Set point weight theory

13

Replies

  • psychod787
    psychod787 Posts: 4,088 Member
    edited January 2021
    It's bull. Your "set point" is based on your habits. Change your habits and your "set point" will change, too.

    Yes ma'am, I agree with this, with some caveats......

    1. Its pretty well documented that people will lose weight through habits that lower calorie intake or increase calorie burn. Just like there will be an increase in most people who do habits that increase calorie intake or decrease calorie expenditure. Look into the "cafeteria" diet. Probably the best way to increase the adiposity of rats in a research environment is to give them unlimited access to "junk" food. Now, one of the best ways decrease the adiposity of these rats made obese, outside of deliberate calorie restriction, is to give them free access to a lower energy dense diet and access to exercise equipment. Though they lose the much of the lost adipose tissue, in some studies they maintain a higher adiposity level than control rats. This means something is causing them to have an increased body fat, while now having the same "lifestyle" as the control animals. Why? I have a few thoughts, but the biggest is the maintenance of an increased adiposity level for a certain amount of time.
    2. There is evidence that the brain plays a role in human eating behavior. We have wondered why some people seem resistance to becoming obese in our current environment. Some people think that they just have a faster metabolism, but that does not seem to be the case. They DO have the habits that one would need to lose weight and maintain it, but there seems to be a genetic component to this behavior. Not saying that certain habits are not learned, see the "French Paradox", but some are controlled by the brain. Many seem to have better executive control on overall impulse control and calorie intake. They also seem to be more active through NEAT. See studies on twins and weight gain when fed a calorie surplus.
    3. There is some evidence for a gravistat. There might be "sensors", for the lack of a better term, in our long bones that help maintain a certain body weight. There have been studies on rats , and humans, that point to this. Rats were "loaded" with pellets inside their body and their TDEE's increase more than what would have been expected from added weight alone. They lost weight when this happened and didn't seem to have an increase in calorie intake that seems to happen when adipose is lost. They have done the same thing with humans and weighted vest with similar outcomes.

  • Speakeasy76
    Speakeasy76 Posts: 960 Member
    There is no question that our bodies (and minds) will work against us during and after weight loss -- but that doesn't mean it's hopeless.

    I'll start with the bad news:
    There are many studies that have shown that long term calorie restriction leads to a reduction in BMR (even when adjusted for new weight) and changes in leptin levels (increase in hunger) even after weight loss:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673773/
    The over 80% recidivism rate to pre-weight loss levels of body fatness after otherwise successful weight loss is due to the coordinate actions of metabolic, behavioral, neuroendocrine, and autonomic responses designed to maintain body energy stores (fat) at a CNS- defined “ideal”. This “adaptive thermogenesis” creates the ideal situation for weight regain and is operant in both lean and obese individuals attempting to sustain reduced body weights. Much of this opposition to sustained weight loss is mediated by the adipocyte-derived hormone “leptin”.

    The good news
    Having said all of that, while there are certainly people who's DNA might predispose them to being obese, many (most?) of us aren't in that category. Many (most?) of us can be successful by maintaining good habits and awareness.

    My anecdotal (sample size of one) experience is this:
    In 2011 I lost 40lbs+ of fat (gained several lbs of lean muscle) and was the most fit in my life at 45 with visible abs. I maintained this for 5+ years by continuing to track my exercise, food calories and weight. I never meticulously measured things out -- many meals were my "Guess recipe" where I would adjust the calories based on my experience. Even though I wasn't perfectly accurate in measurement, I believe the general awareness was key to my success over that 5 year period. This worked well until the point I decided that I no longer needed to track calories some time around 2016. Over the course of the next several years my weight gradually increased (about 5-10 lbs per year) and then accelerated once I got injured. Was that due to a set point ? I don't think so -- it was due to my lack of awareness and due to my exercise decreasing while my meals stayed the same.

    Now I'm back and I'm certainly not worried about a set point, my only concern is maintaining my awareness (what gets tracked gets improved). I'm back to working out again, tracking calories and I'm consistently losing 1.5 lbs per week since I started Dec 20th, 2020.

