In the US, 80% of girls have been on a diet by the time they’re 10 years old.
In this honest, raw talk, neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt uses her personal story to frame an important lesson about how our brains manage our bodies, as she explores the science behind why dieting not only doesn’t work, but is likely to do more harm than good. She suggests ideas for how to live a less diet-obsessed life, intuitively.


Yo-Yo dieting refers to a situation in which somebody repeatedly loses weight through dieting and then regains the weight that he or she has lost.

Fad dieting refers to a reducing diet that enjoys temporary popularity. Usually promoted in magazines and other forms of social media and are often supported by celebrities.

Characteristics of a Fad Diet
Typically, a fad diet shares some, or all, of the following characteristics:

Promises a quick fix

Promotes ‘magic’ foods or combinations of foods

Implies that food can change body chemistry 

Excludes or severely restricts food groups or nutrients, such as carbohydrates

Has rigid rules that focus on weight loss

Makes claims based on a single study or testimonials only.


What many dieters are unaware of is that these forms of dieting come with an increased risk of many health problems. Some of these health problems include; increased risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes; damage to arteries; less energy; muscle wasting; and higher levels of body fat.

Increased Risk Factor For Disease
Extreme calorie restriction, which is a common practice among yo-yo and fad dieters, can increase cortisol which is a stress hormone. When this hormone is present in your body over lonScreen Shot 2016-02-18 at 11.22.40 PMg periods of time, it can have many negative health effects. In fact, it can even increase your risk of developing heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Dieting in this manner can also damage arteries and cause an increase in LDL cholesterol, both of which increase the risk of heart disease.

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
The lack of variety in these diets often means that an individual will not be consuming enough types of food and therefore an individual may develop a deficiency in a certain or many vitamins and minerals. Each deficiency has it’s own individual health risks but each one is detrimental to your health and how your body functions.

 Lowered Muscle and an Increase in Fat
While yo-yo and fad dieting may initially promote fat loss, in the long term you will likely regain that fat and more. In addition, low-calorie diets lead to muscle wasting, which means once you get back to your normal eating habits, you’ll be left with a physique that lacks muscle and carries excess fat. These types of diets are generally really restrictive and hard to follow and can in turn lead to binges and then unhealthy eating after you end the diet. Fat cells can shrink when you loose weight, however the number of fat cells your body has cannot decrease. Therefore it is healthier to stay at a stable healthy weight than Binge and Purge as this can lead to an increase in the number of fat cells. Excess body fat can have negative health consequences, including the onset of chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Lack of Energy
Yo-yo and fad dieting slows down your metabolism, which can lead to low energy levels. When the body doesn’t have the necessary calories to function, it makes adjustments. These adjustments can mean limited brain function, tiredness, fatigue and irritability.

 A Healthier Approach to Weight Loss
A much healthier, safer and more permanent approach to weight loss is to slowly and consistently lose weight over a longer period of time. You should not attempt to lose more than 0.5 – 1kg per week. Consume a balanced healthy diet, see a dietitian for a specific plan and also pair you healthy eating with physical activity. Remember there is no quick fix, consistency and persistence is the key.

2 Comments on Why dieting does not work: Yo-yo and ‘Fad’ dieting

  1. Diet Plans
    October 23, 2016 at 8:19 pm (5 years ago)

    Good entry. The most impressive I’ve come across.

    • fundamentalnutritionforall
      November 15, 2016 at 5:10 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you 🙂


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