Weight Loss Support - Weight "set point" theory...

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12-29-2008, 12:57 PM
So I've come across some information online about this theory of a weight "set point"... or a weight that your body has decided is acceptable and works on it's own to maintain -- oftentimes by adjusting your metabolism. Often times it's set by genetics or environmental issues, but it would appear that it can be "reset" by maintaining a weight loss or gain for awhile. According to this theory, one of the reasons it's harder to lose weight is because you're actually fighting against this internal body fat regulator. It takes action to break it, which would be excessive calorie intake/lack of exercise to go higher or a more restrictive calorie intake/more exercise to go below it. According to this...when your body reaches plateaus...those are points at which it's set up a set point.

I actually believe this theory because I've seen it in action on myself. I remember when I was younger and in my attempts to lose weight, my weight *always* hovered around 170. If I stopped paying attention to my weight and ate whatever with no concious thoughts about it, I would weigh myself a month or two later and still be within 3 lbs of 170. I remember thinking how odd that was. Surely I should have gained weight after absolutely no concious attention to my calorie intake(I don't always eat like an angel)--not to mention I never exercised.

Years later, I hopped back onto a scale after not paying attention to weight for god knows how long---171! That was before I took my nose dive and started eating anything and everything and put on a quick 40 lbs in the early stages of my engagement...but I lost weight steadily and successfully...until I got into the 170s! Then it slowed down and I ended up maintaining around 174 for almost a year. I got frustrated...obviously I wanted to go lower but it just stopped working for me and eventually I accepted it. Until now, now I'm back on track and I want to continue my journey to my goal weight.

Now that I'm back on track...I've passed the 170s and I'm looking to attempt to reset this "set point" at something lower. Apparently, the longer you maintain a weight(assuming it's an acceptable weight and not underweight), the stronger your body will accept it and try to maintain it in place of it's previous "set point".

I just thought that was interesting it seemed to make some sense. Any one heard anything about this or have any information on it?

12-29-2008, 01:20 PM
This is so interesting. I have been stuck in the 170's for about 8 months now. It seems everything I do results in still seeing 170+ on the scale.

BUT... the only time I remember this happening before was when I was starting college and I got stuck in the 140's for the longest time. In fact, I only got out of them for a month or two before getting married and gaining about 20 pounds! :)

Interesting thought though.

12-29-2008, 01:24 PM
Your metabolism works to maintain your weight. So if you eat more, you burn more, and if you eat less, you burn less. Which is great when maintaining, not so helpful when losing. It's very interesting to me to consider how becoming obese, and then losing weight, and then maintaining long term, all affect your body's normal baseline metabolism and also the way it adjusts that metabolism day to day and month to month, as compared to someone who was never obese to begin with.

12-29-2008, 01:25 PM
I blogged exactly that recently on my blog - my current "set point" seems to be in the mid-160s. No matter how poorly I eat, I might bounce up a little, but I always seem to come back down to the 160s.

I believe that "set points" exist for a lot of people and I believe that for those of us losing a LOT of weight, set points can be our bodies ways of taking time to get adjusted to weighing less. I know not everyone hits these plateaus, stalls, or set points ... but I know a lot of us do. And I think that it's a natural and normal way for our bodies to acclimatize.


12-29-2008, 01:26 PM
Well it's annoying as ****. :D

12-29-2008, 03:26 PM

This phenomenon is so common that some of us on 3FC have termed the 160s-170s the "Bermuda Triangle of Weight Loss." I hit that point twice with running and calorie counting in my previous weight loss attempts. I got frustrated with running farther and eating less and not breaking through. This time, as I reached 175, where I had stalled for so long before, I changed up my plan dramatically. I started lifting weights and ate to support muscle development. You can persist through and your body should get the idea eventually and lower this set point. Or you can shake things up (weights, HIIT), and I hope you blast through it too.