Truth about Yo-Yo Dieting

yoyotoyIf you’re a yo-yo dieter like me, you probably think you know everything there is to know about dieting and even nutrition. You’ve tried it all. You can calculate how many calories, points or carbs are on a plate with just a quick glance. But maybe, just maybe, what you have always thought was good as far as diet, wasn’t completely true.

Look at the ingredients on a package of 100 calorie snacks or even low-calorie bread. What’s in it? Bread should not have 57 ingredients! What are you putting in your body? Who cares if a slice of bread is 60 calories if its full of crap that your body is not designed to process! Can you even pronounce half of them? For me, I had embedded in my brain that calories are all that matter. Maybe you think it’s carbs. Please just try for a minute to forget what you think you know. Take a deep breath, here we go..

I went through a year-long plateau. I was working out at least 6 days a week (trained for and completed three half marathons and was doing P90X). I was aiming for 1400-1600 calories a day but I would add more depending on how many calories I burned, but, I was not losing weight. To say it was frustrating, is an understatment. I thought there was something wrong with my body. “Myfitnesspal says if I eat this many calories I will lose 2 pounds a week. What’s wrong with me?”

It turns out, I had a few things wrong. For one thing, I was eating too few calories. Friends had told me to be careful because I was consuming calories at a rate that would slow down my weight loss. I honestly didn’t believe them. Myfitnesspal APP told me I could lose 2 pounds a week if I eat this much, but it was wrong!

Finally I found out something that shocked me. It was the actual calculation to figure out how many calories your body needs just to keep itself running (you know: breathing, heart beating, blood pumpin’ etc). Its called the BMR. Here’s the formula:

Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )

Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year )

Here’s mine: 655+ 709.05 + 305.5 – 155.1 = 1514

1514!! My body needs 1514 calories to STAY ALIVE. No wonder I was tired and grumpy and felt sick. Plus I was working out – A LOT! I did usually eat many of the calories I earned from exercise, but seriously. On top of that, I was feeding my body CRAP! Diet, fat-free, sugar-free, low-carb CRAP!

Here is where the yo-yo dieting comes in: you can only starve yourself for so long before you BINGE! You are hungry, so finally you eat and eat and eat, and then you think, I have failed, I give up – it wasn’t working. But eventually you try again. Hence – the yo-yo.

I found three things that really helped me turn weight-loss into a lifestyle:
1) Clean eating: which I will describe more below
2)Knowing the actual number of calories I should be consuming to lose weight while clean eating (some people who practice a clean eating lifestyle lose weight without counting calories, but I still find it helpful.)
3) Making exercise a habit


Basics of clean eating lifestyle:
– get rid of as much processed food in your diet as possible, your body does not know what to do with these chemicals and stores them as fat
– get rid of white flour and sugar
– 8-10 servings of raw fruits and veggies a day
– Healthy fats actually help you lose weight: avocado, coconut, olive and other healthy oils, nuts, seeds, fish, etc
– eat quality protein: lean meats, beans, eggs
– look for natural whole ingredients you recognize

So how do you figure out how many calories you should really eat to lose a healthy amount of weight a week?

First you need to know your total daily calorie needs to MAINTAIN your weight (don’t worry – we’ll get to losing weight soon), multiply your BMR (# from earlier) by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:

•If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) BMR x 1.2
•If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) BMR x 1.375
•If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week)
BMR x 1.55
•If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) BMR x 1.725
•If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) BMR x 1.9

My BMR is 1514 and I am very active (workout 6 days a week) So to MAINTAIN my weight the equation is: 1514 x 1.725 = 2,611 calories

To lose 1 pound a week subtract 500 calories from your maintainance #
Me: 2,611-500= 2,111

To lose 2 pounds a week subtract 1000 calories from your maintainance #
Me” 2611-1000= 1,611

KEEP IN MIND, I already calculated the fact that I will be exercising 6 days a week. So I aim for 1850 calories of CLEAN food. (Although I do allow 2-3 planned treats a week but they stay within my calories.) 1850 is a completely do-able number for me. I am not super hungry. I can enjoy good healthy food. Usually I break it into 6 small meals a day. I like that I can hit my number even on days I don’t work out. And on days I do workout, I use myfitnesspal and I wait until the end of the day to add my exercise so the calculation of earning calories doesn’t confuse me.

What are some other things that you think might cause people to be yo-yo dieters?
What are some solutions you have found that have helped?

I will be posting clean recipes soon, I promise!

BMR Information from:


3 responses to “Truth about Yo-Yo Dieting

  1. Great post, Carrie. I was blown away by my #s. I started to think that there is no way that I could eat the amount of calories the math suggests. But I easily hit that # when I pig out!

    • Marc, are you talking about maintainence #?s If you have a hard time getting to the higher calories, you might want to add more healthy fats like adding a tablespoon of coconut oil to your smoothie, or adding more nuts, etc. Of course good lean protiens are also great options. There are healthy ways to add more calories, and I know it seems weird but it is what has finally helped me.

  2. Pingback: Why we need MORE than a diet | Running in the Wind·

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