Move Your Set Point and Lose Weight

set point diet When it comes to weight, let’s take a look at what exactly is a biological set point. Simply put, the set point is the range (usually within a 10% fluctuation) our body was genetically programmed to weigh. Much like our height was determined by genetic factors, so is our body weight…mostly.  It is also governed by our hormones and environmental factors which all influence how the hypothalamus affects energy output and intake (eating and metabolism).  The amount of food we eat, how much body fat we store and the calories we burn are all regulated by our hormones, neurotransmitters and microbiome.  Set point theory states our “set point weight” is automatically controlled.  Our bodies want to maintain the status-quo, also known as homeostasis.  It explains why certain people, no matter what they eat remain rail thin (don’t be a hater!) and others stay obese on a normal diet of 1500-2000 calories per day.

Remember: Set Point weight is still a theory.  It is not a proven scientific law.  Most scientists believe 75% of our set point weight is influenced by genetics; the rest is what we do.  Set point deniers bring up the obesity rate, arguing that if obese people had a set point they wouldn’t get so big.  However, it’s possible that obese people have essentially ‘broken’ their set point by overwhelming their hormones with bad eating habits, stress and lack of sleep.  My question to the deniers is what stops most overweight people from getting so big they literally explode (1000 lbs and more)?  Every extra 3500 calories ingested is supposed to translate into 1lb of fat…so where does it all go? 

When you under-feed (diet) your body will self regulate and decrease its metabolic rate and burn less energy.  As the diet continues your body will strive to conserve more energy in an effort to maintain its current weight.  Sadly,  it will not preferentially burn off your fat stores. It will look to burn off the most metabolically demanding tissue available, lean muscle mass. It is easy to maintain fat stores because they don’t cost your body energy.  Muscle, on the other hand, requires lots of energy to maintain.  You can think of it this way:  If you wanted to slow down a sinking ship would your throw off the styrofoam cups first or the iron anchors?  Your muscles are the iron anchors of the body.  When we go on low calorie diets our bodies will increase the set point range, believing it has experienced starvation and must protect against such danger again.

Most diets are like mini starvation periods. Our ancestors, in true Darwinian fashion, were the individuals that were best able to deal with and live through times of starvation.  They passed along these effective fat storing genes to their kids and eventually we got them (thanks, great-great grandpa!).  Our bodies can’t tell the difference between starvation and dieting….it just does what it knows and holds on to its fat.  The more starved our body is, the higher it raises the set point. Got to get ready for that next looming famine! Don’t diet.

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Factors that Influence The Set Point:

  • Dieting – frequent dieting and yo-yo weight fluctuations can cause a higher set point
  • Disease (Diabetes, Thyroid dysfunction, cancer, Cushing’s Disease)
  • Stress
  • Medications
  • High sugar diet
  • Depression
  • Exercise habits
  • Environmental toxins

How to Lower the Set Point:

  1. Eat wholesome foods with a focus on organically grown non-starchy vegetables, nuts, legumes and a salad everyday.  Beware of low-fat or no-fat foods which usually a chock full of sugar.
  2. Actively use de-stressing techniques like meditation, naps, exercise etc.  Stress raises cortisol levels (and other hormones) and forces the body to store more fat.  Learn to relax.
  3. Limit exposure to environmental toxins – this is a hard one because they are all around us.  Besides the smog we breath in and the chemicals in our food – there is off gassing of our furniture, paint and floors; absorption of chemical dyes in our soaps, creams and clothing; unknown fillers in our supplements; chemicals in our cookware etc. etc. The data on how environmental toxins directly affect our weight is inconclusive, however it stands to reason the less exposure we have to these toxins the better off we will be.
  4. Limit all processed sugar/carbohydrate based foods from Twinkies to Campbell’s Noodle Soup.  Steer clear of most desserts especially the ones you did not make from scratch.
  5. Eat a few servings of healthy fat everyday including olive & coconut oil, avocado, seeds, nuts, oily fish and/or organic grass fed yogurt, butter and/or beef.
  6. Stay hydrated and avoid all diet drinks and soda.

Increasing the quality of wholesome foods you eat and minimizing the processed junk (and sugar) will do wonders for your satiety. The reason 95% of all dieters fail long-term is because they do not permanently change their habits.  At the end of the day, the best diet for you is the one you can stay on – which also happens to leave you healthier happier and less hungry

 

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the weight range in which your body is programmed to weigh and will fight to maintain that weight.

– See more at: http://www.mirror-mirror.org/set.htm#sthash.DIfWWSnQ.dpuf

the weight range in which your body is programmed to weigh and will fight to maintain that weight.

– See more at: http://www.mirror-mirror.org/set.htm#sthash.DIfWWSnQ.dpuf

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