Understanding Your Body's Set Weight Point

Understanding Your Body's Set Weight Point

If you've been yo-yoing up and down the scale for years, you might be doing more harm than good. Research has repeatedly shown that yo-yo dieting can be just as bad as being obese, and some studies even argue that yo-yo dieting is more dangerous. If you're ready to stop the cycle of weight loss followed by rapid gain, it's time to consider the possibility that your body's natural weight set point is simply higher than you'd like it to be.

What Is Your Weight Set Point?

Your weight set point is simply the weight your body naturally gravitates toward. If you're eating healthy, remaining reasonably active, and not taking any drugs, your body will tend toward this weight. To get below this weight, you'll have to rev up the dieting and exercise. The good news, though, is that your weight set point also makes it hard to gain significant weight. Even if you overeat for a week or two, you likely won't go a few pounds over your weight set point.

What Determines Weight Set Point?

Researchers aren't yet sure what goes into establishing weight set point or to what degree it can be changed. We do, however, know that set points for weight can fluctuate depending on environment, stress, and health choices, suggesting there's plenty of room for change. Other factors that can affect your weight set point include:

  • Early nutritional history – research is increasingly showing that children who eat unhealthy foods in large quantities or at early ages are more likely to have higher weight set points.
  • Your genetic legacy – your body likely looks a lot like your parents. If both of your parents are large, it's unlikely that you'll have a low weight set point.
  • Your overall health – if you suffer from endocrine system problems, struggle with chronic illness, or take certain medications, your set point can fluctuate.

Does My Weight Set Point Mean I Can't Lose Weight?

Many people blame their weight set point for their inability to lose weight. It's true that, if you have a higher-than-average weight set point, you may never have a 22” waist or be the thinnest person in the room. Doing so would simply be unhealthy for your body. But your body is still capable of shedding fat and putting on muscle. It's just that jump-starting weight loss may take a bit more time and a bit more patience.

Tips for Dealing With a High Weight Set Point

If you tend to linger at a specific weight, this may indicate that you have a higher weight set point than you'd like. There's plenty of ways for getting around this. In addition to the tried-and-true adage that exercise and a healthy diet will always help you lose weight, consider some of the following strategies:

  • Reduce your stress. High stress can cause your body to cling to those last few pounds.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Research suggests that sleep deprivation can cause your waistline to slowly and steadily expand.
  • Increase your activity level. You don't have to hit the gym to lose weight. Walking more often, spending more time standing instead of sitting, and even stretching during television commercial breaks can all help you shed a few extra calories – and pounds.
  • Talk to your doctor. Occasionally a health condition interferes with weight loss, so if you're doing everything right and still not losing weight, it's time to explore why that might be.