Body Weight Set Point Theory and the Problem With Yo-Yo Dieting

What goes up must come down.

But what about your weight?

Yo-yo dieting and restrictive eating can have major consequences on the body. The word “diet” is an ancient word with Latin and Greek roots meaning “way of living.” However, in modern times the term now describes an act of self-deprivation. It is skipping meals, counting calories, monitoring carbs, cutting out gluten, etc. It creates a mindset of scarcity and places emphasis on punishment.

Our bodies are programmed to maintain mass. This programming is called the body weight set point theory, and it means that your body is working hard to keep you alive at the weight you are, not the weight you desire to be. This theory suggests that it is largely driven by hormones, not necessarily calories.

When we go into a starvation mode and consume fewer calories than our bodies are accustomed, metabolism can slow down to match this new energy intake. When you have what is referred to as a slow metabolism, it simply means that your body is not burning very many calories in a given day. With a calorie-restricted diet, we usually lose weight for a little while and then-Boom—a plateau. With restricted eating, your body eventually burns the same number of calories you are consuming, and you stop losing weight.

Confused yet?

If the number of calories you consumed was not sustainable for your body (and body type), a rapid weight gain will ensue the moment you stop restricting calories. Often this leads to a weight gain that is higher than before you started restricting calories and…. you know where I’m going with this… more attempts to restrict calories in the future to lose the weight that was regained.  

Question: But I thought the only way to lose weight was to fewer calories than you burn?

Answer: Yes, that’s true! And no, it’s not true! Simply put, calories definitely matter, but our bodies are so much more complicated than a simple math equation. Remember that we are not only made of complex physiology, but we are emotionally and mentally complex. All of these factors drive hunger, weight, and obesity.

Yo-yo dieting can drive obesity.

Bariatric surgery works to reset the hormones that drive hunger, insulin regulation, and energy expenditure. It is a common misnomer that bariatric surgery works by restricting food intake, but it actually works by affecting hormones. And even method this only works long term if you can make lifestyle changes that are sustainable.  

It’s important to honor these changes your body is going through, stay mindful of your behaviors: exercise, maintain separation of meals from fluids, eat whole nutrition foods, and don’t consume liquid calories.

Health is a way of living. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just consistent. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else, it just has to look like you.

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