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Weight cycling in men

Reviewed by our expert panel
Weight cycling in men

Recently, I have been reading a lot about the physical effects of 'weight cycling', which can be fairly ghastly – on average, it seems this results in an increased risk of a range of illnesses and injuries. For instance, weight cycling has been shown, in men, to increase the risks of gallstones, bone fractures, hostility, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Overall, some researchers have concluded blokes who yo-yo diet are two times more likely to die of coronary heart disease than men with stable or even steadily increasing weight.

What upsets me about weight cycling the most, however, is the obvious psychological and social damage it causes to the individual concerned.

US talk-show host Oprah Winfrey is a public figure whose weight cycling often takes up column inches. We have all watched Oprah's weight fluctuate over the last two decades. She has severely suffered as a yo-yo dieter and the media enjoy exploiting every shed or gained kilo. She was quoted recently saying that in 2009, she is going to 'conquer the fat for good'.

So. The plan is to avoid weight cycling altogether, either by maintaining body weight or 're-setting' body weight at a different level and maintaining this permanently. Easier said than done! For me, maintenance at a different level has been difficult (and not completely successful!), but my best tip is to try and relax. Let your body tell you what it wants, rather than force it to do something society wants. This might mean maintaining a body weight which is not what your socially conscious mind would prefer, but is what your body sustains.

  • There's no need to radically change your diet and life-style in one hit – one or two small changes a week is doable. Wholesale change is unhealthy.
  • Weight plateaus are healthy and normal. It means the change is being assimilated by the body. You don't need to try to kick things along. Stick to your plan and see
    a plateau for what it is – a good sign of general health!
  • Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. It's that 'simple'.

Did you know? Young Kiwi men (aged 15-24) drink an average of 300ml soft drink each day. Each 330ml regular soft drink contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar.

First published: Jun 2009

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