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Your body's "set point"

karmelpopcornkarmelpopcorn Posts: 77Member Member Posts: 77Member Member
This topic is an expansion of what is being discussed with regard to the Biggest Loser, "that the brain’s weight-regulation system considers your set point to be the correct weight for you, whether or not your doctor agrees". (Click link to see the article where I pulled that quote).

The NPR radio show "Forum" had a good discussion on the topic today.

What I take from the conversation is that once you have allowed yourself to become overweight or obese, you have already done some damage. New fat cells can be created as you gain weight, but they do not disappear when you lose. Hormones play a large role in hunger signals to help us gain back weight, metabolism slows down, etc.

I like to see results on the scale, but I don't think of myself as being on a diet. And frankly, results on the scale are extremely slow, and sometimes all I can do is maintain. But I have a feeling getting to and staying at my goal weight comfortably may not happen.
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Replies

  • IdLikeToLoseItLoseItIdLikeToLoseItLoseIt Posts: 585Member, Premium Member Posts: 585Member, Premium Member
    I read a book by Dr. George L. Blackburn who likened losing weight to a rubber band. The further you go from your set point, the further and tighter that rubber band stretches and wants to shoot back to its original form. His suggestion was to lose weight slowly, lose 10% at a time, then maintain that 10% for at least six months before trying for another 10%.

    I think set point is simply homeostasis. A tenant of nature, homeostasis wants things to stay the same. Whether it is regulating body temperature or body weight, the human body has numerous mechanisms to adapt and keep everything the same internally for survival as external factors change.
  • ekat120ekat120 Posts: 407Member Member Posts: 407Member Member
    In my experience, if I can get to a weight and stay there for a while (few months to a year or more), my "set point" shifts and my body seems to settle into that weight. It becomes harder to gain or lose. My "set point" used to be mid-160s, but for the past 3-4 years it's been around 140. I would have to try really hard to get back up to the 160s.

    Part of it might be hormonal/physiological, but I think a lot of it is that I've developed and cemented new habits for eating and exercise, so deviating from those habits is difficult. For example, I have less of a sweet tooth and prefer smaller portions. I still love candy and stuff, but I used to put 4 packets of Equal in a venti Americano from Starbucks, whereas now I can't drink more than a tall, and I don't sweeten it at all. Both options are basically calorie free, so it's not a matter of making myself have less to save calories. It's about how my eating habits and preferences have changed.
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    ekat120 wrote: »
    In my experience, if I can get to a weight and stay there for a while (few months to a year or more), my "set point" shifts and my body seems to settle into that weight. It becomes harder to gain or lose. My "set point" used to be mid-160s, but for the past 3-4 years it's been around 140. I would have to try really hard to get back up to the 160s.

    Part of it might be hormonal/physiological, but I think a lot of it is that I've developed and cemented new habits for eating and exercise, so deviating from those habits is difficult. For example, I have less of a sweet tooth and prefer smaller portions. I still love candy and stuff, but I used to put 4 packets of Equal in a venti Americano from Starbucks, whereas now I can't drink more than a tall, and I don't sweeten it at all. Both options are basically calorie free, so it's not a matter of making myself have less to save calories. It's about how my eating habits and preferences have changed.

    This is my experience and I tend to agree with your explanation (it also is consistent with my experience). However, this does also go along with the research (I don't have the link but it's been linked a bunch of places) that the initial drop in leptin, etc. tends to go away about about a year.
  • MissusMoonMissusMoon Posts: 1,911Member Member Posts: 1,911Member 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.
    Personally, the fact that I lost 50 pounds (over 20% of my starting weight), and am maintaining that with absolutely no problem without even counting most of the time and not being overly hungry and that for my second year now, tells me this is all humbug/another way to not take responsibility for one's actions.

    Well put.

    I know that I do have a place in the lower weight ranges that I find very easy to maintain. It's still a chubby weight, though. I have a feeling it has to do with being comfortable with a certain activity level and portion size and not some magical set point.
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    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.
  • IdLikeToLoseItLoseItIdLikeToLoseItLoseIt Posts: 585Member, Premium Member Posts: 585Member, Premium Member
    Set point theory works with weight gain as well.

    See this:

    http://www.obesityaction.org/educational-resources/resource-articles-2/weight-loss-surgery/body-weight-set-point-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-know

    I think the best real world example of this is post-holiday weight gain. After an indulgent 2-3 weeks around the time of Christmas/New Years, the scale will reflect those indulgences, but your natural appetite will decrease. Have you ever over-indulged, only to not care about food nor wish to have another drink or treat for a period of time after? This is subtle and most people may not consciously register this decrease in desire for food, but it does happen. Follow this decrease in appetite and the scale will go back down without effort.

    I think it's important to point out that this is short term gain, over a short period of time ingesting far more calories than we would normally. The body WILL help pull you back from this.

    Set point theory holds with slow, small, incremental weight gain over the course of years, too. The proverbial 20-40 pound weight gain over 20 years. The theory holds, because this gain was so slow that the body adapted smoothly and homeostasis was never threatened.

    An understanding of set point theory, homeostasis, metabolism, hormones, and neurotransmitters that influence appetite and weight are facts, nothing more, nothing less. The complexities are one piece of the obesity puzzle. Other puzzle pieces include behavior, environment, medical conditions, genetics, emotions, and nutrition; each of which has an entire body of research and debate within their field.

    I see set point theory and the drive for homeostasis as information that can help us better understand the science of human beings and being human.

