Weight Set Points: Why is it important to know?

Weight Set Points: Why is it important to know?

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If you are a “Yo -Yo” dieter, who have been on multiple diets just to lose the weight and when you feel like you are free to eat a regular meal, you find yourself gaining weight back, not only do you gain some weight, but your weight returns to, or close to the weight you have lost, read on this article is for you. 

What is a weight Set point?

The body’s weight set point is that number on the scale that your weight normally lingers around, give, or take a few pounds. Genetic and environmental factors determine our set point, but over the years excessive high fat, high calorie foods, and lack of physical activity override our bodies natural tendency to stay at its natural healthy set point, and eventually lead to a higher unhealthy set point. 

Over a long period of time, 5, 10, or even a 20-year period a gradual weight gain of 20 pounds or more will trick your body into thinking that your set point should be higher, and when this happens the natural set point will reset to that unhealthy weight making it difficult to maintain a weight loss. 

The good news is just as it is possible to reset your set point to a higher weight, it is also possible to lower your body’s set point. The secret is to work with your body instead of against your body’s natural tendency to lose weight slowly, 5 – 10% at a time. 

The 10% rule to resetting your body’s set point

The CDC recommends losing no more than 10% of your body weight at a time, or 1 – 2 pounds per week, unless you are under the supervision of a doctor. That is the amount you can safely lose without your body fighting back. Many people lose more than 10% of their body weight at a time but only few can maintain the loss. 

To reset your body’s weight set point, it is imperative that you maintain the loss for a minimum of 6 months to 1 year, of course you can repeat the cycle and reset the set point again by losing an additional 10% if needed, or until you reach your goal weight, but the key to your body recognizing and maintaining this new set point is by making small gradual changes in your daily habits, diet, and lifestyle that eventually becomes second nature to you, and by doing this you outsmart your body’s natural tendency to regain weight. 

The weight loss phase can last from 12 weeks to 6 months depending on the amount of weight you need to lose, then maintain that loss for 6 months. You can definitely repeat the cycle and remain in the weight loss phase for longer or until you are at your individualized goal weight. However, to reset your body’s weight set point you must maintain that weight for 6 months to 1 year, during this period your body starts to recognize the new weight as its safe place, and weight loss or weight gain will become difficult for the new weight. 

In Conclusion

Individuals who have been on the diet rollercoaster with gains and losses over the years like me have hope, the bottom line is that we do not have to live with obesity when we have the power to change our situation. Losing weight is not for the faint of heart, it is a task that takes a decision to change, action, and discipline to continue on the course to success. Assess yourself, why do you want to lose weight? Then speak with a health care practitioner to help you with the support and resources you need to make the necessary changes to reset your weight set point and live the rest of your life free from obesity. 


Losing Weight | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity | CDC

Müller MJ, Bosy-Westphal A, Heymsfield SB. Is there evidence for a set point that regulates human body weight? F1000 Med Rep. 2010 Aug 9;2:59. doi: 10.3410/M2-59. PMID: 21173874; PMCID: PMC2990627.

Week One: The Science of Set Point | BIDMC of Boston