"Yo-Yo Dieting & The Set Point Theory" (Blog #153)

Most of us know how real the struggle with weight loss is to losing the weight and then quickly regaining it all back. We may join a gym, start drinking a fancy fat loss shake, pop in the latest DVD and sweat to the oldies, or cut out all sugars in our diets. But statistically, people who lose weight will regain it back. Why is that and can we overcome it? Lets take a look into what really happens when we diet and discuss the "set point theory"..

Dieting usually consists of people drastically cutting their calories for a few days, weeks or months and adding in some exercise. Many people cut so drastically that they're constantly hungry. Because this is not sustainable, they quickly revert to their old habits and their old daily caloric intake. When you don't eat, the body thinks it's DIETING. It can't differentiate between a diet and starving to death. So what does the body do? It slows the metabolism and signals the body to store fat so it can survive for as long as it can. Quick weight loss is almost a guarantee that you will see a quick weight gain.

Some of you may have heard the term "Set-Point Theory". Well, it's just that, it's a theory about how the body will try its hardest to stay at its current weight and remain in a state of homeostasis.

  • "According to the set-point theory, there is a control system built into every person dictating how much fat he or she should carry – a kind of thermostat for body fat. Some individuals have a high setting, others have a low one. According to this theory, body fat percentage and body weight are matters of internal controls that are set differently in different people.

  • The set-point theory was originally developed in 1982 by Bennett and Gurin to explain why repeated dieting is unsuccessful in producing long-term change in body weight or shape. Going on a weight-loss diet is an attempt to overpower the set point, and the set point is a seemingly tireless opponent to the dieter.

  • The ideal approach to weight control would be a safe method that lowers or raises the set point rather than simply resisting it. So far no one knows for sure how to change the set point, but some theories exist. Of these, regular exercise is the most promising: a sustained increase in physical activity seems to lower the setting (Wilmore et al. 1999). "

It can be extremely frustrating trying to lose body fat and maintain an "ideal" body weight, but there's hope! Starting a weight loss/fat loss plan needs to be just that: a plan. As the little bit of research shows us, consistent (daily) exercise works best to lower the Set-Point Theory and help keep you at an overall lower (healthier) weight. Mix that with better nutritional choices and smaller portion sizes and you can get lean and stay lean. As long as you allow the body to readjust to its "new" set point, you can have an easier time maintaining that weight/body fat.

Lets have a little recap: When you do set out on your fat loss journey, make sure you exercise daily. Also, make small subtle changes to your caloric intake and the quality of foods that you're eating. And remind yourself that weight loss is not linear, it will go up and down day t day, and week to week. Maintaining the course and staying consistent is the key to your long term success.

Example: Your Weight on a 12 week fat loss plan...

Week 1: 180

Week 2: 176

Week 3: 177

Week 4: 173

Week 5: 179

Week 6: 177

Week 7: 175

Week 8: 172

Week 9: 170

Week 10: 166

Week 11: 168

Week 12: 165

It's normal and common for your weight to fluctuate. The quicker you realize that it's common and completely normal, the better off you are. But most people will quit at week five because they had a few "bad days". Change your lifestyle, allow the new set point to kick in and be patient.

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