    Set point or no set point, I KNOW I AM in control of my success.

    Totally agree with this, and thank you for posting links to an article from a reputable source. Your journey and philosophy sounds a lot like mine.
  • breefoshee
    breefoshee Posts: 398 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    breefoshee wrote: »
    breefoshee wrote: »
    It also doesn't make sense on a cellular level. Your body does maintain a certain number of fat cells (adipocytes) throughout your adult life... so that is what this theory seems to be built on.

    But you don't keep the same cells forever and ever. Cells die and get replenished through cell division. I think the set point theory assumes that you are stuck at a certain size because the number of fat cells do not change much. So even if they are depleted of fat, they are overstretched and more inclined to be filled with fat.

    But if your body is always making new cells, then eventually those cells would be replaced with not-so-fat-filled smaller cells.

    Not sure why I got so many disagrees on this post. Is it because I said people maintain the same # of adipocytes throughout their life?

    I am currently taking Anatomy and Physiology and took this from my textbook. If there are other science-backed views that show otherwise, I'd be interested to see them.
    g29cjxwwo5zg.png

    I didn't click disagree, insofar as I remember. Yes, we know that cells, generically, die and are replaced.

    Do we we know that fat cells that die are not replaced, simply because the person has less stored fat? Sure, that's possible. Proven?

    Cells of a certain type don't normally die in mass numbers, all around the same time, in a healthy individual, it would seem to me - though I can't prove it. (If lots died all/many at once, wouldn't that cause functional health problems?) I suspect that the cell aging-apoptosis-replacement cycle in an area or cell type would be staggered, time-wise, though I don't actually know that.

    If fat cells are used to being over-stretched, and therefore are more inclined to refill, what is the mechanism that causes that? (I grant that hunger/appetite hormones seem like a potential answer, and I'm sure that there are other potential answers, but in implying that existing fat cells somehow "want" to be refilled in a way that new ones don't, you seem to be making unstated assumptions about mechanism. We know that statistically, people are likely to regain, but there's a lot of dispute in science about what the physical mechanisms are, what the psychological mechanisms are, what the role of various multi-effect hormones may be, what role habit and environment may have, and more.)

    If the fat cells are replaced when some die, and the cell death is fact staggered in time (<= assumptions in "If" form), what about the new cells would make them less likely to be filled, when the physical environment in the body (and eating behavior, to the extent physically induced) is an output of the totality of the cells, not that one or few new guys on the block? They're bathed in the same biochemicals as the older fat cells.

    If a fat-filled fat cell dies, where does the fat go? Is it just excreted/burned, or do the cell neighbors take over storing that fat increment? Is it divided during cell division, sort of farmed out to the kids like the wealth in an estate?

    I don't know the answers to those things, nor to many other potential questions that could be relevant. I have no relevant scientific expertise. I haven't even read your textbook (maybe that stuff is covered on page 171 😉). So, I'm pretty clear on what I don't know, in this scenario. I got nuthin'.

    Still, reasoning from "cells die" to "set point theory is unsound" seems to involve some assumptions and leaps. Frankly, I'm not even sure that scientific-expert set point hypothesis advocates (if there are any these days) base their belief entirely on the idea that the number of fat cells don't change much. Maybe. Dunno. They know more about it than I do, too. My point of view on the set point hypothesis comes entirely from the human-behavior side of things, where I also have limited expertise beyond a few psych/soc/etc. classes in college, a little pleasure reading, and 65 years of hanging around with diverse people while also being a person myself.

    I know more about MFP culture, though, I think. Unstated important assumptions or leaps tend to attract disagree-clicks, even outside the Debate section. Maybe slightly moreso outside the Debate section, even, because lots of people who hang out over there like to use their words when they debate, not just click? That last sentence is pure speculation, though.

    So the "set point theorist" that I know in real life have used the fact that people maintain the same number of fat cells throughout their life as an argument for that theory. So the argument goes, "Well, if you have this many cells no matter what, then some people's bodies must have a genetic predisposition to gain weight because of those cells." And paired with that I've heard that once you've stretched out these cells with fat, then even if you lose weight, those cells want to be filled.

