Yo-yo dieting – switching between a hard-to-stick to low calorie meal plan and then going back to your normal way of eating again – actually encourages your body to store fat. UK researchers have found that following a low calorie diet causes your body to think it’s entering a period of famine, prompting it to store more fat to help you survive future food shortages.
“We found that non-dieters actually gain less weight on average than people who are always on one diet or another,” says Professor Andrew Higginson from the University of Exeter. “This happens because non-dieters bodies learn that the food supply is reliable so there is less need for the insurance fat stores.”
The research also suggests that your desire to eat will only get stronger the longer to try to stick to a low calorie diet, and that need for food doesn’t go away when you stop cutting calories because your brain is still in famine mode.
"The best thing for weight loss is to take it steady,” says Professor Higginson. “Eating only slightly less than you should, all the time, and doing physical exercise is much more likely to help you reach a healthy weight than going on low-calorie diets."