For those that struggle with obesity, diet and exercise are often not enough. Studies have shown that there is as much as a 95% failure rate in those trying to lose weight through lifestyle changes alone. This high failure rate is due to numerous factors, including:
- Failing to address the root of the weight gain.
- Difficulty in adhering to diet and exercise guidelines.
- Health issues that prevent exercise.
But perhaps one of the greatest challenges standing in the way of weight loss is the individual’s “Set Point.”
What is a Set Point?
Studies have shown that a person’s weight has a natural “Set Point” caused by genetics. When you eat less food, and your weight starts to go below that set point, your body goes into “Starvation Mode” and slows down your metabolism and increases your fat storage so that you can avoid going much lower.
Extensive diet and exercise can still promote excess weight loss even with a set point. But the other problem with a set the point is that, unless you diet and exercise frequently and consistently, your body will respond to any lapses in diet or activities by keeping your metabolism slow until your weight goes back to the “set level.”
Your set point is usually formed by genetics, among a few other factors, and for those of a healthy weight, the set point is not easily changed. But an unhealthy diet, a lack of movement/exercise, a lack of sleep, and many other factors can have a profound effect on your body chemistry, and unfortunately, over time can reset your set point to a greater weight. This is one of the main reasons that diet and exercise fail.
Bariatric Surgery Provides a Better Reset
It’s not clear why obesity can re-set your weight set point while weight loss struggles. But those that have had trouble losing weight may want to consider bariatric surgery. For those that combine bariatric surgery with diet and exercise, there appears to be evidence that bariatric surgery helps your body gain a new stable mass set point – one that allows you to lose weight quickly and safely, without putting your body into starvation mode.
Bariatric surgery makes it possible to get another lower-weight set point, providing it is met with healthy lifestyle changes.
How Does Weight Loss Surgery Affect Set Point?
The exact mechanism for why weight loss surgery can provide a new body mass set point is not entirely clear. But it may be related to original signals. Researchers believe that it’s not just genetics, but also signals from within your body that tell it if you’re eating, how much you’re eating, whether you are starving, and more. It’s possible that due to changes in diet, nutrients, ghrelin (hunger) hormone, and other sensors tell your body that you’re eating the amount you’re supposed to.
While it’s not clear what causes this reaction to occur, what is clear is that weight loss surgery is one of the only successful ways to lose a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time and keep the weight off for years to come.