Weight cycling refers to the repeated process of intentionally losing and then gaining the weight back. Weight cycling is often called yo-yo dieting because the dieter’s weight goes up and down over and over again. A single weight cycle is defined as one instance of weight loss followed by weight regain. Some research links certain health risks to weight cycling.
Weight cycling sometimes happens to people who repeatedly go on and off diets. The process generally results in gaining and losing a similar amount of weight over and over again. Some researchers define weight cycling as the loss and regain of at least 20 pounds three or more times. While other scientists define weight cycling as the intentional loss and unintentional regain of ten pounds or more.
Weight cycling or “yo-yo dieting” is often associated with crash dieting. During a crash diet, you consume very few calories and lose weight very quickly. Crash diets are different than very low-calorie diets (VLCDs) that are generally supervised by a physician and are part of a comprehensive weight loss program.
After a crash diet, it is very common to regain weight. Weight regain happens because the calorie deficit that created the weight loss is too difficult to sustain. In addition, many crash dieters rebound by binge eating and regain the weight they lost and sometimes even more.