    So I assumed that this was just the argument behind set point theory, and since I was just thinking and reading about this, that is where my mind went.

    The argument that I was trying to make was that while you do maintain a certain number of these cells, that doesn't actually matter. Because you can fill those with a lot of fat or a little fat. And since cells regenerate (whether quickly or slowly), those same cells aren't just sitting around, overstretched, waiting to get filled with fat. So it wasn't so much that they are less likely to be filled, just that the "overstretched" argument didn't seem to hold up.

    The reason I questioned the "disagrees" was because I was wondering if maybe people had misunderstood what I was trying to say (aka maybe, I explained what I was trying to say poorly). I was arguing against those two points that I had heard, and assumed that was the theory, but maybe that was a leap.

    And I thought maybe other people had some info on this that I just didn't see. I'm definitely wondering how cells divide with the fat and where it goes, now thanks to your questioning lol!
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,695 Member
    breefoshee wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    breefoshee wrote: »
    breefoshee wrote: »
    It also doesn't make sense on a cellular level. Your body does maintain a certain number of fat cells (adipocytes) throughout your adult life... so that is what this theory seems to be built on.

    But you don't keep the same cells forever and ever. Cells die and get replenished through cell division. I think the set point theory assumes that you are stuck at a certain size because the number of fat cells do not change much. So even if they are depleted of fat, they are overstretched and more inclined to be filled with fat.

    But if your body is always making new cells, then eventually those cells would be replaced with not-so-fat-filled smaller cells.

    Not sure why I got so many disagrees on this post. Is it because I said people maintain the same # of adipocytes throughout their life?

    I am currently taking Anatomy and Physiology and took this from my textbook. If there are other science-backed views that show otherwise, I'd be interested to see them.
    g29cjxwwo5zg.png

    I didn't click disagree, insofar as I remember. Yes, we know that cells, generically, die and are replaced.

    Do we we know that fat cells that die are not replaced, simply because the person has less stored fat? Sure, that's possible. Proven?

    Cells of a certain type don't normally die in mass numbers, all around the same time, in a healthy individual, it would seem to me - though I can't prove it. (If lots died all/many at once, wouldn't that cause functional health problems?) I suspect that the cell aging-apoptosis-replacement cycle in an area or cell type would be staggered, time-wise, though I don't actually know that.

    If fat cells are used to being over-stretched, and therefore are more inclined to refill, what is the mechanism that causes that? (I grant that hunger/appetite hormones seem like a potential answer, and I'm sure that there are other potential answers, but in implying that existing fat cells somehow "want" to be refilled in a way that new ones don't, you seem to be making unstated assumptions about mechanism. We know that statistically, people are likely to regain, but there's a lot of dispute in science about what the physical mechanisms are, what the psychological mechanisms are, what the role of various multi-effect hormones may be, what role habit and environment may have, and more.)

    If the fat cells are replaced when some die, and the cell death is fact staggered in time (<= assumptions in "If" form), what about the new cells would make them less likely to be filled, when the physical environment in the body (and eating behavior, to the extent physically induced) is an output of the totality of the cells, not that one or few new guys on the block? They're bathed in the same biochemicals as the older fat cells.

    If a fat-filled fat cell dies, where does the fat go? Is it just excreted/burned, or do the cell neighbors take over storing that fat increment? Is it divided during cell division, sort of farmed out to the kids like the wealth in an estate?

    I don't know the answers to those things, nor to many other potential questions that could be relevant. I have no relevant scientific expertise. I haven't even read your textbook (maybe that stuff is covered on page 171 😉). So, I'm pretty clear on what I don't know, in this scenario. I got nuthin'.

    Still, reasoning from "cells die" to "set point theory is unsound" seems to involve some assumptions and leaps. Frankly, I'm not even sure that scientific-expert set point hypothesis advocates (if there are any these days) base their belief entirely on the idea that the number of fat cells don't change much. Maybe. Dunno. They know more about it than I do, too. My point of view on the set point hypothesis comes entirely from the human-behavior side of things, where I also have limited expertise beyond a few psych/soc/etc. classes in college, a little pleasure reading, and 65 years of hanging around with diverse people while also being a person myself.

