Setpoint Weight: A weight the body strives to maintain within a range of 10 to 20 pounds. This weight is determined by a combination of genetics, hormones, the hypothalamus in the brain, the gut microbiome, and lifestyle choices.
Before we talk about Setpoint Weight and why it is the key to losing weight and keeping it off, we want to talk about a prevalent issue.
Why do so many people struggle to lose weight?
Modern diets and weight loss programs focus on gimmicks, counting calories, and calorie deficits. The gimmicks in these diets come and go, yet counting calories has remained consistent. Without any real results. Why haven’t we asked ourselves, does counting calories really work?
Instead, we ignored the fundamental flaw in all of these diets and programs. We keep slapping new covers on books that contain essentially flawed information, and we expect different results.
To truly change your body, to change how you look and feel, you need to try something different.
What is the old quote? You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.
Simply put, counting calories is a reductive concept that completely ignores the complexities of how our bodies work. As humans, we are these biological marvels capable of growing, learning, and changing in incredible ways. From the outside, our bodies look so simple. But on the inside, we discover a symphony of coordinated, co-dependent, interactive systems that work to keep us moving, breathing, thinking, eating, digesting, exploring, experiencing, and interpreting the world.
Do you really think that our bodies function on a system that is as simple as fuel-in-fuel-out? Of course not! But really, for as long as we have studied health and nutrition, we have simplified things down to a basic formula. And what have the results been?
They have been nothing short of disastrous. All you have to do is look around you to see the evidence of this. Obesity, a condition characterized by excess fat accumulation that poses health risks, has reached epidemic proportions worldwide. An estimated 44% of American adults are obese. Heart disease, which is directly linked to obesity, is the leading cause of death in America. Cancer is the second leading cause of death.
Setpoint weight & obesity?
Each of these mortality epidemics is closely linked to obesity.
According to current estimates by The World Cancer Research Fund, about 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the US are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and poor nutrition.
It is important to note that all of these are related to increased cancer rates; however, body weight appears to have the strongest correlation.
Obesity has been clearly linked to increased rates of each of the following types of cancer:
- Breast (in women past menopause)
Obesity influences nearly every system in the body, including inflammation, immune function, hormone production, insulin production, and cell growth. It elevates a person’s risk for cancer through these systems.
So far, we have talked about the cost of obesity in terms of mortality. That is to say nothing about the individual costs of obesity. There is a major stigma in our society against obesity. Recent studies suggest that the prevalence of so-called “fat shaming” has increased by nearly 66 percent during the last decade. The prevalence of fat shaming is now comparable to racial discrimination rates in America.
Further, researchers at the University of Florida found that more than 80 percent of people who used to be overweight would rather be blind or have their legs cut off than be heavy again.
For most of these individuals, their weight is not entirely their fault. They want to lose weight. They want to be healthy. They want to be thin. But throughout their lives, they have been led astray. For us, this is a tragedy.
Listening to your body
Eating the right way is naturally satisfying. Your struggles with hunger, the prolonged periods of forced starvation, that empty feeling when you finish a meal… none of that is normal. None of is natural. This is exactly why the countless diets that emphasize calorie restriction end in failure at worse and yo-yo dieting at best.
When you dramatically reduce your calorie consumption (as you have been told to do time and time again), a little biological alarm goes off in your body. Something is happening!!! Something different and strange and scary!!
Your body is worried that it’s suddenly receiving dramatically less fuel and sustenance than it used to. It kicks into survival mode, and your metabolism shifts. Your body starts craving MORE food and storing more fat.
Our bodies strive to maintain homeostasis, also known as equilibrium or the status quo. Examples of this can be seen throughout our biology. Consider your body temperature. When you are in a hot environment, you sweat to cool the outside of your body down. A subtler homeostatic response can be seen when your skin flushes red during a fever. This happens because your small blood vessels are expanding to bring more heated blood to the surface of the body, where It can cool. Finally, shivering is a homeostatic response to cold in which your body tissues work to produce more heat.
A moment ago, we discussed how your metabolism shifts when entering into a calorie deficit. This is another example of homeostasis in action. The status quo that your body is trying desperately to maintain is your Setpoint Weight. We will get more into that later.
When you enter into a calorie-deficit diet, your body cries out for more food while storing fat. Yes, you can lose weight under these, but it requires more than a simple calorie deficit. It requires a MEGA-calorie deficit. And that is exactly how most diets and weight loss programs function.
