Every person, male or female, has a “set point” weight, and just as we do not have control over our eye color, hair color, or height, we have no control over our set point. Anyone attempting to lose weight and those suffering from eating disorders need to know about the metabolic system. The metabolic setpoint or thermostat is the weight range in which your body is accustomed and programmed to function at its best. The body will fight to maintain this predetermined weight when restricting food intake.

The Set-Point Theory better explains how the body controls weight and how weight loss surgery works. This theory suggests that our bodies have a point of equilibrium that is comfortable to operate around. Bariatric surgery procedures like gastric sleeve and RNY bypass are the only long-term solution to obesity.
How Does Your Brain Control Your Weight

What is Set Point Theory?

The setpoint theory was first developed in 1982 by Gurin and Bennett to explain why repeat dieting from patients failed to produce long-lasting effects on their shape and overall weight. The theory asserts that the body adapts to the level at which weight scale and body fat content are maintained.

 The set point theory believes that regulatory mechanisms in a person’s body will fight to sustain the genetically preferred weight and is sensitive to any caloric changes when dieting and exercise.

Anyone who has ever tried dieting will know how hard it is to lose weight continuously. 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 changes to baseline weight range. Some people have a high set value, and some are flat; some have small, medium, and larger frames (big-boned).

Metabolic thermostat

set point theory, From: Ethicon

From: Ethicon

Metabolic Thermostat or Body Thermostat refers to how metabolism and appetite adjust to weight changes.

The body recognizes the increased fat level and elevated weight as an ideal and makes it its new setpoint to operate around. Even modest diet restriction to lose weight makes us think we are going through starvation.

When you go on a diet,

  • The metabolism will slow down to conserve energy. The body will sense a semi-starvation state and attempt to use a few calories it receives effectively.
  • 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.

How is your Set Point determined?

A part of the brain, the hypothalamus, plays a significant role in the body’s energy intake/expenditure and, ultimately, our weight management, like our blood pressure. A signal sent from the intestine to your brain adjusts appetite and metabolism.

The gut-brain connection regulates appetite, hunger, and energy balance – also referred to as the body’s neurohormonal axis.

To maintain the particular weight range our body is used to, the hypothalamus adjusts our metabolism and appetite – increases hunger & cravings, and reduces satiety & metabolism (Starvation Mode). If you gain weight, the total metabolic rate increases and the body’s temperature rises to help burn off any unwanted calories.
Set Point Theory - Metabolism and Hunger Chart
Set Point Examles with Bariatric Surgery Patients and Weight Loss

Why does set point theory cause diets to fail?

Anyone who has ever tried dieting will know how hard it is to lose weight continuously. This is why! Known as weight loss plateaus, this is typically a sign that the body attempts to fight to retain its weight.

For dieters, it’s essential to accept 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.

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.
Why Diets and Exercise Fail

How do I change my body’s SetPoint?

An energy imbalance causes obesity and excessive fat deposition in individuals. Ultimately, your body weight regulation is influenced by genetic makeup, behavioral patterns, as well as environmental, developmental, physiological, social, and cultural factors.

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

Bodyweight setting varies for each person and is mainly affected by:

  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Environmental Factors
  • Developmental History

Our body defends itself against deviations from our natural weight. That is why diet, exercise, and diet pills are not a permanent solution, as they do not change our body’s fat setpoint.

Because of these physiological characteristics, obesity doesn’t have to be cyclical with yo-yo diets. Bariatric surgery can break this vicious cycle and change your set point forever!
Brain Thermostat to Determine Weight Loss

Weight Loss Surgery Shifts Body’s Set-Point

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

Bariatric surgery calibrates your body’s set point for durable and sustainable weight loss to give you a second chance in life!

Until recently, it was assumed that the restriction produced by weight loss surgery procedures, including gastric bypass, vertical sleeve gastrectomy, and lap-band, is responsible for mechanically restricting the amount of food a patient can eat.

Bariatric Surgery Changes Your Body Weight Set Point

A more logical explanation of the mechanism of weight loss surgery is “physiologic.” In bariatric surgery, the individual’s set point and, as a result, the internal body processes that control hunger and metabolic rate change – decreasing hunger & cravings and increasing satiety & metabolism (Overfed Mode).


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