Definition of Set Point Theory: Range of weight the body has to perform the best. When trying to lose weight, the body will fight to maintain the particular weight range.
Those seeking to lose weight as well as those suffering from eating disorders may have trouble understanding the set point theory. Ultimately the set point is the weight range in which your particular body is programmed to function at its best. The set point theory believes that a person’s body will fight to maintain that particular weight range. Every person, male or female, has a set point, and just as we do not have control over our eye color, hair color or height, we have no control over our set point. The body itself is genetically determined to weight in a certain weight range. The set point theory was first developed in 1982 by Gurin and Bennett to explain why to repeat dieting from patients was unsuccessful in producing long-term weight changes in a patient’s shape and overall weight.
Set points vary for each person. Scientists believe that the average person has a set point range of about ten to twenty pounds, meaning that there is a range at which the body is comfortable and will resist attempts to change that weight. Anyone who has ever tried dieting will know how hard it is to lose weight continuously. This is why! Known as plateaus, this is typically a sign that the body is attempting to fight to retain the weight it is. Some people have a high setting and some flat, that’s why some people have a small frame, medium and larger frame (big-boned).
When you go below your body’s particular set point, both your metabolism and appetite adjust to try to return you to that set point. The metabolism will slow down to conserve energy. The body will start to sense a semi-starvation state and will attempt to use few calories it receives effectively. The body may require more sleep; the body temperature will drop, and many women will lose their menstrual cycle. This typically occurs when a woman’s weight becomes too low. Her entire reproductive system will shut down because her body cannot handle a pregnancy safely.
Ultimately when body fat is lost, the appetite of the person losing weight will increase. Many individuals who diet will also experience the urge to binge eat. This is because the body is asking for more food than is being provided to function well. Just as the metabolism is slowed when you get to a set point, it will increase if you go over it. The body will continue to try to fight against weight gain by increasing the total metabolic rate and raising the temperature of the body to help burn off any unwanted calories. The set point theory can be both good and bad for dieters.
There is no test that helps someone determine what their body’s natural set point is. However, finding a set point for those who have dieted for an extended period may not be tough. For dieters, it’s important to accept the fact that the body needs to be at a particular weight to stop the dieting cycle. The more that someone tries to go below this set point range, the harder the body will fight to retain its natural weight.
Ultimately, your individual body is a result of three factors: individual genetic makeup, behavioral and environmental factors. Because of the physiological factors, obesity doesn’t have to be cyclical. A recent study by The New England Journal of Medicine, by the 95% of obese people who lose weight with a rigorous weight-loss program will regain the weight (or more) within two to five years.