• By Jason Howland

Mayo Clinic Minute: Why yo-yo dieting might be bad for your heart

January 10, 2019

For many people, a new year means a renewed effort to lose weight. So you crash diet – only to gain it all back again.

If this sounds familiar, you could be yo-yo dieting. Research shows yo-yo dieting, also called weight cycling, can stress your heart. But a recent study published in the journal Nutrients says, while heart health worsens if you go back to unhealthy eating, it improves again if you restart the healthy diet. Researchers say your best option is always to eat healthy, but if you slip up, try again.

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, reporter Vivien Williams talks to Dr. Amy Pollak, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, about the health risks of yo-yo dieting and how to work in a healthier, stable eating plan.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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They are the ups and downs of yo-yo dieting.

"So many of us have done a yo-yo diet," says Dr. Pollak.

Dr. Pollak says research presented by the American Heart Association shows postmenopausal women who yo-yo diet ...

"... Where they gain weight and then lose weight, and then gain weight and then lose weight, seem to be at a higher risk of cardiovascular death. So that means dying from a heart attack or stroke."

She says it's not clear yet why yo-yo dieting is unhealthy, so more research is needed. But, she says, they do know one diet that's proven to lower your risk over time. It's the Mediterranean diet, which features five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, whole grains, fish, olive oil, nuts and low-fat dairy.

"Hopefully that will translate into less of the yo-yo dieting, which really may have a negative impact on our heart health," says Dr. Pollak.

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