3

votes

Do bodies have a set point for weight that they like to be at?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 19, 2013 at 3:46 PM

I've been on a weight loss journey for several years now. It seems that no matter what I do, my body likes to hover around 162-165. 162 is the lowest I have ever had as an adult since starting the journey, and most of the time I'm 165. It seems no matter what I change, my body wants to be in that range. I am Paleo right now, and while I had gained weight before Paleo, I lost 15 pounds in my Whole30 all the way back to 165, and now my loss has pretty much come to a screeching halt. My body naturaly seems to always tend back to that point.

I'm doing well on Paleo, and am careful and don't purposefully cheat. Still working on dialing in my nuts, but I've admitted its a problem and am tackling. Hopping back on the exercise train too, but exercise makes me hold water, bloat, and increase scale numbers (I know, its not all about that, but it's a mental block), so it can be discouraging.

Do you think it sounds like my body is trying to tell me it likes this weight and feels healthy, or should I force it? Can you recommend any Paleo plateau buster secrets? FYI, I am 5'7" 25yo Female at 165 pounds. BMI would be 25.9 (24.9 is normal weight for my age and height). I'd like to be 150 but it doesnt seem attainable.

Thanks.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on April 19, 2013
at 07:39 PM

+1 for magical unicorn! Funny, I'm also in this range and at a setpoint, at 5'5" and 160.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 19, 2013
at 05:00 PM

Oh wow, just reread your post, lol. But yea, here's a picture of fake fat and muscle but it shows the huge difference in volume between the two at identical weights http://photos-ak.sparkpeople.com/nw/5/7/l577745361.jpg . Did you notice your posture improve as you did strength training also?

6967518836bd7e2331601a71e937ae0d

(170)

on April 19, 2013
at 04:37 PM

I'm not the person in the photo, but my transition was very similar. :)

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 19, 2013
at 04:29 PM

Nice transition, it looks like your posture improved also :)

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 19, 2013
at 04:10 PM

I was a hard-gainer for years, until I started eating food that tasted good.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 19, 2013
at 04:00 PM

http://paleohacks.com/questions/192149/set-point-theory-shangri-la-diet-and-plateau-busting#axzz2QvRQqDkc, Read the comment section to the main question.

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6 Answers

4
6967518836bd7e2331601a71e937ae0d

(170)

on April 19, 2013
at 04:17 PM

I'm 5'1 and I seem to stay at around 120 now. However, I've lost fat and gained muscle from strength training. Clothes fit better and there's a visible difference in body composition. So i don't worry about the scale. You could lose 15 pounds, but if those 15 pounds are mostly muscle, you won't look or feel too good. The scale isn't the best predictor of health. In fact, I used to be 115, but really puffy "skinny fat", and now I'm 120 and I look a lot better.

This image is NOT me, but it depicts what I'm explaining. Focus on strength training and ignore the scale.

do-bodies-have-a-set-point-for-weight-that-they-like-to-be-at?

6967518836bd7e2331601a71e937ae0d

(170)

on April 19, 2013
at 04:37 PM

I'm not the person in the photo, but my transition was very similar. :)

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 19, 2013
at 04:29 PM

Nice transition, it looks like your posture improved also :)

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 19, 2013
at 05:00 PM

Oh wow, just reread your post, lol. But yea, here's a picture of fake fat and muscle but it shows the huge difference in volume between the two at identical weights http://photos-ak.sparkpeople.com/nw/5/7/l577745361.jpg . Did you notice your posture improve as you did strength training also?

2
06bf7b92d77f1ac1d8e3dc9d539d8254

on April 19, 2013
at 07:14 PM

While I agree with August, I don't think just because you can change your setpoint does not mean that you should spend your time and energy changing it. You are about the same height and weight as me. I too have done just about every diet, eating program, fasting, not fasting, distance running, only weight lifting, not exercising at all, etc. And unless I completely starved myself into some sort of mad oblivion I cannot go below 152. And in fact I fluctuate between 152-165. When I am actively lifting heavy I weigh more, when I'm not exercising at all I weigh the least. That has to count for something right? My biology is fighting so hard to hang on there.. to a healthy and reasonable weight, but my stupid mind is trying to intervene in order to force me into some sort of magical unicorn of a cover-model.