    I know more about MFP culture, though, I think. Unstated important assumptions or leaps tend to attract disagree-clicks, even outside the Debate section. Maybe slightly moreso outside the Debate section, even, because lots of people who hang out over there like to use their words when they debate, not just click? That last sentence is pure speculation, though.

    So the "set point theorist" that I know in real life have used the fact that people maintain the same number of fat cells throughout their life as an argument for that theory. So the argument goes, "Well, if you have this many cells no matter what, then some people's bodies must have a genetic predisposition to gain weight because of those cells." And paired with that I've heard that once you've stretched out these cells with fat, then even if you lose weight, those cells want to be filled.

    So I assumed that this was just the argument behind set point theory, and since I was just thinking and reading about this, that is where my mind went.

    The argument that I was trying to make was that while you do maintain a certain number of these cells, that doesn't actually matter. Because you can fill those with a lot of fat or a little fat. And since cells regenerate (whether quickly or slowly), those same cells aren't just sitting around, overstretched, waiting to get filled with fat. So it wasn't so much that they are less likely to be filled, just that the "overstretched" argument didn't seem to hold up.

    The reason I questioned the "disagrees" was because I was wondering if maybe people had misunderstood what I was trying to say (aka maybe, I explained what I was trying to say poorly). I was arguing against those two points that I had heard, and assumed that was the theory, but maybe that was a leap.

    And I thought maybe other people had some info on this that I just didn't see. I'm definitely wondering how cells divide with the fat and where it goes, now thanks to your questioning lol!
    You CAN GAIN fat cells if your weight continually increases well beyond what it should be.

    "Excess calories are stored throughout your body as fat. Your body stores this fat within specialized fat cells (adipose tissue) — either by enlarging fat cells, which are always present in the body, or by creating more of them. If you decrease your food intake and consume fewer calories than you burn up, or if you exercise more and burn up more calories, your body will reduce some of your fat stores. When this happens, fat cells shrink, along with your waistline."
    https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-people-become-overweight#:~:text=If you consume more energy,by creating more of them.




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  • corinasue1143
    corinasue1143 Posts: 7,459 Member
    The doctor who did my physical last year (not my normal one) made the comment of ' well, we all have a happy weight that our bodies like to be at'

    I told my regular doctor (same practice, mind you) and he rolled his eyes.

    I agree with my regular doctor.

    I was going to mention something like this. My dad, brother and sister all had a “happy weight”. They all stuck very close to
    That weight. Their bodies didn’t do it, THEY did it. But they didn’t need a scale. They just “knew” when they were spot on, over or under. They ate more or less for a few days to control it. —for as long as I can remember.
    I grew up thinking that was “set point”.
  • Finafoshizzle93
    Finafoshizzle93 Posts: 157 Member
    In the context of ED recovery, I think the idea of set point often refers to a healthy weight that you can maintain without restricting or obsessing. It’s a weight focused on being healthy & fit but you are still able to live a “normal” life with some indulgences.

    There’s also some research out there about when you’re gaining weight in the ED recovery process, sometimes doctors set the goal weight too low for the brain and body to heal which leads to higher rates of relapse.

    I think set point weights are real in the sense that—within the healthy weight range—some people are naturally slimmer (can maintain while eating “normally” I.e it’s ok to have cake or eat out) while some are naturally on the upper end of the healthy weight range.
  • skinnyjingbb
    skinnyjingbb Posts: 127 Member
    Set point isn't permanent, but changes take long time. like for example, you have been around 150-160lbs for last 10 years, and you goes down to 120lbs in a year, your body's set point might stay at 150 for a while so the first few years of maintenance is hard, and for many people, weight rebound when they stop tracking. However for people who are able to maintain 120lbs for few years, their body set point will eventually reset to 120, and maintenance became easier overtime. If you have been 120 for most your life but only recently gained weight to to 160, it will be easier to go back to 120 and maintain.
  • Muscleflex79
    Muscleflex79 Posts: 1,919 Member
    Set point isn't permanent, but changes take long time. like for example, you have been around 150-160lbs for last 10 years, and you goes down to 120lbs in a year, your body's set point might stay at 150 for a while so the first few years of maintenance is hard, and for many people, weight rebound when they stop tracking. However for people who are able to maintain 120lbs for few years, their body set point will eventually reset to 120, and maintenance became easier overtime. If you have been 120 for most your life but only recently gained weight to to 160, it will be easier to go back to 120 and maintain.

