Seeking data about the health effects of dieting for non-overweight people interested in moderate weight loss.
April 23, 2007 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Is there data about moderate weight loss for the relatively thin? For example, we all know that yo-yo dieting is bad, etc., etc. But is there any data about whether it's bad for a not-overweight person to gain five pounds every winter and then lose it every spring? It seems like all the healthy eating and weight loss stuff I read is based on studies of fat people.
posted by croutonsupafreak to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A person's weight can fluctuate 5 pounds in a day or two just in the course of retaining and shedding food and water. If it's really that little weight that you're gaining and losing, I doubt it even counts as weight gain and loss unless you're a really, really tiny person.

I googled "weight fluctuation 5 pounds," and most of the results that came up seemed to support my contention that normal body weight can fluctuate several pounds in the course of daily life. There was one journal article, in the International Journal of Obesity, that looked like it might be relevant, but it was behind a firewall and cost $30. I'm not that committed to AskMe.

What's most unhealthy about yo-yo dieting is the dieting part--the part where you restrict calories to an unnaturally low level, lowering your metabolism and starving your body and then changing your eating habits abruptly over and over again. As long as you're maintaining relatively healthy and stable eating and exercise habits (that doesn't mean they have to be exactly the same--you can eat more soup in the winter and popsicles in the summer--just close to the same) I wouldn't worry too much.
posted by decathecting at 12:39 PM on April 23, 2007

i'm not a nutritionist or a doctor, but i don't think 5 lbs is a big deal. i think they really are concerned about people gaining and losing, say, 30 lbs or more.

i would imagine that if you eat right and exercise, that 5 lbs of holiday/winter weight are not anything to worry about. your metabolism slows a bit in winter anyway, so it might be unavoidable.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:43 PM on April 23, 2007

When I was younger (and not riding a desk like I do now) I was very active during the summer/autumn and chained to a desk writing reports on what I had done during winter/spring. I easily gained 10+ pounds during that off-season and lost it just as fast when I started working outside again. I think thats pretty normal.

And five pounds is nothing, as stated above. Dont fret about it.
posted by elendil71 at 12:51 PM on April 23, 2007

Most mammals I know of put on fat in the fall for the winter, burn it off over the winter, and emerge in the late spring as svelte as ever.

I really wouldn't worry about it.
posted by Netzapper at 1:00 PM on April 23, 2007

Response by poster: OK, I won't worry about. Follow up: Is there data about moderate weight loss for the relatively thin? Have there been any studies, have there been any research, on weight loss and weight gain amongst people who are not overweight?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:44 PM on April 23, 2007

Response by poster: about IT, oops.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:45 PM on April 23, 2007

To answer your follow up, there have been 3 television programmes shown in the UK in the past 3 months about women with "healthy" BMIs losing weight. You should note that in all 3 programmes the women crash dieted to lose weight very fast. Links to the programmes: Super Slim Me, The Truth About Size Zero and Superskinny Me.
posted by boudicca at 1:41 AM on April 24, 2007

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