Weight Set Point - What Is It?

Weight Set Point - What Is It?
Understanding your weight set point is critical in maintaining a healthy weight. Just what is your weight set point? How do you figure out what the number is?

Your Weight Set Point is in essence the weight where your body feels you are healthy. Go below this weight and your body worries you are sick. It urges you to eat, to get back to being healthy again. This is fine, of course, if you really did get sick and need to be healthy again. However, if you're overweight and trying to lose weight, this cycle can cause you to keep regaining what you've lost.

Fat Cell Your Weight Set Point
We are all born as tiny humans with fat cells in our body. Our body doesn't want us to stay that tiny size forever, of course! It is fine with us gaining weight as we grow. Our body considers that normal and natural. So how does our body know when to "settle" the weight set point at a final number?

Let's say I am a 5'7" woman who reaches age 21 at a weight of 130. I then stay at that weight for a few years. My body settles into that weight. It finds this is a good balance for me. If I get the flu, and lose ten pounds, my body gently encourages me to regain my strength and get back to 130. Then it settles again. That is what my body has determined is my weight set point.

Now let's say I am a 5'7" woman whose family loves to eat piles of pasta every night. I am raised to eat this way from a young age, and all throughout my life I am obese as a result. When I reach age 21 I am 300 pounds. I stay at that weight for a few years. Just like in the previous example, my body settles into this weight. It figures this is the proper weight for me as an adult in the environment I'm in. If I now lose ten pounds, my body is worried I'm sick. It pushes to encourage me to get back to my proper "healthy weight."

Studies of people in controlled hospital environments, where every nutrition intake is closely monitored, and all exercise is tracked, find this to be true. The body's metabolism actually slows down when an adult drops beneath their set point. The body wants to make sure the person can more easily gain the weight back again to get back to the "proper healthy state." The body thinks it's being helpful.

Of course, dieters know it is not :).

There's no at-home test for determining a person's weight set point, but most of us know it intuitively. It's the weight we tend to hover at when we're not making efforts to change. If we eat moderately, and exercise moderately, it's where our body tends to be.

So the question is, then, how to change it!

How to Change your Weight Set Point

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