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Unlocking The Weight Loss Puzzle Part 3: Your Metabolic Set Point

Welcome back to “Unlocking The Weight Loss Puzzle” a short series dedicated to providing tips for sensible adults who are looking to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Part one of this series dealt with the concept of eating for nourishment versus eating for pleasure. Part two focused on avoiding the temptation of junk food by keeping it out of reach. In Part three, we will explore metabolic set point theory.

Although metabolic set point theory may sound complicated, the concept is actually quite simple. Basically, set point theory states that each individual has his or her own metabolic set point. This set point causes adults to maintain body weight at a relatively stable level for long periods of time through a variety of complex mechanisms. It operates very much like the thermostat in your residence. If you set the thermostat to 70 degrees and the temperature drops to 68, the thermostat will signal your furnace to fire up until the temperature reaches 70 degrees, at which point the furnace will shut off.  Interestingly, regulation of your body temperature is another set point mechanism.

Unfortunately, there is no direct way to measure an individual’s metabolic set point and there is controversy regarding what alters set point. Additionally, it has been theorized that it takes at least 12 months of consuming a “normal” diet and participating in moderate exercise to reach one’s ideal set point.

There is no denying that genetics play a role in determining body size and weight and therefore some individuals will have a higher set point than others. However, I firmly believe that it is possible to “reset” an individual’s set point over time by maintaining a consistent diet and exercise regimen. Consider that the average adult gains almost a pound per year. According to research by the Harvard School of Public Health, this weight gain is caused primarily by diet and lifestyle choices. In other words, the average person is slowly and steadily adjusting their set point (albeit in the wrong direction).

The key is to have a lifestyle that is congruent with your health goals. Diets simply do not work on a long-term basis for the vast majority of people who attempt them. I believe the primary reason for the failure of these diets is they are not sustainable and cause weight loss through caloric restriction. Once the diet is no longer being followed, the individual’s body simply goes to work bringing body weight back to its pre-diet set point. It is the same with people who exercise via boot camps or 90 day programs and burn off a ton off calories and speed up their metabolism for a short period of time. Once the boot camp is over it is back to their prior set point.

Not only are these methodologies for weight loss ineffective, they are dangerous. According to a study conducted at UCLA, evidence suggests that repeatedly losing and gaining weight is linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and altered immune function. And obviously, living with one’s body weight in a constant state of flux is not ideal from a lifestyle standpoint.

In the final installment of this series I will offer some tips on setting up some easy-to-implement nutrition and exercise “success rituals” to help maintain a healthy body weight and metabolic set point

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February 24, 2014 Posted by | Karate Union County NJ, Kickboxing Union County NJ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment