If you’ve ever felt like your body is hovering around a certain number on the scale – no matter how much you clean up your diet or step up your workouts – it’s not all in your head. When it comes to weight loss, this is known as the set point theory.” It suggests that your body will fight to maintain a specific weight and body fat range, tightly controlled by your genetics, and you have little control over it,” explains Ryan Maciel, RD, a certified strength and conditioning specialist based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Set-point weight may be the result of evolution. Wanting to maintain excess fuel may have helped our ancestors stay protected from famine. But it could also boil down to the body’s simple design mechanisms that aren’t easily changed, notes Maciel. your body struggles to maintain a stable internal environment, which means it’s constantly adjusting hormone levels, temperature, energy levels, and more. So, just as your body starts to sweat to cool you down (in a sauna or during a cold-weather run), it may also start to stay fueled as you cut calories and work out harder.
However, “while you may be born with an upper and lower set range of weight, you have the ability to shift where you end up,” says Maciel. Here, there are eight ways to get started.
1AIM TO LOSE A HALF -POUND TO A POUND A WEEK (lose half a pound).
Fad diets that promise quick fixes aren’t just uncomfortable and unsustainable – they’re built on the opposite.” In general, the quicker or more drastic the change you make, the more your body wants to fight back,” explains weight loss expert Dr. Charlie Seltzer. To prevent this from happening, Seltzer recommends setting a goal of losing half a pound a week.” If your body is getting the food it needs to function, or just a little bit less than it’s used to, it will be more willing to release extra energy [to burn fat],” he explains. Not only will this help you lose weight, but you’ll be more likely to keep it off for the long haul.
2 Follow the 5-10% rule
“Studies have shown that losing 5-10% of your total body weight at a time is a smart approach,” says Maciel.” Supposedly, losing more than 10 percent of your body weight can cause the body to fight back, making it more difficult to maintain weight loss.”
3 Trying to lose weight in stages
For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, set this 5 percent goal and then try to maintain your new weight for six months before starting another weight-loss cycle, Maciel suggests.” This will allow your body to adjust to the new weight and give you a mental break from dieting.”
Once you’ve maintained a steady weight for six months, work on losing the rest of your weight. While this process takes time, “if you want to maintain your weight loss, you must learn and adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits for the rest of your life,” says Maciel.
4 Keep a food log
Tracking what you eat is a proven strategy for successful weight loss. While monitoring calories can help you see if you’re overeating, it’s also a good idea to look at your macronutrient breakdown, says Seltzer, who adds that most people don’t get enough protein.” Find ways to increase your protein, so your body spends more energy digesting it compared to calories from fat and carbs.”
5 Consider PROBIOTICS
Changing your gut bacteria may help with weight loss efforts and set point weight, Seltzer notes. A recent review of research published in Obesity Reviews found that supplementing with probiotics helps slightly reduce weight and fat percentage. If you’re considering supplementing or eating more probiotic-rich foods, talk to an RD or your doctor first to see how it fits into your goals.
Also, Seltzer recommends cutting back on artificial sweeteners (used in diet sodas and processed foods), as research shows they can harm good gut bacteria.
6 Increase Your “Pros”
Believe it or not, the number of calories you burn during exercise is relatively small compared to the number of calories we burn through everyday activities, such as putting away groceries, taking out the trash or just sitting around, says Katie Rickel, PhD, a clinical psychologist and CEO of Structure House, a residential weight management organization in Durham, North Carolina. This moment-to-moment calorie expenditure is known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). When you’re losing weight (and taking in fewer calories), you tend to subconsciously reduce activity because your body wants to conserve energy and maintain your weight. The solution. Add more NEAT to your life by taking the stairs, working at a standing desk, tending to your garden instead, and cleaning up around your house when you have down time.
7 Increase Strength Training (STRENGTH TRAINING)
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body burns at rest (i.e., when you’re just sitting and breathing or sleeping). One way to shift your weight into a healthier range, says Rickel, is to increase your BMR.Here, body composition is key. Since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, the goal is to preserve (if not increase) your muscle mass by doing compound exercises (working multiple muscle groups at once), such as squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups, suggests Maciel.What’s more, recent studies have shown that both low loads (25-35 reps) and high loads (8-12 reps) are effective at increasing muscle mass.
8 Set your sleep schedule
“Appetite is a basic bodily function that can’t always be controlled with willpower,” Dr. Ethan Lazarus, president-elect of the Obesity Medicine Association, says.Dr. Lazarus says that quality sleep helps optimize hormone balance and supports your weight loss efforts, which makes getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night an important part of lean body mass. In particular, “when you sleep, your body produces more leptin, a hormone that helps control your appetite,” he explains. When you’re sleep-deprived, levels of leptin may drop, while levels of ghrelin (a hormone that makes you feel hungry) may spike, potentially leading to cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods and overeating.
Having a nightly routine to relax at the end of the day can help prepare your body for a good night’s rest. It’s also important to “go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning to help regulate your hormones,” says Lazarus.