If you’ve learned the hard way that diets don’t work, with a calorie-magnet metabolism to prove it, don’t despair. Linda Smith finds there is a way to get off the yo-yo for good

Yo-Yo diet - Diet tips

» Don’t drop your calories

Never cut daily intake below 1,200 for women and 1,700 calories for men.

»  Keep calories at a steady level

A minimum 1,200 a day, with the occasional weekend/special occasion blowout.

»    Eat at regular intervals

Try to eat every three hours (breakfast at 7am, mid-morning snack at 10am, lunch at 1pm, afternoon snack at 4pm, dinner at 7pm).

»    Calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Find out how much energy your body needs using an online calculator.

»    Start now!

Even if you’ve spent half your life on drastic calorie-reduced diet, you can repair your metabolism. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to eat like a non-dieter again.

»  Repair the physiological damage

If you’ve dipped to starvation calorie levels, start by upping your daily calorie intake to 1,200 a day and exercising regularly – within three to six months your metabolism should be firing on all cylinders.

»    Exercise

If you do need to create a calorie deficit for health-oriented weight loss. This will allow you to hit your targets without sacrificing precious metabolically active muscle or sending your body into energy conservation mode.

Remember, eating is only part of the picture. Dieters who have stooped to drastic calorie intakes have often lost metabolically-active lean muscle.

When they do return to the weight they were, their body composition comprises a higher percentage of body fat than before they dieted, predisposing them to further weight gain, as fat burns just a third of the energy muscle does. Post-dieters may also look heavier even at their pre-diet weights, as fat is less compact than muscle, meaning 5kg of body fat consumes more space than 5kg of muscle. If that’s not disincentive…