Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Set Point Theory: Can you break the fat barrier?

I was reading some interesting content from the MIT Medical Promotion & Wellness site. It was pertinent because I'm working on carving off those last few pesky pounds and had remembered some info back when I lost 15 pounds in the mid 1990's...Set Point dieting.

The theory states that our bodies have a control system that dictates how much fat each of our human shells should carry.  When God pushed the button and you came out, He opted for either a high or low fat setting - it wasn't up to you. No one knows how to change the set point and the set point keeps your weight fairly constant.   Weight loss efforts many times deliver a quick initial loss of poundage, but then the effort plateaus...and we remain as hungry as during the pound-loss phase. The theory states that your weight/fat set point is also the optimum for efficient activity and a "stable, optimistic mood." Push the set point down, depression and lethargy can follow.

So where do we go from here?  The Set Point advocates state that as we diet more our Set Point bodies push the metabolic rate even lower. Dieting becomes less effective and further weight loss is almost impossible.

Here's the master competitor cure for the Set Point blues:

1) Let your strong mind control the body.  We are given great brains and they have power to establish constraints.  Feed your engine with positive weight loss messaging.  Meditate on your new set point and why it will be beneficial to arrive there.

2) Shock the system.  For me, that was breaking out of the 90-minute run routine and turning it into a 10+ mile routine.  Now mileage is not dependent on time, instead time is dependent on mileage.

3) Count calories.  I'm a big advocate of Livestrong's MyPlate program.  I log all my exercise along with food intake, then monitor the daily net calories burned.

4) Stay conscious.  I face the fact I'm in a challenging place with weight loss and fitness. I weigh each morning after my workout.  I take my blood pressure each morning and evening.  I look at my running stats, mostly average pace per mile and average heart rate for each session.  Stay highly connected to the stats.

5) Shake up the food intake.  Set a base calorie limit for the day, then experiment.  I work with 2000 and try shifting my proteins, types of energy bars, when I eat fruit, late night snack content, etc.  What ever your norm is, break loose and tell your body changes are underway and there's nothing it can do to stop the revolution.

This is not an easy journey.  But if you commit, it's possible to experience change. I'm down 12 pounds since the insanity food binges that came with the Christmas holiday and it seems the set point barrier was broken.  My body is becoming light and crisp and in opposition to the theory, my mind is expanding and confident. There is a serene disposition that envelops me and I rest in the knowledge that I am fueling my body with clean, healthy food.

If you're hanging a bit on the thick side, consider challenging your own Set Point.  There's an amazing world on the other side.


  1. Anonymous9:07 AM

    A better indication of weight is to weigh yourself after you wake up but before breakfast/workout. If you weigh yourself after a morning workout, it's not an accurate indicator of your weight since you will have lost an amount of water weight that you would normally have.

  2. Great advice! I'll have to check out the MyPlate program. I've been using MyFitnessPal for a couple months now and it sounds like it's probably very similar.