Set Point Theory, The Secret Behind Your Weight

why it is hard to change your weight
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Hey, tough soul. I’m Alyssa.

When it comes to fitness, there are always some goals we wish to achieve. Be it the desire to change your weight, trying to gain more muscle, lose body fat, or improve your physique and so on. This raises a question. Why most of the time we found it hard to change our weight?

Then you should definitely know about the set point theory.

I’ll reveal the secret behind your weight. And of course, give you some tips on what to do if you wish to be the master of your set point. Keep reading to find out!

Set Point — Your Body’s Comfort Zone

Many things in our body have a set point. It looks like a set of data that save in your genetics, and there is a system that is constantly checking their properties, trying to maintain the data in a similar range over time.

It works closely with our homeostasis system that regulates our nervous system, metabolism, organ function, body temperature etc. When there is something odd in that data, your body will always try to adjust based on the changes.

If this concept is too vague for you, think of it this way. Everyone has their comfort zone. Sometimes your comfort zone will help you eliminate anxiety about things you are most confident about. But sometimes also make you reluctant to change.

Everyone has their comfort zone

Your body also has its comfort zone. And that’s the set point.

Your set point is like the comfort state your body currently recognized (not you, but your body). Different from the human mind, it did not know what is the ‘ideal’ standard (it doesn’t care your goal weight, or better appearance). What it wants is to stay in that comfort zone and regulate your body day by day, because that is the most efficient.

Set point and your weight

Your body works like a thermostat device that is able to detect what’s happening outside, and it makes changes internally. When you occasionally overeat, your body will try its best to balance out your excess calories by increasing your metabolism, to make you gain weight as little as possible. When you undereat, it will lower your metabolism to avoid you from losing too much weight.

Your set point makes sure your weight stays in a similar range if you did not experience a huge change in your lifestyle. This can be a double edge sword. The good is you can avoid the probability of gaining too much weight as possible. However, this setting also makes it harder when you trying to make changes to your weight.

How Does Set Point Make us Fail in Dieting?

Same as the weight, your set point also monitors your diet.

Everyone has a comfortable range of how much they eat in a day. This explains why intuitive eating can actually help us avoid overeating and maintain a better eating habit. However, you’ll be likely to experience some ‘discomfort’ when you suddenly change your diet.

Both your weight and diet work together. Most people found they regain their weight even more after dieting because their body is trying to defeat the momentum. However, often time it ended up going to a higher set point and that’s the moment you really screw up.

How does dieting affect our set point weight?

The graph above is what a typical ‘weight regain’ looks like. Notice that there are some tiny fluctuations before every dieting phase is introduced. And ironically these are the days they are able to maintain their weight pretty well. However, once every time they introduce a new dieting phase that makes their weight dropped drastically. The results is often the opposite –regain the weight and even go higher than that.

Here is what happens when you’re trying to go outside of the range (for example, wanting to drop a lot of weight fast). You’ll probably be able to lose weight really fast in the beginning. However, when it surpasses the range that your body recognized, it gets shocked.

Your body won’t know that is your intention to lose weight, their job is just to maintain that ‘standard’ in any available way. And it will try its best to do anything to get back to your set point weight. It will either makes you hungrier so that you can eat more. Or try to hold on more fat as possible next time when you eat.

It’s like a bouncing ball that reacts with external force, the more force you applied to it, the higher it goes.

You Can Change Your Set Point

From the theory above, we got the lesson. If you want to really change your weight or anything, your set point needs to recognized first. As I say, once the set point recognized that set of data. Maintaining it will be much easier and your body also will help you do a lot of work to stay at it.

Now you might say:

Seems wonderful, but currently I’m not at the set point that I want. Can I change my set point, in a healthy way?

Yes, you can definitely change your set point. As I say, your set point will change throughout your life, and it can be adjusted.

Here are a few important keys to change your set point weight:

Makes Thing Gradually

Everytime when you desire for changes and are willing to work on it, that’s a good thing. However, remember that your set point is most sensitive to dramatic change. Therefore you need to make sure you introduce every new plan or diet slowly.

Your weight loss should be in a steady state, those propaganda that claimed someone lost 10 pounds in a week is unrealistic. A steady decrease in body weight over time could make your body register a lower weight range slowly.

Here’s a strategy when you trying to change your weight — aim small, maintain, then go further. Split your goal weight into small intervals, and stay at every stage to give your body more time to register the set point, once your weight is stable (this is now your new set point), proceed to another one and repeat.

Real-life example:

If we put two-person with different weights together (let’s say one is 150lb and another is 170lb) to consume 1700kcal per day that is both deficits for them.

Obviously, the person with 150lb would find it’s more easily to maintain their weight loss progress compared with the 170lb person. The reason is that 1700kcal is a closer amount for a 150lb person compared with 170lb.

Interestingly, this does not only apply to those that are trying to lose weight, but those that trying to weight gain too. In fact, it will be hard (hard, not impossible) for someone lighter to suddenly add weight because they’ll probably end up losing the weight again.

Make a Change From Your Lifestyle

Apart from genetics, our set point is actually determined by habits, environment and lifestyle. That’s why sometimes we notice that one family will have a similar body type. It might be genetics that is working, however, most of the time also because the individuals that live together tend to share similar traits over their members.

Sometimes we gain some extra weight unconsciously is because our lifestyle sucks. We eat out, sleep late at night, or choose vehicles even if the grocery is just one street apart from our house, all of these could actually add up to be a huge reason why your weight is higher.

That said, by making a shift in the way you live, you could actually change your set point indirectly toward the number that you desire. Stay active in your daily life, you’ll body will recognize a healthier state and help you improve your overall fitness.

Change the way you think

People get fat because they think they are fat.

The way we perceive ourselves would actually lead us to be the version that we believe. Both internally and externally, it changes the habits we have and all the traits that we possess. These would eventually manifest in your physique.

Our thinking also changes how our body functions. When you think that you are ‘overweight’ your body accepts the fact that you are thinking and keeps that weight that is ‘overweight’. That is the reason why someone just can’t get rid of that weight that they are always unsatisfied with.

In contrast, lean people would often think they are less likely to gain weight, therefore they did not get panicked when they overeat. They did not skip their meals because of guilt, and thus did not end up in yoyo-dieting.

Start thinking and accepting your body is lean enough, live the way a lean person lives. Don’t indulge in eating and pay attention to something else, a small change of mindset would make a huge difference.

Final Thought

That’s all for this post. I hope this explains to you why you facing difficulties when trying to control your weight, and how you can make healthy and sustainable change.

For some that have been horrified with the bouncing back of their weight, knowing how the set point theory works actually help a lot. Remember that your body is always trying to do the best for you, but you need to give it enough patience and persistence. When you start to pay attention and give accreditation to your own body. It will start to work together towards your goal.

Let us grow together,


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