most of us, our lifestyles are much more sedentary than our ancestors. Therefore, many of us require fewer calories.

Make the decision to no longer consume more calories than you burn in a typical day.

Lessen your calories by 200 from your average daily diet and see how it makes your body feel.

Decreasing your daily food intake by 200 calories a day is not that much; you’ll notice it, but it won’t be painful. Over time, however, it will make a big difference when you step on the scale.

Saving 200 food calories off a typical day is so doable that it doesn’t have to be part of a temporary diet. Instead, it can be considered a permanent habit upgrade – a positive lifestyle change.

Step Two: Burn 300 More Calories Each Day Through Exercise

Science has proven that running reduces the mutations in our body’s mitochondria.

That means that working out regularly reduces the risk of accelerated aging by helping the body heal and replicate its own cells, and that keeps you looking – and feeling – younger.

You can alternate the type of exercise you do each day. This is called cross-training, and it’s highly effective because your body is less likely to acclimate to movement patterns. Therefore, your metabolism stays responsive and is less likely to plateau.

mature fit couple learning how to lose weight fast with cross-training

A fast way to lose weight is to alternate the types of exercise you do. That way, you’ll be less bored and more likely to workout daily – with improved overall results and less chance of injury.

No matter what the modality, you can exercise daily to the point where you burn at least 300 calories from each day’s workout.

A fast way to lose weight is to move vigorously each day.

Step Three: When You Feel Hungry, Drink a Glass of Water

Sometimes, your body’s signals can get crossed. When you think you’re hungry, you’re actually just dehydrated, and if you’d drink a glass of water instead of eating something, your physique would feel sated within a few minutes.

Hydration is an integral part of the metabolic (using fat cells for energy) process. So when you feel hungry, drink a glass of water instead and see if your hunger pangs subside. A fast way to lose weight is to stay hydrated.

Step Four: Get Better Sleep as a Fast Way to Lose Weight

It’s more challenging to lose weight fast if you’re sleeping poorly. All of the body’s various systems – including metabolism – operate more efficiently when the body is getting ample, quality sleep.

It’s not just about sleeping longer (although that will likely help, too); it’s about sleeping more deeply during the night.

Stop consuming caffeinated beverages after 3:00 pm, and stop using electronic devices after dark.

Improve the air quality in your bedroom and make your room darker, quieter, more serene, and more comfortable.

If it helps, consider using white noise machines and earplugs or black-out curtains and an eye mask.

Step Five: Eat More Whole Foods and Less Processed Foods

The less healthy food we eat – much of the food found currently in the standard modern diet – the more effort it requires of our bodies.

There is also evidence that a lower-calorie intake extends lifespan.

Digesting food is a significant effort for the human body. Giving your body a bit of a rest from having to digest so much might free up its energy to work on healing in other parts of the body.

When a person starts eating more whole foods and less processed foods, that usually results in a higher protein intake and fewer carbohydrates (from flour and sugar). Because of this, it’s common to lose 8 pounds of water weight right away – usually in the first couple of weeks. This is natural and the reason why the weight loss is averaged over the full time period (you might lose weight quickly in the beginning and less quickly toward the end, but the average remains the same: about one pound each week).

Eating more whole and less processed foods will improve overall health. When overall health is improved, cells work more efficiently, which means all body’s systems work better, including metabolism. A fast way to lose weight is to become healthier overall.

Step Six: Avoid the Typical Challenges of the Yo-Yo Diet Effect

Everyone worries about their weight sometimes.

It can be frustrating to go from doing everything right for a while – and feeling proud about it – to then sliding into previous habits, gaining back the pounds you lost, and adding a couple of new pounds on top of that.

This is a typical yo-yo diet pattern.

It’s extremely common and can be profoundly disheartening for the dieter who has been working hard while on a sort of emotional roller coaster.

If you’ve been dieting for any length of time and haven’t seen results, or if you’re one of those people who has lost weight only to put it back on again, there’s probably something in your life that causes you to go off track when it comes time to watch what you eat — and this is the yo-yo diet effect.

It is possible to lose weight fast. But how fast? It’s all a matter of perspective.

The yo-yo diet effect often occurs when someone tries to lose weight too quickly.

The human body has evolved over the millennia to protect itself from periods of famine.

A body will hold on to fat cells as a means of creating emergency energy-storage tanks. That way, you’ll be less likely to die while crossing the desert or being stranded in a snow blizzard and experiencing starvation.

Any time you’ve been on a very restrictive diet, you have signaled to your body, “famine is an expected part of my experience.” So, naturally, your adaptive body will recognize that fat-cell storage is still necessary.

To understand this better, it’s helpful to adopt an ancestral perspective. After all, it’s only recently that manufacturing and industrialized foods have become a reality. In most of human history, periods of famine were pretty standard.

Therefore, to prevent metabolic alarm bells from going off inside your body, it’s wise to lose weight incrementally – usually reducing fat by approximately one pound (0.45 kilo) each week.