    When it comes to weight loss and weight gain, do the laws of thermodynamics win at the end of the day? Yes. However, there is nothing wrong with understanding, learning about, and expanding on our body of knowledge regarding the science of body weight.

    ETA quotes from the article pertaining to set point theory in relation to weight gain:

    "The factors influencing body weight are symmetrical, working in both directions. That is, when weight-stable individuals are paid to eat more food and gain weight, they are able to do it; but throughout time, the process becomes harder and harder and they typically fail at some point and fall back to the lower weight they were carrying before the period of overeating occurred, and they accomplish this by eating less food than normal."

    and

    "If a person’s weight starts creeping up, the body secretes more leptin and insulin, and these in turn act on the brain to reduce food intake; similarly, when weight is reduced by dieting or other means, the reduced hormone levels signal the brain to increase appetite. Because of these processes, it is difficult for most people to maintain a weight that is different from their set point for long periods of time."
    edited May 2016
  • karmelpopcornkarmelpopcorn Posts: 77Member Member Posts: 77Member 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.
    edited May 2016
  • mom23mangosmom23mangos Posts: 2,820Member Member Posts: 2,820Member 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.
  • JaneSnoweJaneSnowe Posts: 1,282Member Member Posts: 1,282Member 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.

    But you are only describing CICO. Your weight stayed the same because your CI and CO were in balance. Then you began eating more and moving less and thus switched to CI>CO.
  • IdLikeToLoseItLoseItIdLikeToLoseItLoseIt Posts: 585Member, Premium Member Posts: 585Member, Premium Member
    Dictionaries and the definitions of words are our friends.

    conscious (my word) -
    adjective
    1.
    aware of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.
    2.
    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.
    3.
    having the mental faculties fully active:
    He was conscious during the operation.
    4.
    known to oneself; felt:
    conscious guilt.
    5.
    aware of what one is doing:
    a conscious liar.
    6.
    aware of oneself; self-conscious.
    7.
    deliberate; intentional:
    a conscious insult; a conscious effort.

    conscience (your word) -
    noun
    1.
    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.
    2.
    the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
    3.
    an inhibiting sense of what is prudent:
    I'd eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me.
    4.
    conscientiousness.
    5.
    Obsolete. consciousness; self-knowledge.
    6.
    Obsolete.

    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.
  • yarwellyarwell Posts: 10,573Member Member Posts: 10,573Member 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.

    Happens to rats - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3543262

    Probably people after similar overfeeding too..... back to Google......
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    Dictionaries and the definitions of words are our friends.

    conscious (my word) -
    adjective
    1.
    aware of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.
    2.
    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.
    3.
    having the mental faculties fully active:
    He was conscious during the operation.
    4.
    known to oneself; felt:
    conscious guilt.
    5.
    aware of what one is doing:
    a conscious liar.
    6.
    aware of oneself; self-conscious.
    7.
    deliberate; intentional:
    a conscious insult; a conscious effort.

    conscience (your word) -
    noun
    1.
    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.
    2.
    the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
    3.
    an inhibiting sense of what is prudent:
    I'd eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me.
    4.
    conscientiousness.
    5.
    Obsolete. consciousness; self-knowledge.
    6.
    Obsolete.

    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.
    edited May 2016
  • yarwellyarwell Posts: 10,573Member Member Posts: 10,573Member Member
    http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/64/8/2859.full looks at how some individuals have a bigger TDEE response to overfeeding or calorie restriction than others, postulating two phenotypes.

    If TDEE responds to surplus or deficit it at least looks like a simple proportional control system for body weight.
  • mom23mangosmom23mangos Posts: 2,820Member Member Posts: 2,820Member 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.

    But you are only describing CICO. Your weight stayed the same because your CI and CO were in balance. Then you began eating more and moving less and thus switched to CI>CO.

    I would agree to a certain extent, but if I were to log a typical day from before, I ate between 3000-5000 calories per day. With a TDEE of supposedly around 1400, my slow weight gain did not follow the expected numbers.
    edited May 2016
  • yarwellyarwell Posts: 10,573Member Member Posts: 10,573Member Member
    I would agree to a certain extent, but if I were to log a typical day from before, I ate between 3000-5000 calories per day. With a TDEE of supposedly around 1400, my slow weight gain did not follow the expected numbers.

    the link I posted above found wide variation " The mean energy deficit required to lose 1 kg of body weight was 4,935 kcal (2,239 kcal/lb; range 3,434–6,600 kcal/kg and 1,558–2,993 kcal/lb). "
  • IdLikeToLoseItLoseItIdLikeToLoseItLoseIt Posts: 585Member, Premium Member Posts: 585Member, Premium Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    Dictionaries and the definitions of words are our friends.

    conscious (my word) -
    adjective
    1.
    aware of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.
    2.
    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.
    3.
    having the mental faculties fully active:
    He was conscious during the operation.
    4.
    known to oneself; felt:
    conscious guilt.
    5.
    aware of what one is doing:
    a conscious liar.
    6.
    aware of oneself; self-conscious.
    7.
    deliberate; intentional:
    a conscious insult; a conscious effort.

    conscience (your word) -
    noun
    1.
    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.
    2.
    the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
    3.
    an inhibiting sense of what is prudent:
    I'd eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me.
    4.
    conscientiousness.
    5.
    Obsolete. consciousness; self-knowledge.
    6.
    Obsolete.

    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.

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