    this is complete BS. the key point you said there was "when they stop tracking" - so you are saying if someone stops tracking, but continues to eat the same over time their weight changes because of "set point"??
  • psychod787
    psychod787 Posts: 4,088 Member
    ninerbuff wrote: »
    Set point isn't permanent, but changes take long time. like for example, you have been around 150-160lbs for last 10 years, and you goes down to 120lbs in a year, your body's set point might stay at 150 for a while so the first few years of maintenance is hard, and for many people, weight rebound when they stop tracking. However for people who are able to maintain 120lbs for few years, their body set point will eventually reset to 120, and maintenance became easier overtime. If you have been 120 for most your life but only recently gained weight to to 160, it will be easier to go back to 120 and maintain.
    If you stop tracking and gain it's because you ate more than you needed to. Maintenance is nothing more than eating your TDEE. If you gain 30lbs, than means you consumed 105,000 calories over TDEE. That has NOTHING to do with setpoint, it has to do with overconsumption.
    How do you gain 30lbs eating at maintenance?


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    Actually, that's a very simplistic way of looking at this. They would probably have to eat far more than 105000 extra calories to gain weight. Now , 30lbs of fat may represent 105000 calories of stored energy, the body ramps up metabolism to help keep someone stable in most cases. Then we have to add in increased body weight to maintenance calories.
  • psychod787
    psychod787 Posts: 4,088 Member
    edited February 2021
    Set point isn't permanent, but changes take long time. like for example, you have been around 150-160lbs for last 10 years, and you goes down to 120lbs in a year, your body's set point might stay at 150 for a while so the first few years of maintenance is hard, and for many people, weight rebound when they stop tracking. However for people who are able to maintain 120lbs for few years, their body set point will eventually reset to 120, and maintenance became easier overtime. If you have been 120 for most your life but only recently gained weight to to 160, it will be easier to go back to 120 and maintain.

    this is complete BS. the key point you said there was "when they stop tracking" - so you are saying if someone stops tracking, but continues to eat the same over time their weight changes because of "set point"??

    No, but people dont eat the same when they stop being recognized of calories. People like to think the human body is like a single dude playing the trumpet, but its more like a *kitten* orchestra. The brain is the conductor and is telling the body what to do. There is evidence that the brain ramps up hunger in response to weight loss not just in animals, but humans as well.

    **edit** there is also evidence that hunger hormones start to revert back to baseline after a year of weight loss maintenance. Might be one of several reasons weight loss maintenance becomes easier after a year or more.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,695 Member
    If setpoint theory really existed, then people wouldn't be able to get down to low digit body fat percentages and stay there years at a time.
    I usually find that people that lose weight then regain it is because they STOPPED doing the things they needed to to keep the weight off. Going back to bad eating habits, stop logging/counting, stop daily physical activity, etc.

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  • ahoy_m8
    ahoy_m8 Posts: 2,893 Member
    It's been said a bunch so this isn't an original comment: If I go back to old habits I'll go back to my old weight. Nothing to do with my brain somehow orchestrating a coordinated effort to maintain a specific BF%, and certainly not about storing fat without a caloric surplus.

    Have hope! I'm not minimizing how much effort it takes to change habits, but it is totally possible. It just takes patience & persistence.

    Honestly, "set point theory" has been around several decades, which is more than enough time to find evidence to support it if there were any. It's past time to let this one go. More productive to invest energy on "atomic habits" or something similar.
  • sollyn23l2
    sollyn23l2 Posts: 299 Member
    ahoy_m8 wrote: »
    It's been said a bunch so this isn't an original comment: If I go back to old habits I'll go back to my old weight. Nothing to do with my brain somehow orchestrating a coordinated effort to maintain a specific BF%, and certainly not about storing fat without a caloric surplus.

