Body Set Point
Our bodies are so incredible! Many of our body functions are completely auto-regulated so that we don’t have to even think about “making” these functions happen. Some of these include maintaining heart rate, breathing, blood cell count, body fluid contents – meaning acid/base balance and electrolyte balance, hormone regulation, reproductive cycles, body fat deposition and blood glucose levels. All of these are automated “services” that your body supports you with on a daily basis. So how does this relate to a set-point in weight?
The body’s weight is also regulated by an automated regulator. Each of us has an ideal amount of weight and body fat programmed in our system that optimizes how our body functions. Some of us require more and some of us require less. This is part of the whole goal to maintain homeostasis in the body. When this gets disrupted with, through sickness, dieting, disordered eating, an imbalance of exercise, or stress, our bodies have to readjust to create that same homeostasis in the body.
This process can happen many times during a lifecycle just because of life experiences such as child birth, broken bones or other injuries, illnesses etc. These typically are temporary though, so the body is able to adjust and adapt relatively quickly. Its when self-imposed stresses are placed on the body that we start seeing adjustments in set point. These stresses can include: yo-yo dieting, extreme exercise, cycles of disordered eating or eating disorders of restriction, binging and binge-purge behaviors. Any activity that constantly pushes the body to change in some way and then change again so-to-speak.
Because the body does not see any difference between dieting and starvation, the main result is to increase body fat stores. Again, the whole goal and purpose of your beautiful body is to sustain life! Chronic dieting and exercise extremes that are not properly fueled can push this set-point upwards.
Take a minute to think back to a time that you may have tried to lose weight or even just change how you were eating because you wanted to “eat healthier”. How did you feel? How was your mindset? What were your thoughts around? When we are hungry and ignore the hunger cues and when our weight is moving towards a lower end range, there is a direct relation to how we feel and what we think. We can become more anxious, unsettled and we begin to spend a lot more time thinking about food, weight and hunger.
Our bodies are magnificent! The more we can maintain a weight that is effortless and doesn’t require restriction or hyper control. Or that we don’t have to fight, and obsess over to hold on to, the easier it is for our bodies to continue to take care of us with minimal discomfort and disease.
We are all UNIQUE and the optimal ranges for our bodily functions are totally unique to each of us as well. There is no “normal” that we each fall on a chart for insurance around. Work with your body to determine its happy range.
If you would like to explore this more, please feel free to contact me!
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Nicole is recognized state-wide and nationally as a Registered Dietitian and is also a Certified dietitian through the state of Wisconsin. She is also a Board Certified Sports Dietitian and a Certified Personal Trainer and Physical Fitness Instructor.
Nicole’s areas of expertise include: Wellness and lifestyle coaching, weight management, behavior modification, eating disorders, vegetarian lifestyles, gluten-free living, sports nutrition, recipe and menu design and development.