Definition of Set Point Theory

set point theory, woman thinking

Set Point Theory is defined as a range of weight the body has to perform the best. When trying to lose weight, the body will fight to maintain the particular weight range.

Those seeking to lose weight as well as those suffering from eating disorders may have trouble understanding the set point theory. Ultimately the set point is the weight range in which your particular body is programmed to function at its best.

The set point theory believes that a person’s body will fight to maintain that particular weight range. Every person, male or female, has a set point, and just as we do not have control over our eye color, hair color or height, we have no control over our set point.

How Does Your Brain Control Your Weight

Set Point – How Does Your Brain Control Your Weight?

The body itself is genetically determined to maintain a certain weight range. The set point theory was first developed in 1982 by Gurin and Bennett to explain why to repeat dieting from patients was unsuccessful in producing long-term weight changes in a patient’s shape and overall weight.

Set points vary for each person. Scientists believe that the average person has a set point range of about ten to twenty pounds, meaning that there is a range at which the body is comfortable and will resist attempts to change that weight.

Anyone who has ever tried dieting will know how hard it is to lose weight continuously. This is why! Known as plateaus, this is typically a sign that the body is attempting to fight to retain the weight it is. Some people have a high setting and some flat, that’s why some people have a small frame, medium and larger frame (big-boned).

Brain Thermostat to Determine Weight Loss

Set Point Brain Thermostat – How Metabolism & Appetite Adjust to Weight Changes

When you go below your body’s particular set point, both your metabolism and appetite adjust to try to return you to that set point. The metabolism will slow down to conserve energy. The body will start to sense a semi-starvation state and will attempt to use few calories it receives effectively.

set point theory, From: Ethicon

From: Ethicon

The body may require more sleep; the body temperature will drop, and many women will lose their menstrual cycle. This typically occurs when a woman’s weight becomes too low. Her entire reproductive system will shut down because her body cannot handle a pregnancy safely.

Ultimately when body fat is lost, the appetite of the person losing weight will increase. Many individuals who diet will also experience the urge to binge eat. This is because the body is asking for more food that is being provided to function well.

Just as the metabolism is slowed when you lose weight goes below your set point, metabolism will increase if you gain weight above your set point.

The body will continue trying to fight against weight-gain by increasing the total metabolic rate and raising the temperature of the body to help burn off any unwanted calories. The set point theory can be both good and bad for dieters.

Why Diets Fail So Often…

There is no test to help determine what your body’s natural set point (set weight) is. However, finding a set point for those who have dieted for an extended period of time may not be difficult.

For dieters, it’s important to accept the fact that the body needs to be at a particular weight to stop the dieting cycle. The more that someone tries to go below this set point weight range (it may be -5 lbs, -10 lbs, or maybe even -20 lbs), the harder the body will fight to retain its natural weight.

Why Diets and Exercise Fail

Ultimately, your individual body is a result of three factors: individual genetic makeup, behavioral and environmental factors.  Because of the physiological factors, obesity doesn’t have to be cyclical.

A recent study by The New England Journal of Medicine, by the 95% of obese people who lose weight with a rigorous weight-loss program will regain the weight (or more) within two to five years.

(Click here to view a shocking article about weight gain in Biggest Loser contestants after leaving the show)

Weight Loss Surgery Changes Genetic Set Point

See If You Qualify for Weight Loss Surgery - Mexico Bariatric Center

Based on the Metabolic Set Point Theory of Homeostasis, the body has a tendency to maintain a particular weight range, and it adjusts the complex regulatory network accordingly. If your weight changes, the metabolism speeds up or slows down to compensate for that.

Bariatric surgery, known as weight loss surgery, offers the most effective procedures for long-term treatment of obesity, whereas non-surgical dietary weight loss options are not long-term.

Until recently, it was assumed that the restriction produced by weight loss surgery (Gastric Bypass, Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, and Lap-Band) is responsible for mechanically restricting the amount of food a patient can eat.

More recent explanation of the mechanism by which weight loss surgery works is “physiologic.” In bariatric surgery, the body accepts a lower weight as its “set-point.” It adjusts the internal body processes that control hunger and metabolic rate.

Basically, bariatric surgery changes the body’s set point by shifting your neuro-hormonal axis to a lower weight and give you a second chance to maintain this “new set point”.

Learn more about undergoing weight loss surgery by visiting these popular bariatric procedures: Gastric Sleeve Surgery or Gastric Bypass Surgery.

Mexico Bariatric Center