Body Weight Set Point – Is This Why You Can’t Lose Weight?


Body weight set point theory is the idea that your body “defends” a certain weight.

If you lose 20 pounds, then go off the diet, you tend to gain that weight back over time.

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Your body almost wants to return to that heavier weight you were before the diet.

Only 10% of people tend to keep weight off once they lose it, so although Body Weight Set Point is just a theory… something is going on here.

I want to explore a few strategies to override the body’s tendency to return to a higher previous set point weight.

Before I talk about that, I wanted to break this up with a music video.

The music theme for this article… mid-80s songs I would put on the Netflix show Stranger Things if I were in charge of music selection.

*The Smiths – How Soon is Now (1984). This is a go-to Karaoke song for me, but if the crowd is too young or too top 40, they will have never heard it. Tragic!

An interesting observation about set point.

Young adults tend to stay pretty slim even if their diets aren’t ideal.

Many experts believe that this goes beyond the idea of just having a higher metabolism when a person is younger.

A younger person may have a lower weight their body likes to defend.

If they creep above this body weight, their body will respond by releasing leptin which makes them naturally crave less food. They will also gain the energy to move more, etc.

Leptin is a hormone that regulates hunger.

When it is produced, people tend to eat less, and as a result, they don’t gain weight or may even lose weight.

It is thought that in younger people, the leptin response is stronger and kicks in at a LOWER body weight.

Once someone hits middle age, all of the sudden, this leptin response kicks in at a higher body weight.

*Dramarama – Anything, Anything (1985). Just a really catchy indie rock song from the mid-80s.

This does make it seem like body weight set point is a real thing.

I believe you can reset your body weight set point by STAYING at a specific weight for a long enough period of time.

When someone gains 40 pounds and stays at that weight for a number of years… this is probably going to be their new set point.

Increasing your set point is easy.

Thank you, nachos, for your service!

Lowering your set point can be a bit of a battle.

I got up to about 225 during the first part of the pandemic.

*The Blow Monkeys – Digging Your Scene (1986). The main singer was born with a British New Wave face, you have sax, incredible backup singers, 80s glamour, etc. Perfect 80s stuff!

I got down to 200 pounds in about 6 months with a few rounds of fat loss boost.

I eased up on the diet.

I went back up to about 210 pounds and then zig-zagged around that weight for a while… I’d say that was my new set point.

Now I dip down as low as 195 and will creep back up to 205.

My body likes to be at 205 now.

I’d say that is my current set point.

*Ministry – Work for Love (1983). I frickin’ love this song and album. Ministry, The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, and New Order form the soundtrack of my teenage life in the 80s.

When I was in my 30s my set point was about 195.

I’d like to get back to this point.

I have no problem reaching that now when dieting, but I would like to make this a weight my body tends to gravitate towards.

Here’s my game plan.

Set Point Lowering Strategy
  • When intense low-calorie dieting for weight loss is a focus, reduce workout intensity but try to walk 60 minutes per day.
  • Once weight loss stalls, increase calories to maintenance levels.
  • When calories are at maintenance levels, really push the intensity and volume of the workouts. Try to defend the weight loss with exercise.
  • Whenever possible, aim for water-rich foods as they are the most filling with the fewest number of calories (my article with a list of water-rich foods to focus on).

Diet is the most important thing when it comes to weight loss.

But exercise definitely plays a role in maintaining lower weight.

Recent research has shown that exercise plays a large role when it comes to keeping weight off.

*The Cure – Sinking (1985). This was a Batcaver makeout song in the mid-80s. Put this on and make a mess out of your black clothing… but don’t even attempt to run your fingers through each other’s hair.

I like the idea of alternating periods of more intense dieting and weight loss with periods of maintenance.

First, drop weight with a hardcore focus on diet.

You will lose weight for a period of time, then weight loss slows down.

At this point, increase calories & exercise.

Maintain and “own” that new lower body weight for a period of time with a maintenance diet… and place a much heavier focus on exercise, gaining strength, improving VO2 Max, etc.

I have a course that is ideal for burning a ton of calories, increase VO2 Max and will absolutely help you stay lean when calories are increased.

Visual Impact Cardio

This is an intense 8-week session that works incredibly well if you have access to the cardio machines in a commercial gym.

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For 15 years I've helped fashion models get lean for photoshoots. Use my plan to Lose 5-10 pounds of PURE body fat in 14 days.

You can do this cardio program while dieting for rapid fat loss…

But if you combine this with a low calorie diet I recommend doing this 8-week program only 1-2 times max per year.


-Rusty Moore

As a former fitness coach to fashion models, I can teach you how to increase muscle definition without adding size.

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