Plateau From Hell: Battling My Body’s Set Weight Point

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weekly weigh in april 30

Not the progress I was expecting this week. I’m up a pound. Time to rethink my tactics.

Bleh! I was expecting a loss this week and instead I’m up a pound. What’s really frustrating is I’ve been bouncing between 182-185 pounds for a year. One. Freaking. Year.

Rethinking Tactics
I recently finished reading The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. Regular readers know I love Dr. Fung’s blog and his online lectures. A review of his book is coming soon (hint, you should read it!), but right now I’m looking at shaking up my intermittent fasting tactics for one simple reason — changing my body’s set weight point.

It’s believed that our bodies have a set weight point. When a healthy person’s weight goes above or below that set weight, the body compensates — slowing or raising metabolism, increasing hunger or satiety hormones — and works to get back to that person’s set weight point.

Body Set-Weight Point and Settling Points
But what happens if you’ve been unhealthy for years? Because I was overweight for decades (and obese for 10 of those years), my insulin resistance pushed my set point upward to help my body compensate for my bad diet.

This is why Weight Watchers didn’t work for me. I’d lose weight, but always felt hungry and cold. My body didn’t want me to lose the weight. So it dropped my metabolism as I cut back on calories. If that didn’t work then my body released more hunger hormones. Eventually, I’d hit a plateau that I couldn’t get past except by cutting calories again. And my body matched that cut. Then I’d give up, eat, and regain the weight.

Once I switched to eating low carb high fat (LCHF) foods, I lost weight by eating more food (so I never felt hungry). That’s because eating LCHF foods lowered my blood sugar and insulin levels. So my body’s set point resettled lower and lower. When a plateau hit (my body’s efforts to keep me at the new settled weight point), I’d just tweak my LCHF diet. Boom, plateau gone and my body re-settled on a new set point.

While eating LCHF foods certainly improved my insulin resistance, it didn’t cure it. That’s where fasting comes in.

If you don’t eat, your body isn’t flooded with insulin, thus allowing cell receptors that were ignoring insulin to begin healing.

On most days, I do an 18 hour intermittent fast — I don’t eat after dinner until noon the next day.  I also toss in the occasional 24 hour fast.  But to really break my insulin resistance, I need to look at regular 24 hour to 36 hour fasting. And, given the years of insulin resistance, I’m considering a 7-day fast later this summer (but I really have to work up to that).

So after dinner tonight (Tuesday) my next meal won’t be until 36 hours later — breakfast Thursday morning. 

The good news is that fasting isn’t a fad. It’s an ancient remedy used for thousands of years. While I know it my not “cure” my insulin resistance (after all, we’re talking about decades of poor eating), I’m hopeful to resettle my set weight point to something closer to 150 to 160 pounds.  And it certainly would kick my butt into ketosis.

Of course this could go all out the window depending on how my IVF treatments go.

3 thoughts on “Plateau From Hell: Battling My Body’s Set Weight Point

  1. I found your post by an internet search on changing your set point. I too have been doing HF/LC and IF. This post makes me feel hopeful that you think it’s possible to actually change the body’s set point. That is the biggest question I’ve had.

    Like you, I did calorie restriction before and lost weight only to be hungry and cold and later gain most of it back. I like the IF, but really hope it is possible to actually change my set point. I do find that the longer I have been doing IF (16 hours fast/8 hours feed; occasional 24 hour fast), the more I am starting to get really hungry and my body seems to be resisting the weight loss. This worries me, yet it has still been easier than just calorie restriction.

    • Jeff thanks for the note. I suggest you check out Dr. Jason Fung’s blog, YouTube lectures or read his book The Obesity Code. He gets into the science of fasting and the how to’s. You may be doing what I did when I started IF. Yes I get hungry, but it isn’t lasting. For me the hunger goes away with either a drink (water, green tea or bone broth for me) or via getting busy (I really was surprise how “easy” a fast is when you are super busy). However, what I wasn’t doing was getting enough food the day before a fast.

      Once I switched it up (cut out snacking and eat more fat at meals) that helped me move to 36 hour fasting. Also Fung talks about the first couple of days of a fast are the hardest because your body is making the switch from running on glucose to ketones. To me the hunger is another symptom of the “low carb flu.”

      But yes, Fung’s theory in insulin resistance raising and resetting the body’s set weight point and fasting is how to reset it is a theory but the science around it is very compelling.

      Good luck with your efforts! And please let me know how it’s going.

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