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Your body's "set point"



  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Member Posts: 30,886 Member Member Posts: 30,886 Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    Dictionaries and the definitions of words are our friends.

    conscious (my word) -
    aware of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.
    fully aware of or sensitive to something (often followed by of):
    conscious of one's own faults; He wasn't conscious of the gossip about his past.
    having the mental faculties fully active:
    He was conscious during the operation.
    known to oneself; felt:
    conscious guilt.
    aware of what one is doing:
    a conscious liar.
    aware of oneself; self-conscious.
    deliberate; intentional:
    a conscious insult; a conscious effort.

    conscience (your word) -
    the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action:
    to follow the dictates of conscience.
    the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
    an inhibiting sense of what is prudent:
    I'd eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me.
    Obsolete. consciousness; self-knowledge.

    One would not be CONSCIOUS of secreting more leptin and insulin as a result of weight gain, nor would we be CONSCIOUS of leptin and insulin acting on the brain leading to reduce food intake.

    I'm sure you think your point was perfectly clear, but I'm afraid I cannot tell from the context just why you posted the definition of two words I'm sure we all understand. Is this intended to disagree with stevencloser's most recent post? I do not believe he was confusing the two terms, but intentionally using a different one to give his understanding of what happens.

    It actually is common for people to gain weight over the holidays, also. I know I've read that there's a (small) average gain per year but that it's not normally throughout the year, but over the holidays specifically.
    I was under the impression he mistook the two words, as I was pointing out the internal mechanisms at work of which we are not aware. I could see how he used conscience as a synonym for guilt as a result of overindulgence, leading to behavior change. However, nothing I cited mentioned ones conscience, guilt, or cognitive awareness, but rather the physiological mechanisms at play in relation to body weight stability.

    I think he was giving his own explanation of what happens, no set point required. I'm sure he didn't think you were talking about conscience. His English is impressive.
  • IdLikeToLoseItLoseItIdLikeToLoseItLoseIt Member, Premium Posts: 597 Member Member, Premium Posts: 597 Member
    I totally agree with set point and homeostasis. Especially when one is listening to one's body. I was at the same set weight from 13-35. I never thought about calories nor logged any exercise. I simply went about my life exercising when I felt like it and eating what I wanted, when I wanted it. If I wasn't hungry, I didn't eat. It took major sickness or major work to move the scale in either direction and it quickly returned to normal. As I stopped listening to my body and began eating when not hungry and not exercising, the weight slowly crept up (15lbs) over a span of 5 years or so.
    I think this is why the concept of a body weight set point is so incredibly amazing. Imagine the margin of error for maintaining ones weight over the course of so many years. Even an extra 50 calories per day would lead to a 5 pound gain per year, yet our bodies are capable of maintaining this tight control over weight. Set point theory/homeostasis and CICO/laws of thermodynamics are not exclusive, they're part of the same amazing internal 'thermostat' at play. I think that's fascinating to no end!
  • ekat120ekat120 Member Posts: 407 Member Member Posts: 407 Member
    yarwell wrote: »
    If there was a set point, it should work both ways, no? Meaning if you gain weight, your body would try to get you back down to whatever your setpoint is. Funny how that seems to happen to no one.

    Happens to rats -

    Probably people after similar overfeeding too..... back to Google......

    Yeah, personally, it seems to work both ways for me.
  • Bob314159Bob314159 Member Posts: 1,178 Member Member Posts: 1,178 Member
    It's hard to say- at one point I was 330, then pushed hard to lose. Once I got to 300, I felt I had achieved something - and I guess didn't try so hard. For the next three years - I stayed between 292 and 299, without counting calories or exercising. Was that a set point, or my sublimilal micro adjustment of food to maintain weight?
  • yarwellyarwell Member Posts: 10,573 Member Member Posts: 10,573 Member
    Kevin Hall has a patent application in and has published on the setpoint issue. He believes that the setpoint response, whatever it may be, is greater than the metabolic response to calorie restriction.

    So if for example restricting calories takes 50 or 100 cals/day off the metabolic rate he believes that the response to weight loss would be to eat 300 or 500 cals/day more.

    Not sure this has been demonstrated in an RCT like the rats, but his idea is that we will eat more if your weight is below setpoint and less if it is above. If the "gain" of the controller is say 50 cals/day per lb then if you're underweight (compared to setpoint) by 20 lbs you would eat 1000 cals/day more than maintenance.

    I don't know if setpoint advocates believe the controller gets broken in obesity, or has the setpoint changed, but someone who is 100 lb overweight does seem to overeat rather than undereat. Why is the 300 lb man in the donut line, for example ? Does he need a software update ?

    Or is the hypothesis that the control regime respons to rate of change of weight, rather than absolute weight, so if you're losing weight you eat more regardless of whether you are under or over your "ideal" weight.
  • robininflrobininfl Member Posts: 1,144 Member Member Posts: 1,144 Member
    If there was a set point, it should work both ways, no? Meaning if you gain weight, your body would try to get you back down to whatever your setpoint is. Funny how that seems to happen to no one.

    I don't think it works that way. You can grow new fat cells, but when you lose weight, you do not see a decrease in fat cells. That's why I think it is easier to change your set point up rather than down.

    I appreciate your comments. I have been slowly losing from my highest at 196, to now somewhere in the 170s, using high fiber, vegetables, exercise, CICO, etc. as my strategies to maintain before losing again. After reading these articles, I'm happier about my slow loss, and even maintenance.

