Change your weight setpoint

In general, you wonder why your body weight, no matter how often you diet or how much exercise you do, somehow creeps back to where it was before you started! Your “set point” weight could be to blame. Research suggests that under certain circumstances, no matter how much diet or exercise you do, the body will eventually find its way back to where it was supposed to be. Would you like to learn more about the weight setpoint and how to finally break it? Read on to find out more!

What is a weight set point?

A weight set point is considered to be the natural weight that your body will stay at with little effort. If you’ve tried shedding a few pounds or dieting for show, you’ve probably noticed that at some point after you’ve achieved your weight loss goal, it becomes very difficult to get your new weight and, over time, your weight The weight is slowly creeping back to the number you started at.

Can you change your target weight?

Yes, it is possible to change your weight setpoint if you adopt a healthy and healthy lifestyle forever. The reason many people recover is because they use diets or exercise programs that are not sustainable in the long run. If you’ve ever tried dieting or exercising for a fitness contest, you know that to achieve a certain percentage of body fat and maintain a certain amount of muscle mass, you need to use a restrictive diet and a high amount of exercise, usually not keeping up .

Although your metabolism can increase during this type of restrictiveness, your metabolism eventually slows down to save fuel. Constant withdrawal can do the opposite – your body will slow down and hold onto its energy instead of burning it up for fear of hunger. Even if you’re not on such a restrictive diet, extremely low-calorie diets or diets can do the same. This leads to a yo-yo diet effect, which can increase the target value of your body weight rather than lower.

What does the research say?

Research suggests that the body has a “set point” that is determined in part by an individual’s unique genetics and metabolism. This “set point” is also a product of the environment or behavior that a person follows, including diet and exercise. The “set point” theory suggests that the body has a feedback control system to constantly regulate body weight. The theory suggests that food intake or energy consumption can be adjusted as needed in proportion to the difference between the current body weight and the target value.

In the well-known Minnesota Hunger Study, subjects lost 66% of their fat mass in response to a 50% decrease in energy intake and gained 145% of their pre-hunger fat mass values ​​during the post-feeding diet, which allowed subjects to eat as much as they wanted. This fluctuation in body weight was the result of prolonged malnutrition followed by a diet where anything goes.

After one year, the subjects’ weight was found to return within 5% of their initial starting values. It was found that after starvation, the body compensated for the loss of appetite control, but eventually the appetite decreased and the metabolic system returned to its set point.

How does the weight setpoint work?

The results of the Minnesota study suggest that the body’s ability to regain fat is regulated by a feedback system that signals weight loss and weight gain based on the amount of body fat and muscle mass. In essence, the body is like a thermostat trying to regulate its comfortable weight set point by using either more or less energy.

When the body is healthy and normally lean, certain metabolic and fat burning processes are turned on and off to balance energy levels. This helps ensure that the metabolism is burning through fat and not always storing it. In essence, energy consumption in the resting state increases along with thermogenesis. The body’s own fat-burning hormones adiponectin, glucagon and norepinephrine help to unlock stored fat and burn it as fuel. When these hormones are turned on, hormones that regulate growth such as insulin or those that block fat burning such as cortisol are turned off.

As a result, the body’s energy expenditure and thermogenesis at rest are the result of the interaction of numerous systems and hormones, including the adrenal hormones, thyroid hormones, hunger hormones (leptin and ghrelin), sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) and the shuttle hormone insulin. All of these systems regulate certain functions in the body based on what you eat, how much you eat, and how much activity you do.

How do muscles and movement affect metabolic setpoint?

It is known that muscles are metabolic. In fact, the metabolic rate per pound of muscle is almost three times that of fat! However, having more muscle on your body does not necessarily mean that you have a lower body weight setpoint or that you are getting lower. For one thing, muscle weighs more than fat, which means that you are changing your body composition to get leaner. it doesn’t mean your weight will be lower!

One of the main benefits of having more muscle to help your body stay leaner seems to be lifting weights, especially during the post-workout period. During this time, not only does your metabolism go up, it can stay elevated for up to 48 hours after your workout, increasing your resting energy expenditure or your REE. This happens because the body needs to repair itself and this requires energy. The process of exercising also burns a ton of calories, which increases your energy deficit. Keeping your body in a deficit can bring your weight down. The trick is to find the right balance of foods that will promote regeneration and help maintain muscles while keeping body fat down.

How can the weight setpoint cycle be interrupted?

There is evidence that the biological control of our weight setpoint is a complex interaction of hormones and feedback pathways that can be influenced and adjusted based on what you eat and how much you exercise. If you exercise regularly and eat healthily, your energy levels will stay balanced and your weight set point will be maintained. If you are trying to lower your weight setpoint by going to extremes, eating too few calories, and exercising too much, the body may react negatively due to unsustainability.

If you’ve made up your mind to compete or challenge yourself to achieve extremely low body fat with a low-calorie diet that spends a lot of time in the gym, remember: once you have reached your goal, stop the diet and While doing this activity, there is a risk of post starvation hyperphagia (i.e., overeating), as well as a slowdown in metabolism, causing a rebound effect.

If you decide to compete or take some extreme measures to reduce your body fat, try a reverse diet approach, which slowly restores calories to your diet, which can result in less weight gain and an optimized metabolism.

Sustainable habits for long-term balance

The best way to maintain or improve your body’s set point is to follow a sustainable diet that provides the right amount of calories and gives you the right macronutrients for your specific activity level. Ideally, you want to boost your metabolism and keep blood sugar in balance by following a diet high in nutrient-dense, healthy natural foods, including lean protein, energizing carbohydrates that are low in sugar and starch, and healthy fats.

Excessive exercise and highly restrictive diets are never the answer. Instead, establish sustainable habits to ensure weight maintenance, better health, less body fat, and a leaner body in the long run!


Dulloo AG, Jacquet J., Girardier L. Post-starvation hyperphagia and excess body fat in humans: a role in feedback signals from lean and adipose tissue. At J Clin Nutr. 1997. 65: 717-23.
Muller MJ et al. Are there any indications of a target value that regulates human body weight? F1000 Med Rep. 2010. 2:59.
Dulloo AG, Jacquet J., Girardier L. Post-starvation hyperphagia and excess body fat in humans: a role in feedback signals from lean and adipose tissue. At J Clin Nutr. 1997. 65: 717-23.
Van Etten, LM et al. Effect of an 18-week strength training program on energy expenditure and physical activity. J Appl Physiol. 1997. 82: 298- 304
Wajchenberg, BL. Subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue: their relationship to metabolic syndrome. Endo Rev. 2000. 21: 697- 738

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