    Have hope! I'm not minimizing how much effort it takes to change habits, but it is totally possible. It just takes patience & persistence.

    Honestly, "set point theory" has been around several decades, which is more than enough time to find evidence to support it if there were any. It's past time to let this one go. More productive to invest energy on "atomic habits" or something similar.

    While you're absolutely right that you will only gain weight in a caloric surplus, you're brain does actually have a variety of very real mechanisms to maintain a certain body fat percentage- for example, it will cause you to fidget less, be more still, sleep more, increase grehlin so you get hungrier, lower body temperature and slow heart rate. It can also do the opposite when it wants to.

    Set point basically is your body trying to maintain homeostasis- your body doesn't like change.
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,634 Member
    sollyn23l2 wrote: »
    ahoy_m8 wrote: »
    It's been said a bunch so this isn't an original comment: If I go back to old habits I'll go back to my old weight. Nothing to do with my brain somehow orchestrating a coordinated effort to maintain a specific BF%, and certainly not about storing fat without a caloric surplus.

    Have hope! I'm not minimizing how much effort it takes to change habits, but it is totally possible. It just takes patience & persistence.

    Honestly, "set point theory" has been around several decades, which is more than enough time to find evidence to support it if there were any. It's past time to let this one go. More productive to invest energy on "atomic habits" or something similar.

    While you're absolutely right that you will only gain weight in a caloric surplus, you're brain does actually have a variety of very real mechanisms to maintain a certain body fat percentage- for example, it will cause you to fidget less, be more still, sleep more, increase grehlin so you get hungrier, lower body temperature and slow heart rate. It can also do the opposite when it wants to.

    Set point basically is your body trying to maintain homeostasis- your body doesn't like change.

    My body is incredibly grateful I lost 80 pounds.

    My brain has a liar living within. I've learned to (mostly) not listen to it. :wink:
  • sollyn23l2
    sollyn23l2 Posts: 299 Member
    sollyn23l2 wrote: »
    ahoy_m8 wrote: »
    It's been said a bunch so this isn't an original comment: If I go back to old habits I'll go back to my old weight. Nothing to do with my brain somehow orchestrating a coordinated effort to maintain a specific BF%, and certainly not about storing fat without a caloric surplus.

    Have hope! I'm not minimizing how much effort it takes to change habits, but it is totally possible. It just takes patience & persistence.

    Honestly, "set point theory" has been around several decades, which is more than enough time to find evidence to support it if there were any. It's past time to let this one go. More productive to invest energy on "atomic habits" or something similar.

    While you're absolutely right that you will only gain weight in a caloric surplus, you're brain does actually have a variety of very real mechanisms to maintain a certain body fat percentage- for example, it will cause you to fidget less, be more still, sleep more, increase grehlin so you get hungrier, lower body temperature and slow heart rate. It can also do the opposite when it wants to.

    Set point basically is your body trying to maintain homeostasis- your body doesn't like change.

    My body is incredibly grateful I lost 80 pounds.

    My brain has a liar living within. I've learned to (mostly) not listen to it. :wink:

    I'm sure your body is healthier now that you've lost 80 pounds, absolutely. I'm not saying people shouldn't or can't lose weight. That your brain will fight against it, however, is just the mechanics of it.
  • hesn92
    hesn92 Posts: 5,971 Member
    No, I don't believe in the set point theory. If that were true, how would you explain why obesity is more common in certain parts of the world? I think it has a lot more to do with lifestyle and what/how we eat. I think we all have a "happy" weight, meaning the weight we can reasonably maintain while still living a life that is enjoyable (eating foods that you like, going out to eat occasionally, eat dessert etc etc whatever is important to you)
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,616 Member
    For what it's worth the last time I posted here I was about 40lbs heavier than I am now. I've now been maintaining for months and honestly? It hasn't been terribly hard. I took loss slow and changed things just a little at a time. At this point it's just life and my life and habits in it keep my eating/activity in check to maintain about 125lbs.