Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

10 May 2016

Weight Set-Point

Over the last few weeks my weight has finally come down from the blip of visiting the US. I've also increased my cycling levels now it's dry and light. My weight hasn't continued to fall, but has returned to a stable point of a 7-day average between 65.5 and 66.0 kg, and a daily range of 65.0 to 66.5 kg, where it was before I went to the US. It is possible I have now reached the lowest weight I'll get to without drastic actions.

It's based on the theory of body weight set point. The idea is that at birth your genetic make-up has a planned height and weight for you, which if given the right number of food calories you will get to. Until very recently most people couldn't eat enough so were shorter and lighter than their DNA planned.

The theory continues that once you are an adult the body regulates your weight by two basic methods, hunger and metabolic regulation. You feel full when you have eaten enough so you stop eating and hunger makes you eat when your body needs food. If you temporarily over or under eat for a few days the body can adjust your metabolism to waste or conserve the extra calories as well as changing your hunger levels.

The final elements is that the feedback of all this is plastic. If you overeat every day, even by as little as 100 kcal your body will over time shift the weight set-point up. In evolutionary history being able to over eat every day is so rare that there has never been any selection pressure to prevent it, which is as the theory goes the reason we have problems in the West, with our over abundance of cheap, high calorie foods.

The upshot of this is that if you are over weight and you starve yourself to lose weight two things happen automatically, you feel hungry and your metabolism shifts, so you actually need fewer calories anyway. I noticed hunger pangs on some days, but more noticeable was the fact that over the last winter I was freezing on many days, something I've never experienced as an adult - which probably means my body was in desperate energy conservation mode.

Shifting the set-point up took years, so shifting it down will probably also take years, which means I'll have to rigorously stick to my diet for at least another year, so that I can shift set-point down and my base metabolic rate up to compensate for the occasional something, that I can't deal with in energy conservation mode now.

My current diet on paper should make me lose weight, but as my metabolism is now running slower than you would expect, my energy input and output are probably very closely matched, hence the apparent static weight for the past month.

Basically the upshot is I can't have a treat every now and then, I really must stick to my strict calorie controlled diet for at least another year. After another year on my diet I may have reprogrammed my body so it does the right thing on it's own, rather than me having to think about things for it...