What is the set point theory?
You might have heard of the set point theory or set point weight. Maybe you saw it somewhere on the internet or read it in a book. But what exactly is it and how do we find out what our set point weight is?
Set point is defined as the weight range in which your body functions optimally, at homeostasis. Every BODY's set point weight is going to be different because it's determined by our genetics (just like your height, eye colors, show size, etc) and while some external factors can temporarily manipulate our set point, your body fights hard to bring your weight back to its normal range if it fluctuates.
For example, If you try to lose weight by eating less, you might feel hungry all the time So instead of losing pounds fast as you intended on this low-calorie diet plan—you’ll probably gain them back as soon as possible! This is also why diets don't work in most cases and why it's best just not even bother with them altogether. (This is a topic for another post, haha)
How does this translate to modern-day dieting? When we diet (restrict calories, eliminate certain food groups, create a calorie deficit through exercise. We may lose weight initially. But this triggers a signal of alarm to the body, "My human is starving! Conserve energy - STAT." Your metabolic rate decreases and as dieting continues, other symptoms can begin to manifest because your body needs more food than that just to function normally. Your body will increase your level of hunger, and increase the number of thoughts about food. All these natural body reactions make us more prone to binge eating.
Trying to keep your body below its natural weight range results in an ever-increasing battle with your body's regulatory systems. This means that trying to control your body through restricting food intake can actually lead to a loss of control around food and lead to more weight gain and increase your set point.
So how do even we know what our set point is? Unfortunately, there's no equation or test to determine someone's set point weight. In order for our bodies to maintain a set point weight, we need to be giving our body the nourishment it needs by trusting our bodies. It can be scary, especially if you have a history of dieting, but working with a dietitian can help you navigate that process!