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Old 11-29-2011, 10:57 AM   #1
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Default Set Point Theory?

Hey Everyone,

So I work in healthcare research and currently I'm studying obesity and bariatric surgery. I personally study social aspects of health but I'm around a lot of other medical researchers and psychologists.

There is always talk about 'set point theory' the idea that your body will alway fight to keep it self in it's set range of about 20lbs and it's really hard to gain or lose more then that. I find this true for my self, my weight is normally between about 135-155 and I've never succeeded to getting it any lower.

Do you guys believe in this theory? Also, anyone have any tips for getting your self below your set point?

Thanks!
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Old 11-29-2011, 11:25 AM   #2
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I am now below my lowest ever weight since I was a pre-teen, so my set weight of about 150lbs has been blown to pieces
I simply persevered past my plateau of about 4 months and then I kept losing...I also kept changing up my routine and eating plan
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Old 11-29-2011, 05:53 PM   #3
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Doing a quick look at studies on pubmed seem to show that it has been debunked years ago.
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:01 PM   #4
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It was not difficult for me to continuously gain weight.
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Old 11-29-2011, 11:00 PM   #5
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This issue has come up multiple times in the Maintainers Forum:
http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/livi...et-points.html
http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/livi...set-point.html

I don't know enough about the science and studies behind it, but I can speak anecdotally. I am pretty sure my body does have a set point- somewhere around 119-125. I was around the lower end of that in high school and the figure I had then is pretty much just a larger, filled out version of the figure I had all throughout my childhood. Even as a 2-year-old I had a softer body than my skinny-minny sister, I was always in the 50% weight range on my growth charts (and then 10% height range). All my photos have the same small torso, larger arms, and larger legs. I carry a bit more muscle than others my size and always have, even when I was a middle schooler before building and lifting for sports began.

My point is that I'm pretty sure the body I had before puberty- which was very normally-sized and healthy- is fairly representative of the body I will continue to have. I will never be thin or skinny- but a bit curvy and muscular. (Think Hayden Panettiere with a few more lbs in her lower half...that's me. We have the EXACT same arms!). At my height and age, that puts me right now at 122-124 comfortably.

That might drop a bit with some body recomposition work, which I'm really aiming for. But I'm coming to terms with the fact that getting below that would require extreme measures which are unhealthy and unsustainable.

I've had a hard time finding the balance between taking responsibility for just "getting it (weight loss) done" and realizing what is out of my control. I do think that our body's genetics and natural shape determine to some degree the size it feels it should be to be healthy. Fighting that too much doesn't lead us anywhere
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Old 11-30-2011, 12:10 AM   #6
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Set point is often misunderstood. The myths have been debunked, but not the actual science.

The actual science just found that many people do not gain the amount of weight you would expect them to, when you increase their calories. In fact, many will just compensate unconsciously (feed them more, and they'll move more without even realizing it) or even autonomically (their metabolic rate will rise).

Set point theory was never meant to argue that people are unable to lose or gain weight, just that there were biological processes that compensated for change.

I think I have had many set points. I think set point may explain why on the same calorie level, you can lose really well for a while, stall for a while, and then have a big loss - all on the same calorie and activity level.

I've had a hard time getting under 300 lbs. Was my difficulty psychological? Did I have difficulty getting under 300 lbs, because the last time I was under 300 lbs was nearly 20 years ago, and I couldn't see myself at that weight? Or was my body physically resisting the change, because that weight hadn't been "normal" for almost 20 years?

I'm not really sure, but I think probably a little bit of both.

I'm still eating at the same calorie level that I've been on for some time, but I'm losing faster. Did I somehow push past my set point, or did I finally get enough weight off that I'm able to be less and less sedentary?
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Old 11-30-2011, 07:41 PM   #7
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Interesting points everyone, and thanks for those links indiblue
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Old 11-30-2011, 08:02 PM   #8
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This is interesting. I have lost and gained this weight many many times (though most successfully during my current attempt whoohoo!) and I notice I hang up on very specific numbers. Every. Time! 209, 183, 163... give me trouble. I wonder if this has something to do with that?
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Old 12-02-2011, 01:54 AM   #9
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Yep, I notice it with certain weights as well. One weight in particular - 128 - was a constant weight for me when I was in my teens, before I started gaining weight. I didn't have to do anything special to maintain it, and before I started overeating, I would pretty much hover around that weight. I don't know if that would be my current body's 'programmed' weight that it would be happy at, or if that ideal weight is more malleable. Hmm...
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:29 AM   #10
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I used to believe in the set point theory until at age 64 I dropped my old excuses and started consistently counting calories. I am now at my lowest weight since my 20's. I have noticed that if on holiday (or using any other excuse to over-eat) my weight climbs and I have to get back on plan.

Having said that, there may be such a thing as set point, but I prefer not to believe in it.
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:42 AM   #11
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Yeah, i'd like to not believe in it..because I'm not satisfied with my body at 135-140. Fivestone - if your body hovers around 128 how did you get your weight down from there?

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Old 12-02-2011, 02:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LisaTcan View Post
Yeah, i'd like to not believe in it..because I'm not satisfied with my body at 135-140. Fivestone - if your body hovers around 128 how did you get your weight down from there?

Lisa
This is where "believing in it" can have an advantage. If you don't believe it exists, and you can't get past a certain weight - you're going to believe that you're not working hard enough, or that you're lazy, crazy, or stupid in some way. After all, if your body isn't "fighting you," you're just a big, old, lazy loser (and not the good kind of loser).


But the "set point" theory scientists do have suggestions for "resetting your set point." I don't remember all of them, but two I do remember are getting more sleep, and exercising. Both have been shown to "reset" the body's set point. I also believe that calorie-cycling, intermittent fasting, and changing the times and sizes of your meals are other techniques that are supposed to reset your set point.

I can say I've experienced the "sleep" one very dramatically myself. When I was first diagnosed with sleep apnea, and prescribed a cpap (a machine that blows air down your nose to keep your airways open), the doctors told me that I would probably lose some weight without even trying - without making any changes to my lifestyle.

To be honest, I thought they were all nuts, because I never lost a single pound in my life, without trying desperately to do it.

So when I discovered that 8 months or so later (I didn't even own a scale) that I had lost 20 lbs without trying, I was astonished.

I wouldn't be here today, if it weren't for that accidental weight loss, because I was convinced that dieting only ever caused me weight gain. Even starting "this time" was terrifying. I was more focused on keeping the 20 lbs off than on losing any more (and for the first two years, that's all I was able to do. Keep the 20 off, and work on becoming more active, but getting more weight off, didn't work very well).



The problem is that people aren't believing in the "whole theory" just taking bits and pieces of it - either to blame other people for not being able to lose weight they're trying to lose - or to justify not doing enough to change their own weights.

Set point theory does not declare that set point is written in stone, and not even that your body necessarily has a genetically programmed pre-set weight. Rather there are just obstacles in the way of resetting the weight your body is working to maintain.

Knowing what the obstacles are, can help you bypass them.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:13 PM   #13
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That's some great advice kaplods, thanks I'm now going to do more research into "changing your set point"..and avoid working on my thesis hehe
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