I think above all else you need to ask yourself whether you are aiming for some sort of unrealistic aesthetic. We all do it.. we have a picture (or number) in our minds of what would be the perfect version of ourselves. I think generally we are wrong. Or if you really are overweight and in need of intervention (which it does not sound like you are).

At your same height and weight I am well muscled and all my clothes that fit when I am at my lowest 152.. still fit when I am at my highest 165. Do yours? What you most likely would benefit from is a long, slow recomp. Slowly build muscle while also slowly displacing fat. This can be achieved by eating more when you lift weights and eating a bit less on rest days. Nothing drastic.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on April 19, 2013
at 07:39 PM

+1 for magical unicorn! Funny, I'm also in this range and at a setpoint, at 5'5" and 160.

1
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on April 19, 2013
at 04:08 PM

Yes, but it isn't like you think it is. Check out Seth Roberts' stuff.

Here is a short explanation:

The set point is like an old mercury thermometer. As long as the environment stays the same, the mercury stays in the same place. If it gets hotter it rises, if it gets cooler it lowers. Similarly, the various things you eat have certain flavors. The flavors function as signals to the body as to the payload (calories, and possibly, nutrition) the body will get. The stronger and more reliable these signals are, the higher the set point rises, and the more fat we seem to carry around on our bodies. This is why processed food is so fattening- the flavor and payload is exactly the same over and over.

I started off with the Shangri-La Diet and once my appetite was under control, I started being low carb, got into paleo, etc... I dropped from 285 to 164 (my lowest point). I've been around 170-175 for two years or so. I have been struggling for the last six months to build some muscle, so now my scale tells me I am 180 sometimes, but it dips below that often enough for me to think it is mostly water and stuff. So, now that I have inadvertently joined the ranks of the hardgainers, I can tell you you can most certainly change your setpoint.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 19, 2013
at 04:10 PM

I was a hard-gainer for years, until I started eating food that tasted good.

0
Cceda01c6e1aefb1ca7f1aa5653cba2a

on April 19, 2013
at 11:50 PM

Thanks for all the responses! I'd still love to hear more ideas, but this helps so far confirm what I thought. I'm going to stick with the exercise and see what happens, definitely. It is just hard to get over the numbers going up. Being in the 160s is a huge victory for me, and I'm very attached now and don't like seeing 170s, so I am afraid of muscle!

0
3720f5eb63757f8cdbf393ac7530c1c3

(259)

on April 19, 2013
at 10:29 PM

I was only thinking about this question this week! Since I started paleo last year I dropped 3 inches off my waist, 2 off my hips and 3 off my chest... I'm now really lean to the point of looking a bit TOO muscular for a woman in my opinion - all veins and biceps and abs... But I was weighed last week by my doctor for the first time in months and I have lost NO weight at all! My whole adult life I've always hovered around 54kg and I'm still right there just a totally different body composition now.. I'm pretty sure I'm 'set' at this weight.

0
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on April 19, 2013
at 04:12 PM

I'm not a trained professional but I do have 50+ years of experience in gaining/losing weight.

I do seem to have a "pivot point." I'm not sure whether it's driven by % of body fat or some element of metabolism. Whatever.

When I was gaining, it would start as an emotional/reward center reinforcing loop. Once I reached a certain fat %, though, the momentum was in favor of gaining weight and there was physical as well as emotional intertia against losing. All it took was 1 day of eating junk food and it would take months before I could attempt to stop gaining.

When I'd manage to exert willpower and change my eating habits, I felt like my body was fighting me for the first month or 2 and then I'd hit the pivot point and signals straight. Everything then shifted in favor of losing weight and an occasional splurge had no negative effect.

This occurred in every one of my lose and gain cycles--I had 4 up/down cycles and experienced a clear pivot point in each direction each time.

One benefit of eating whole foods is that my shift into lose-weight mode comes much faster and with less resistance from my physical self. Eating like a fool on a given day doesn't automatically shift me back into addiction/gain-weight mode any more.

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