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Brain Sees Yo-Yo Diets As Short Famines; Result Is Weight Gain

Dorathy Gass

‘Tis the season for candy canes, yummy appetizers, alcohol, and other high-calorie foods. Still, while it is important to indulge now and again, it may be a bad move to jump into a diet that is low in calories once the new year hits. As per a recent study, your brain views repeated diets as simply short famines, causing it to store more fat for shortages in the future, thus causing weight gain in the end.

The study was launched by two universities in the UK; one being the University of Exeter and other, University of Bristol. While losing weight after the holidays tends to be a big New Year’s resolution for many, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people that lose weight slowly, about one to two pounds each week, tend to be more successful and keeping it off.

In this latest study, the team used animal mathematic models – birds for example – where they know when there is an abundance of food or when it will be scarce, but may not know when this will change. The team noted that the animals dealt with food shortage by gaining weight and storing energy. This reveals that when there is less food around, much like when a person is dieting, an efficient animal tends to gain weight during the time where there is a lack of food.

As co-lead author, Prof. Andrew Higginson, University of Exeter, stated, their model forecasts the average weight gain dieters will experience is higher than those that don’t diet. This is because the brain of these non-dieters understands that the supply in food is reliable, and there is less need to ensure they store fat.

Medical News Today reported that while one’s brain could be functioning fine while dieting, the repeated ‘yo-yo’ effect triggers the uncertainty around food supply, thus causing a weight gain response.

The team adds that the model reveals that the ‘want’ around eating will heighten as the diet continues, and this will not disappear even when individual gain weight. This is because a person’s brain may believe that there are likely additional famines on the horizon. The model further adds insight as to why many individuals fall into a weight gain cycle while continuing restrictive diets. They only further communicate to a person’s brain that more fat needs to be stored.

Still, what about those who tend to go overboard during the holiday season when it comes to indulging? Is there any hope of shedding those extra pounds? Prof. Higginson adds this insight: go steady when it comes losing weight. Eat only a bit less than normal, partake in an exercise routine, plus, avoid low-caloric diets.

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