    It *does* seem to work that way for me.
    Once I reached a healthy weight, I spent most of my adult life hovering around 125-135 (depending on exercise type - heavier exercise, slightly higher weight. Less muscle, lower weight) when not pregnant. I gained a lot with 4th baby when I was older, postpartum hit 150lb at 39 years old. I started back light exercise again, nothing extreme, didn't pay attention to diet, and settled back to 125 by 41 years old. I was confused at having to buy different clothes - thought I had dropped 5lb until I did the math and realized it was so much.

    So I would say my body has a set range, if not a "point". Also I would note I was around 20% bodyfat at 125lb and STILL around 20% bodyfat at 136lb, so it seems to have a "set composition" as well. I think if I gave up the yoga and lifting, and just did aerobic stuff, I would lose both lean mass and fat and go right back to the 125.

    I do understand that you can add fat cells but not lose them, short of liposuction! That is a biological reality. Also agree on slow changes being safer and healthier. But my body still seems to want to settle back to its comfort zone. Down maybe even more than up, in my experience. Like it doesn't want to fund all that extra mass.
  • LivingtheLeanDreamLivingtheLeanDream Member Posts: 12,916 Member Member Posts: 12,916 Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    Set point is a bunch of bull crap. I lost weight...I've maintained for three years pretty easily simply by living a more healthful lifestyle than I was before...set point is just more excuses. People gain weight back because they fail miserably at actually adopting a healthier lifestyle...they talk a lot of talk, but can't walk it.

    To the point ....but true!
  • chocolate_owlchocolate_owl Member Posts: 1,431 Member Member Posts: 1,431 Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I think it has to do with eating habits and activity, but I find the same thing. 130 was the weight I maintained for years, then I gradually gained, lost down to 120 (I was really active) and floated back to 125-130 and stayed there for ages. I am doing the same thing this time -- I think it's just about what level of eating and activity I'm comfortable with or maybe even what body feels right/okay/normal to me vs. too heavy. Complacency is a huge part of why I can't get myself to work to go lower this time.

    I haven't noticed that I get hungrier at the lower weight, but I have noticed that when fat and less active I can easily do something like 1200 and now there's no way, even on an off day. But that could be that I'm not motivated to lose as much as I was.

    This has been my experience as well. 130 is an easy point for me to maintain because it's where my natural inclination toward movement and my natural inclination toward eating align. It takes much more diligence at a lower weight for me to maintain it.

    In for more of this discussion, it's very interesting. Plus I need science to argue with my mother the next time she claims she can't lose weight because set point.
  • snikkinssnikkins Member Posts: 1,282 Member Member Posts: 1,282 Member
    At my highest weight, I hung out there for quite a bit of time because I was eating that much to maintain that weight. It was effortless. It wasn't, however, my set point. I'm down about 55lbs right now and am more or less maintaining here right now as well.
  • Need2Exerc1seNeed2Exerc1se Member Posts: 13,589 Member Member Posts: 13,589 Member
    If there was a set point, it should work both ways, no? Meaning if you gain weight, your body would try to get you back down to whatever your setpoint is. Funny how that seems to happen to no one.

    I think it does happen. My body seems happiest around 150 - 155 lbs. For most of my young adult life I was lower than that but I had to constantly think about it. Watch what I eat. Diet frequently.

    But it's pretty easy to maintain at 150 -155 lbs. Not that I don't need to think about it. I do, especially in Winter when I tend to be more sedentary, but it's not a constant fight. If I get more than about 10 lbs over that I start to feel it. I feel fat and cumbersome. And it's pretty easy to get back down to 150ish. Losing to lower than 150 is more of a battle.
  • BarbieASBarbieAS Member, Premium Posts: 1,444 Member Member, Premium Posts: 1,444 Member
    I don't have the chops to weigh in on the science of this, but here's my n=1 input:

    I've gained and lost significant weight a few times - up about 90lbs during the first 2 years of college, stayed there for about 2 years - let's call that "Weight X." Lost about 80lbs during grad school (without TOO much effort, honestly), kept it off for a bit, then got married and gained about 35lbs of happy fat, and then got pregnant and gained another 55 more as of the day I gave birth (that includes baby and all, so not all fat, obvs). After baby was born, lost a little, gained a little back, and settled again at Weight X - yes, same number. Stayed there til I got pregnant with my 2nd child 18 months after my 1st was born. Gained only 18lbs that time, lost a little after baby was born, gained a little back, and AGAIN settled at Weight X for about 9 months until I came to MFP to lose again. Yes, I'm sure I fluctuated around Weight X by a couple of pounds during those periods, but I'm 100% serious when I say that my weight on the day I started WW in college, the day I got pregnant with my daughter, and the day I started MFP are all the same.

    It has been an epic struggle to lose and get back down to that a healthy range; I'm only about 25lbs down over the past 4 years despite relatively consistent efforts. My metabolism (as confirmed by medical RMR testing) is toast, about 25-30% lower than it "should" be based on traditional calculations, and the longer I try to lose the harder it gets to make any progress at all. Maybe it's just bad luck. Maybe it's genes and getting older. Maybe there's a medical issue that 4 years of testing and doctor's visits hasn't been able to identify. Or, maybe there's a biological process at work to limit my weight loss because my body "wants" me to weigh Weight X. Again, I don't have a deep understanding of the science, but from a non-scientist's perspective it certainly seems feasible.

    (Edited to add: The first time I gained weight, I do NOT mean to make it seem that I believe that was a function of any sort of set point thing. I gained weight in college due to poor eating habits, too much booze, and depression/binge eating. It was only after I initially reached that point [and leveled off; probably just because my weight finally caught up with my typical intake such that I wasn't eating in a surplus anymore] that my natural metabolism and eating habits seem to drive me back to that same weight.)
    edited May 2016
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