Almost every person knows the disheartening feeling of dieting and working out, only to find that their weight fluctuates instead of steadily decreasing. The question is, why does it this happen? Wouldn’t it make more sense if you simply dropped pounds as you work toward your ideal body image?
Fortunately, science might have given us an answer, and it concerns the adaptability of the human body. So many factors affect how our body loses, gains, and maintains its weight, but in a perfect world, your body would be able to stabilize itself at one healthy weight. This weight is referred to as your “set point.”
According to those who have researched this concept, every individual has one weight point that is specifically set for and by their body. This weight is determined by a variety of things, including genetics, past eating habits, and exercise routines.
Essentially, your body is hardwired to resist changes that drastically veer from this set point, even if you’re working hard to move to a lower weight. It uses internal regulations to combat big gains and losses in weight and body fat, which can be a real nuisance when you’re trying to lose weight quickly.
So, where does your metabolism come into play with this theory? According to studies, your metabolic rate can actually decrease as you shed pounds. That’s your body attempting to counteract the weight changes that are taking place. In many cases, after you lose a substantial amount of weight, you might have to eat less than usual to maintain that weight because your metabolism has been altered.
Now it’s important to understand that not every doctor or research agrees on the validity of set point weight theory. Some believe that your environment and hereditary elements do determine the weight that your body will attempt to stick to. Others claim that this is a myth and that there are too many factors at play to determine if set point weights exist.
If we progress under the impression that people do have a set point weight, then it’s important to understand what happens as you attempt to move below that weight. As you’re trying to slim down and shed unnecessary pounds, your body might be doing a number of things to counteract the change.
In general, your body will work to regain the pounds you have recently lost. One way it will do this is by producing an excess amount of ghrelin, a hormone that causes you to feel hungry and crave food. You’ll also have to work out more often and for longer periods of time to maintain your current weight and work against the body’s recovery process.
Some people have high set point weights. Others have fairly low ones. The key is to find your personal set point weight so that you can more accurately target your diet and exercises. Furthermore, knowing your “perfect” weight will help you understand when your body is primed to function at its best capacity.
The easiest way to determine your weight set point is to first calculate your body mass index, then begin following a nutritious and healthy lifestyle. Don’t engage in any overly excessive diets or workout routines, or they can skew your metabolism and prevent you from reaching your weight set point. Then, as you begin to get into a rhythm and stop losing or gaining weight, take note of the general weight that seems to be easiest for your body to maintain.
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Unhappy with the weight your body always seems to lean towards? Don’t give up just yet; there are ways to work toward a different weight set point. Most of these methods concern your behavior and big lifestyle changes.
For instance, let’s say you broke a leg and became unusually sedentary for the next few months. The more your body adjusted to that lack of exercise, the more your weight set point would begin to readjust to account for that lifestyle. The key to changing your weight is doing so gradually but effectively. Radical diets, extreme workouts, and other excessive changes won’t help. Focus more on slow, helpful changes that will permanently alter your weight set point, not just your current weight.
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Although weight set point theory is not an entirely supported concept, there are many people who seem to think it makes perfect sense. Your body is constantly trying to keep you safe and stable. Therefore, when you attempt to lose a substantial amount of weight quickly, your body will attempt to get your weight back to its steadiest number.
Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life in whatever your current set point weight may be. Focus on making life-long healthy choices, not fad diets or workouts, and you’ll start to see results.
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