Body Weight Set Point

body weight set point

Have you ever had great success with weight loss through following a particular diet, only to find before you even have time to adjust to your new reflection in the mirror you realised you have gained it all back again?

Does it seem no matter what you try the weight seems to inevitably come back?

It is clear that there is an evident link between our body weight and how much energy you eat vs expend. But did you know that the brain, mostly without your awareness, controls hunger and energy use.

Most of our hunger cues are subconscious as your brain is doing most of the work for us.

Your brain and body weight:

Your brain also has its own senseof what you should weigh,no matter what you consciously believe. We call this your set point plus or minus roughly 2-5 kg. Lifestyle changes you make can help shift your weight up and down within that range, although it’s a lot harder to stay outside of it.

Our body weight is regulated through the hypothalamus. This part of your brain is responsible for chemical signalling for weight gain or weight loss. Your body responds to these signals by either telling the body to adjust hunger, activity and/or metabolism. All of which help to keep your weight stable as circumstances change.

Think about your hypothalamus as your body’s thermostat – responsible for maintaining equilibrium.  Your brain responds to weight loss by using chemical signals to push our weight back to what is considered normal ‘set point’.  Unfortunately your brain cannot tell whether or not you need to loose weight for general health – wouldn’t this be ideal.

If you lose a significant amount of weight you naturally become hungry, and your muscles burn less energy suppressing your metabolism.

"In other words a successful dieter must eat less kilojoules and expend more energy forever in comparison to someone of the same weight who has always been thin."

When humans lived more of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle our survival was dependent on conserving energy when food was scarce, and regaining the weight when food was available protected against the next shortage.

Research is showing that sustained weight loss for as long as seven years still doesn’t allow for a new ‘set point’. From a survival perspective if this weight loss were due to famine then this would be a sensible response.  Sadly, on the flip side a temporary weight gain can become permanent. If you stay at a high weight for too long, probably a matter of years for most of us, your brain may decide that that's the new normal.

So what’s the key to overcoming your body’s ‘set point’?

The secret lies in your psychological triggers for eating.

Do your rely on your hunger (intuitive eating) to control your weight or do you rely on will power (controlled eating)?

Intuitive eaters are actually less likely to be overweight; they spend less time thinking about food.

Controlled eaters are more vulnerable to overeating and extrinsic triggers.

So the key is to avoid ever going on a diet – too late for some. Research shows that girls who diet in their early teens are more likely to become overweight.

It is well documented that diets don't have very much reliability. The typical outcome of dieting is that you're more likely to gain weight in the long run than to lose it.

What is the solution?



Mindful eating is about learning to understand your body’s internal cues for hunger and satiety. A lot of weight gain boils down to eating when we are not hungry.

A Dietitian can provide you with the support and advice to getting of the diet cycle.  Hardy Nutrition can coach you to success with becoming an intuitive mindful eater, ultimately giving you back control in managing your body weight set point. All you need is an open mind… oh and to book in a mindful eating consult :) 

Click Here to Book Online Today!