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How to Determine a Weight Set Point

by
author image Shannon Hyland-Tassava
Shannon Hyland-Tassava has more than 16 years experience as a clinical health psychologist, wellness coach and writer. She is a health columnist for the "Northfield (Minn.) News" and has also contributed to "Motherwords," "Macalester Today" and two essay anthologies, among other publications. Hyland-Tassava holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois.
How to Determine a Weight Set Point
Weight is affected by genetics and body type, in addition to behavior. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Many people have experienced the frustration of watching the numbers on the scale go down only to creep back up over time. The natural tendency of your body is to defend a weight that feels biologically comfortable, which makes weight change tough for many. This notion is referred to as "set point." Your set point is the weight your body naturally maintains and returns to after a period of restrictive or overindulgent eating. Your weight set point is influenced by genetics and biological tendencies, but it can be altered by activity and behavior.

Step 1

Avoid overly restrictive diets. Severely limiting your calorie intake will slow down your metabolism, interfering with your body's natural set point and potentially making weight gain more likely in the future. The best way to maintain a healthy metabolism and determine the weight that's right for your body is to eat a nutritious diet that provides sufficient calories and energy.

Step 2

Get regular exercise. Healthy physical activity is just as important as good nutrition in honoring your body's natural weight. When you pair regular exercise with an appropriate, healthy diet, the weight you maintain is likely the set point at which your body is healthiest and feels most comfortable.

Step 3

Calculate your body mass index, and discuss your BMI level with your physician. Body mass index is a measurement of weight, according to height, and is used by medical professionals to gauge healthy weight. BMI calculators are widely available online, or your doctor can calculate yours for you. A BMI between 18.5 and 25 is considered ideal, with a number lower than 18.5 being underweight and over 25 being overweight. If your BMI is unhealthy, despite a nutritious diet and regular exercise, consult your physician to determine how to adjust your set point to achieve a healthy weight.

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