An exception would be if you were, say, 5’2″ and 260 pounds (118 kilos). Morbidly obese is an unfortunate term that sounds judgmental but is a scientific way to convey that a person is over 80 pounds (37 kilos) above their ideal weight. In such a scenario, losing weight faster than one pound each week might be appropriate.

We human beings are peculiar creatures. It takes us a year to add 40 extra pounds, and yet we expect to successfully lose those 40 pounds in six weeks and keep them off permanently!

In reality, consistency wins this race.

Shift Perspective from “Diet” to “Lifestyle Change”

The whole concept of a standard diet is very middle-of-the-last-century.

On the classic diet, you’re supposed to eat a certain way for a short while, lose weight, then go back to eating the way you always have and still keep that lost weight off.

It defies logic.

Instead of adopting a temporary diet, implement a lifestyle change.

The anti-inflammatory lifestyle is a method of living that seeks to remove unnecessary irritants from your experience. Any habits or behavior patterns that don’t help you to thrive in the long term are released.

The dieting part of the anti-inflammatory lifestyle usually involves eating primarily vegetables, and some meat and fruit (how much protein and carbohydrates one consumes is based on physical activity level – they have to be earned).

Because it’s lower-carb eating, one usually loses at least 8 pounds (3.6 kilos) of water weight within the first couple of weeks, but this is natural and does not need to count toward the “only one pound a week” formula, which refers to fat loss specifically.

mature man gives up yo-yo diet for health

Once you successfully reach your target body weight, you can experiment with a celebratory, weekly “cheat” meal that allows for a bit more calories and carbs.

Yo-Yo Diet Effect After the Age of 50

Your body’s ability to expend calories efficiently – and use fat cells for energy – peaks up until about age 21.

Then it stays about the same, until after 50.

Though there are individual metabolic differences based on genetics, generally, your ability to burn calories effectively slows down as you approach the age of 60. This is why the yo-yo diet effect is best avoided in mature years; the body has a more challenging time bouncing back from aggressive treatment.

Risks of the Yo-Yo Diet Pattern

Extreme dieting is a typical response to weight gain. Unfortunately, this can lead to the yo-yo effect — the repeated loss and regain of weight — which can be particularly problematic after age 50.

Yo-yo dieting may increase the risk of several health concerns, including:

  • Increased risk of heart disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Diabetes.
  • Reduced physical strength; fat is easier to regain than muscle, and muscle is easier to lose than fat.

How to Avoid Extreme Dieting and the Yo-Yo Effect

To avoid the yo-yo diet effect, you can follow a healthier eating plan:

  • Drink water abundantly; however, if you’re following a lower-carb menu, you might benefit from adding electrolyte trace mineral drops to your water to help prevent dehydration.
  • Intermittent fasting can be helpful; however, if you’re an athlete who trains hard and often, protein in the morning will be essential. It will feed muscles that have gotten “dry and thirsty” overnight.
  • Eat all kinds of vegetables (dark leafy greens, cruciferous, and rainbow colors) and eat them often. The fiber and micronutrients will probably be hugely beneficial (exception: some people do better by mostly avoiding nightshade vegetables such as white potato, bell pepper, tomato, and eggplant).
  • When you eat fat, stick to the healthier versions, such as coconut, avocado, and olive oil (and perhaps small amounts of nuts – such as almond, pecan, and brazil).

Periodically Re-Evaluate Your Priorities as a Fast Way to Lose Weight

A key aspect to creating a healthy balance in your weekly life is to put your health as the top priority.

Your body needs fuel to function, and food is the crucial element in that equation. Eating well doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want — it means eating foods that are good for your body. In other words: nutrient-rich foods rather than empty calories or empty carbs.

A primary focus here is ensuring those nutrients are getting into your system. And if they happen to help with weight loss simultaneously? Excellent.

Healthy eating habits are not just about what you eat. They’re also about how you think and feel about your body, as well as how much time you spend exercising.

Eating right is a lifestyle choice that requires constant attention to all aspects of your health, not just one aspect. In other words: it’s not a diet.

What is a “diet?”

A diet involves strictly limiting or eliminating certain foods or food groups to lose weight quickly through calorie restriction.

If you’re looking for a fast way to lose weight, you can try various extreme diet plans. However, if your emotional eating habits aren’t under control — if you’re still making unhealthy emotional choices when it comes to food — then all those healthy choices will be for naught because they won’t last long enough for them to become part of an overall healthy lifestyle pattern.

The yo-yo diet effect can have a negative impact on metabolism. The above six habits comprise a fast way to lose weight permanently.

Helpful Sources about the Fast Way to Lose Weight:

Research on Weight Cycling – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27773644/

Metabolic Syndrome and the Yo-Yo Diet Effect – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17283263/

Weight Gain After Dieting – https://www.nytimes.com/1981/02/24/science/the-science-of-dieting-a-fight-against-mind-and-metabolism-027184.html