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Calculating the Weight Set Point?

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    ((Realized I posted this in the wrong section, and couldn’t find the edit button. Go figga. XD ))

    I have been thinking.. Part of the most ambiguous, aggravating part about diet and diet recovery is the prospect of weight gain. How much will you weigh? What is your happy place? Is it really xxx pounds?

    What if there is a scientific approach to determining and calculating where the weight set point falls?

    This concept came to me merely from an observational standpoint. I began thinking.. If bodies did, in fact, have a set point, it would seem as if the body structure would be predetermined to accommodation the weight with build. Body structure, sturdy bone structures, larger feet, whatever. Otherwise, how exactly would a forensic pathologist be able to determine the weight of a decomposed body, if not through measurements?

    Then, I was browsing through the fourms of CalorieCount (as I do on occasion), and stumbled upon a statement made by a recovering anorexic’s experiences in inpatient recovery: (note: She was on a 3400 calorie recovery meal plan, prior to lowering to the 2500 plan when her weight gain slowed)

    It is generally fairly complex and varies from person-to-person and can’t really be determined by an online calculator. My treatment team determined mine based on my body type, response to calories during refeeding, weight history, pediatric growth history, family history, etc. My weight had fluctuated a LOT in the past (from >150 down to ~80 lbs), and my setpoint was somewhere in between. They estimated that my setpoint weight would be 125-130, but my weight started to level off before then. I was able to maintain 120-125 lbs on 2500 calories, so this ended up being my setpoint. I am able to maintain on this level of calories and not feel hungry. When you say you ahve been maintaining for 6 months, do you know approximately how many calories you’ve been eating? Has it been easy to maintain, or have you been fighting it? Do you feel hungry/deprived? Do you have energy? Are you obsessive about food? These are all ways of potentially gauging whether or not you’re at your setpoint.

    Gwyneth of YourEatopia also seems to believe that the research suggests that people tend to stay within the same percentiles as their youth weight birth charts, excluding times of stress/lack of sleep where the weight may temporary rise/fall.

    Its an interesting concept. So at the very least, treatment facilities are aware of the set point and do calculations based on the above criteria. Barring major stresses, can anyone verify this through personal experiences and/or have tried to study this?

    mighty m

    Interesting post, wish I knew more. Everything described sounds plausible to me.

    As for the existence of a set point, I do buy that. I also am coming to believe that it isn’t “permanently” altered by past weight gain or loss as an adult, that it’s more likely a combination of heredity and childhood influences that sticks with you as physical “memory,” if you will. I’m theorizing that it can seem to be stuck higher, but that “stuckness” might be explainable through low metabolism, loss and non-replacement of muscle mass or something external like the side effect from a drug, a night job that disrupts sleep, etc. In other words, if the stressor could be removed and metabolic health could be regained, the body would theoretically gradually return to the inborn setpoint, percentile-wise. (Percentiles seem a good way to think about it … as opposed to a 40 year old gets it in their head that their setpoint should be what they weighed at 18! Not where they would fall relative to other 40-year-olds.) Finally, I seriously doubt that a set-point lower than what’s in-born can be maintained without constant vigilance, which isn’t normal or pleasant for most people.

    A Gina Kolata article from NYT (a few years old, but still good I think) explores how much of our ultimate body size/type is hereditary.

    It rings true for me personally. Although I’m just average height, I have biggish hands and feet (for a woman), wide pelvic bones and a larger bust (even when I’ve been quite thin). My sisters and I were really sturdy and muscular kids … never skinny, and sometimes chubby before a growth spurt. And when I’ve actually been objectively thin (rarely), it’s always been due to illness or extreme stress.


    I would have to completely concur with your theory, and think I holds a lot of weight (pun intended).

    To me, remaining within the same pediatric growth percentiles makes sense for the same reason. And I also do think there are probably a LARGE amount of people who are not at their set points and perhaps think they’re “destined” to be at that weight, for the reasons you mentioned.

    It’s pretty morbid but traditionally speaking, there has to be some validity to the body structure/weight correlation.. Otherwise, why would forensic pathologists bother?

    I think if people had a good idea as to where they were likely to end up after metabolic restoration, the whole process would be easier.

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