There are 3 primary problems with this weight loss by mega-calorie deficit strategy.
First, it’s an absolutely miserable way to live. When you attempt to lose weight with a mega-calorie deficit, you have to deny yourself almost all of the things that you enjoy in life. It’s an inherently negative strategy dependent on self-restriction, willpower, frustration, and guilt. It’s not uplifting or empowering. It’s defeating.
Second, weight loss from a mega-calorie deficit almost never stays off. It’s just too hard to maintain such a dramatic calorie deficit for a long period of time. Once you end the mega-calorie deficit, all the weight you lost typically comes right back on. That is because your weight loss strategy was unsustainable.
Finally, weight loss from a mega-calorie deficit is downright unhealthy. Starvation dieting is traumatic to the body. It’s a brute-force assault on the status quo. It has a negative effect on your metabolism and hormone production. It’s also naturally self-limiting. When you enter into starvation mode, your body starts looking for other sources of energy. Eventually, it will turn to your muscle. This is a massive problem. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in your body. It’s your closest ally in burning fat. When you begin cannibalizing muscle during a mega-calorie deficit diet, you risk passing a frightening tipping point.
So yes… calorie-deficit diets have their issues.
Luckily, there is a better way to lose weight. A natural way that helps you keep the weight off while reprogramming your body to behave like that of a natural thing person.
This is the Setpoint Diet, which lowers your Setpoint.
Before you can really understand why Setpoint level is the key to losing weight and keeping it off, you are going to have to unlearn decades of misleading weight loss advice.
What Is setpoint weight?
Essentially, the setpoint is a composite idea that refers to the level of stored fat, typically around 10 to 20 pounds, that your body actively works to maintain. Your body has programmed itself into believing that your current weight is your natural weight. This is true even if your weight falls in an unhealthy weight range.
Your body works actively works to maintain your setpoint in a number of ways. Primarily, it accomplished this by regulating your appetite and metabolism through your hormones, genes, and brain.
Setpoint Weight is the name for that invisible force that you have always known is there fighting against you as you struggle to lose weight. It’s the previously unexplainable resistance to change that you knew was alive somewhere inside your body.
Setpoint explains why it’s so difficult to lose weight and keep it off through calorie restriction and misguided exercise. It also explains why people tend to hover around the same weight for most of their lives. Sure, there may be one or two instances in their life when a person’s weight shifts dramatically (usually gaining weight), but these large shifts typically lead to a new status quo (or a new weight).
Dramatic changes in weight are almost always linked to major lifestyle changes. Think about typical life transitions that are notorious for resulting in weight gain. What comes to mind? Among others, you probably thought of the first year of college, marriage, parenthood, and the beginning of a new career.
Why does this happen?
It’s simple, these transitional periods are directly linked with factors that raise your setpoint weight. This is much different than simply gaining a few pounds. If you pack on 5 pounds without elevating your setpoint weight, then those pounds will quickly melt off before you know it. If your setpoint is elevated, then those new pounds will stick to you like glue.
You know those people in your life who are just naturally thin? They eat and eat and eat without gaining weight. They are able to do that because they have a low setpoint weight. However, if they do things that elevate their setpoint weight, this ability will disappear.
This is precisely what happens during the transitional periods we just discussed. The people (we all know them) who seem to experience permanent weight shifts during these times have simply elevated their setpoint weight. They have reprogrammed their bodies to accept a new normal. Now, their metabolism, hormones, genes, and brain will fight to keep that weight on.
How is setpoint key to losing weight and keeping it off?
All your life, you have been taught that calories are calories. At the end of the day, what really matters is a simple formula: calories burned subtracted from calories consumed. If you want to lose weight, you need to crunch those numbers and end up with a result that is less than zero, also known as a calorie deficit. It doesn’t matter who you are or how you achieved the deficit, just so long as you got there.
As we have learned here today, the body is much more complex than that. Counting and cutting calories is like watering your garden less to get rid of weeds or being told to breathe less to cure your allergies. Both are absurd because they are self-defeating. The same goes for managing your weight by adhering to a mega-calorie deficit.
Think about it for a moment. If we had already solved this problem, if losing weight and being healthy was as simple as counting calories, then why has the weight loss industry grown into the bloated $50 BILLION business it is today?
Why are 2.2 billion people worldwide still obese?
