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What is a set-point weight range?

Updated: Aug 4

You may have heard this term at some point and wondered what it meant. To put it simply, set-point weight is a range of weight (between10-20lbs) that your body functions the best at. Think of the weight as a temperature gauge for an oven. The oven will do it's best to maintain the internal temperature that has been chosen as best for the item baking. However, things may affect this temperature, such as the oven being opened frequently. Our set point weight range works like this. Our body uses hormones to maintain a set-point weight range. For example, we have ghrelin and leptin (the hunger and fullness) hormones will fight hard against weight loss during a famine (diet) by increasing ghrelin and decreasing leptin. There are some things that may affect the hormone's ability to maintain the set-point weight range, but first let's discuss what determines our set-point weight.

  1. Genetics

This cannot be changed. We are born with genes that determine body size and shape. No matter how hard you exercise or diet, your body will fight to remain at the genetically pre-determined size and shape.

2. Stress Level

Cortisol (the stress hormone) is higher in times of stress and can remain high with chronic stress. High levels of cortisol have been shown to increase fat storage in the body thus affecting your set-point weight range. Stress has also been shown to correlate with food restriction at times. Do you feel stressed all the time? A therapist can help you learn how to manage stress and process the current stress you have. With that being said, therapy is not meant to act as a weight loss tool!

3. Dieting and Restriction

Dieting and restriction act as famines to the body. When on a diet, your body will work hard to fight against weight loss by decreasing a person's basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy burned in one day). Chronic (yo-yo) dieting only exacerbates this phenomenon causing the body's basal metabolic rate to decrease to a low level. In severe cases of restriction, a client may become hypermetabolic (high rate of energy burn) making it harder to gain weight, when necessary, due to the body's need to regenerate muscle, fat, and glucose stores.

4. Age

As the body ages, hormones change and the basal metabolic rate decreases. This is a reminder not to expect your body to be the same at age 20 and 50 years, for example.

Are you at your set point weight? If you answer, "yes" to any of these questions, you may not be at your set point weight.

  1. Do you diet regularly?

  2. Do you skip meals or snacks?

  3. Do you experience amenorrhea?

  4. Do you purge via exercise, laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, or emesis?

  5. Do cut out major nutrients, such as carbs or fats?

  6. Do you binge at least weekly?

  7. Do you have chronic levels of stress?

  8. Do you ignore hunger and fullness cues?

  9. Are your hunger and fullness cues absent?

  10. Do you feel low levels of energy throughout the day due to lack of sleep or intake?

What now?

If you said, "yes" to any of these questions and would like to learn more, contact our office. We are happy to help you find food freedom and, in turn, your set point range. Keep in mind bodies are all shapes and sizes. Your set point weight range may be near your current weight, higher than your current weight, or lower than your current weight. Finding food freedom is not a weight loss strategy.

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