“Yo yo dieting” is the phrase used to describe the results of typical starvation diets: whatever weight you lose, you gain it (or more!) back as soon as you start eating normally.
A study from Colorado State University looked at yo yo diets – they called it Weight Cycling – and found that dropping a lot of weight and then gaining it back is no protection against cancer risk.
Here’s the citation if you want to read the study yourself:
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Nov;4(11):1736-42. Epub 2011 Oct 7.
Weight cycling and cancer: weighing the evidence of intermittent caloric restriction and cancer risk.
Thompson HJ, McTiernan A.
Cancer Prevention Laboratory, Colorado State University
The abstract concludes: “Collectively, the data argue against weight cycling and indicate that the objective of energy balance-based approaches to reduce cancer risk should be to strive to prevent adult weight gain and maintain body weight within the normal range defined by body mass index.”
I repeat, to reduce cancer risk strive to prevent weight gain!
It’s like the classic advice that the best way to lose weight is to not gain it in the first place.
So instead of crash dieting, the best way to protect your health is to focus on finding a healthy way to eat that will lower your body weight into a healthy range and allow you to keep it there, without yo-yoing up and down.