It’s simple: these people don’t have the answers they need. They haven’t learned that the real solution is to break free from short-term restrictive strategies that result in little more than harmful yo-yo dieting, guilt, frustration, and confusion.
They haven’t learned that setpoint is the key to losing weight and keeping it off.
The key to losing weight and keeping it off is to first lower your setpoint weight. When you have an elevated setpoint, your body actively works against all of your best efforts to shed pounds.
When a person has an elevated setpoint, their body has essentially become clogged by inflammation, hormones, genetics, and metabolism.
In fact, you can think of the body like a clogged sink. Yes, water will still drain, but it drains slowly. When you fill the sink with too much water, it’s just going to overflow. Traditional diets ask you to solve this problem simply by running less water (restricting calories). Sure, this will prevent an overflow, but it is not solving the problem!!! It is simply a surface-level fix that ignores the underlying issue.
The same is true to solve the problem, you need to remove the clog. You need to lower your Setpoint. Once you do that, the sink will drain like quickly and completely. And your body will act like that of a naturally thin person. It will burn fat like a furnace. You will finally lose weight and keep it off.
But let’s not skip ahead. If you want to lower your Setpoint and remove the metabolic clogs in your body, you have to understand why they occurred in the first place.
What influences weight?
This may sound overwhelming to start with, but here it goes: everything influences your setpoint weight.
Almost every choice you make in your life will impact your setpoint. Most choices will have a very minor impact on your setpoint, lowering it or raising it by a small amount. However, you likely make a large number of these choices on a daily basis. As we know, a large number of small things can make a HUGE difference.
Some of the choices that have a minor impact on your setpoint are standing vs. sitting or cooking over the stove vs. using the microwave. Improper exercise will raise your setpoint, while eating organic foods will result in a minor decrease. All of these decisions add up.
Remember earlier in this blog when we talked about major life transitions and how they often result in weight gain and even an elevated setpoint? That is because they are closely linked with factors that cause major to extreme setpoint increases! These factors include stress, starvation dieting, pregnancy, cortisol imbalance, menopause, and consuming starchy, sugary foods.
These are the decisions and events that elevate your Setpoint, but what is happening inside your body when you are exposed to these things? What is happening on a deeper level?
There are three primary internal factors that play a role in setpoint weight:
- Brain Inflammation: Inflammation is a natural process that takes place inside your body. Primarily, it is associated with healing. During inflammation, your blood vessels dilate, allowing nutrients, white blood cells, antibodies, and enzymes to flood into the affected area. This only becomes a problem if inflammation continues for too long. Poor diet is closely linked to brain inflammation, and brain inflammation is closely linked to obesity. Primarily, this is because neuro-inflammation hinders the production of two key hormones, leptin, and insulin, which help to regulate appetite.
- Gut Bacteria: Every day, we learn more and more about gut bacteria , and everything we learn points to gut bacteria being an essential part of our health. When we discuss setpoint weight, there are two major phyla we are concerned with, Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. Studies have shown that obese individuals have a higher ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes in their gut flora. It gets complex, but essentially we want more Bacteroidetes than Firmicutes!
- Fat-Burning Hormones: Fat-burning hormones communicate between your belly and your brain. These little chemical messengers can turn you into a fat-burning machine, or they can instruct your body to retain every last calorie you consume as if it’s the last calorie you will ever eat. These hormones also influence how your body allocates weight.
How do I lower my setpoint weight?
We have created a simple program to help you lower your weight and change your life. All you need to do to lower your weight and reprogram your body is to start making SANE decisions.
You can learn all about SANE decisions and lowering your weight in our upcoming book, the Setpoint Diet, but we would love to give you a preview right here today. We break SANE decisions down into four primary categories.
- SANE Eating: You will lower your Weight dramatically by making SANE food choices. SANE foods include quality fibers, moderately low carbs, and the right fats. Of course, you need to avoid inSANE foods, which include sugar, sweeteners, starches, and fructose.
- SANE Exercise: Low-quality conventional exercise is not just counterproductive, it can be dangerous and elevate your setpoint! SANE Exercise helps you lower your Setpoint weight via eccentric training and proper rest.
- SANE Sleep: Insufficient, poor sleep elevates your setpoint. SANE Sleep strategies help you achieve the deep, restful, restorative sleep you need to lower your Weight.
- SANE Stress Management: Stress wreaks havoc on your hormone levels, elevating your setpoint. If you want to reprogram your body to behave like that of a naturally thin person, you must adapt SANE stress management techniques!