Have you ever lost weight, only to gain it all back again plus more? Weight loss and management is complex and can be extremely frustrating, but there is a way to lose weight and keep it off.
The concept of the Body Weight Set-Point
Have you ever heard of the body weight set point? It’s an interesting concept that explains why many people lose weight, only to put it back on again slowly over time.
All bodily functions are under homeostatic control, or self-regulation, including our weight.
Our weight is primarily controlled by the hypothalamus in our brain which can alter hormones, appetite signalling and metabolic rate.
The body weight ‘set-point’ is a preferred weight range that your body wants to stay at in order to feel comfortable. For overweight individuals, the ‘set-point’ is higher which explains why people may find it difficult to lose weight or regain the weight back after following a diet.
Our brains will try to defend the weight ‘set-point’ by increasing cravings and slowing metabolic rate in order to put the weight back on. Sound familiar?
The good news is, the ‘set-point’ can be lowered. There are 6 scientifically-proven ways to overcome your body’s attempts to revert to its previous weight ‘set-point’. Following these principles alters neurobiology, leading to reduced cravings, increased fat loss and a change in the original ‘set point’.
The 6 Principles of lowering the Set-Point
- Low to moderate diet palatability — this means adopting an unrefined whole food diet and restricting hyper-palatable foods. These are foods that contain high levels of fat, refined carbohydrates and sugars like pizza, chips, chocolate, etc. They cause inflammation and stimulate the reward centres in the brain which can override our satiety cues (feeling full and satisfied), making us hungrier and more addicted to these foods.
- Eat adequate protein — protein is crucial for weight loss. Adequate protein increases satiety, balances blood sugar and preserves lean muscle mass (meaning we burn more calories at rest). Studies show an increase in protein intake results in greater weight loss outcomes.
- Follow a low fat or Ketogenic diet — both diets have been shown to be effective for weight loss. The main goal is to unconsciously eat fewer calories and not be hungry. Which diet is best for you? Your practitioner can help you determine this.
- Take a diet break — yes, you heard right. One way to prevent weight plateaus and help prevent metabolic adaptations is by taking a break from strict dieting. Studies show that individuals who take diet breaks achieve greater weight loss than individuals who diet continually.
- Get enough sleep — getting less than 7-8 hours of sleep per night increases ghrelin (our hunger hormone), leading to an increased appetite. Lack of sleep makes us less likely to stick to our healthy eating plan and more likely to reach for sugar when we are tired.
- Get moving — regular exercise helps to reduce body weight. In particular, resistance training improves lean muscle mass which can increase metabolic rate, resulting in more calories burned at rest. Exercise also improves your mood and makes you less likely to opt for poor food choices.
In addition to the 6 principles, research shows weekly consultations with a healthcare professional are fundamental to the success of any weight loss program. Regular consultations provide progress tracking, support, accountability and motivation to ensure patients are reaching their weight loss goals.