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Resetting Bodyweight/Fat Level After Dieting

Hi

Iv decided to try to learn more about resetting bodyweight and fat levels after years of yo yoing .

I always paid all of my emotional energy into just fat loss and never onto holding that set point or understanding it .

I just wanted advice and some knowledge on how to do this myself as i have no idea except it can take a fairly long time for your body to adjust to the new norm.

Any help is really appreciated.

Aaron

Honestly, I don’t even know if we know precisely what leads to adjusting your body fat setpoint. Furthermore, it’s not a magic bullet either. It’s not like it prevents you from getting fat.

I’m not sure if changing your setpoint means what you think it means, or what you want it to be.

Changing your setpoint doesn’t prevent you from gaining fat. If you eat a surplus, you will gain fat.

The main effect of lowering your setpoint is lowering “unnecessary hunger/cravings”. See, the further away you are (lower) from your bodyfat set point, the more cravings you get (it has to do with both lowered leptin levels and an increase in dopamine sensitivity which increases the pleasure response to “pleasure foods”). And that’ the thing: if you are a lot lower than your setpoint, even if you eat at maintenance or a slightly surplus, you will still get these cravings, that’s why most people yo-yo when dieting.

Lowering your setpoint essentially makes it less likely that you will get these cravings, making it mentally and physically easier to feel satisfied with maintenance eating and less prone to binging.

For example if your setpoint is 20% and you are down to 10%. Your leptin will be low and your cravings will be monstruous. Food will be your main thought most of the time.

Now, if your setpoint is 12%, and you are down to 10%. It will be easy to maintain as you don’t get huge cravings and are much less likely to binge out.

Now, you might be able to handle a bit more food when your setpoint is lower, mostly carbs, because it comes with a better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. But it doesn’t turn you into one of those dudes who can eat whatever they want and stay thin.

Last year I “bulked up” to bring my squat back up to over 500lbs. I went from 210 to 231 and I gained fat just like anybody else. BUT that’s because I was forcing myself to eat. My lower setpoint made food repulsive as soon as I got significantly higher than my setpoint.

I can only speak for myself, as I don’t know many people who have successfully adjusted their set-point.

I think that I’ve done it as I can stay fairly lean (full abdominal definition) without much effort. As I said, last year I actually tried to “eat big to get stronger” and I quickly hit a point where my body simply made me hate food, past a certain body fat level, I just couldn’t eat.

Anyway, I want to start by saying that there is no pill that you can take that will automatically give you a lower set-point. I know that TC wrote about Indigo 3G helping, and it will. But it’s not a magic bullet. It does improve insulin sensitivity, which will improve nutrients partitioning (sending more of what you eat to the muscles rather than fat cells) but it’s not like you can take it, eat anything and stay lean.

From my own experience, and the few people that I’m aware of who did adjust their set-point, it is a long process and it requires a lot of discipline. So don’t look at this like “cool, once my setpoint is adjusted I’ll be able to eat whatever I want and stay lean”… you actually need to be structured and very conscious about the types of food you eat for as long as possible for the adjustment to occur.

Here’s what I think helped me the most:

  1. Time at a low body fat: The absolute most important factor when it comes to adjusting your setpoint is spending A LONG time at a low(er) body fat level. Think about it; if you spend 10 years at 20% or more, spending 2 weeks at 10% will do nothing to adjust your setpoint. You need to spend months and probably years to truly adjust your setpoint. That’s why I say it takes discipline. I personally stayed at 10% or lower for 3-4 years through not consuming a surplus for more than a few days per month. You cannot change something that was “installed” and solidified in several years by dong something different for 2-3 months.

  2. Increasing Energy Flux (G-Flux): this is a concept that originated with Dr. Berardi (you can find the articles on T-nation). It basically means having a more important energy turnaround: ingesting more energy (food, calories) BUT also expending a lot more energy. For example, let’s say that your daily energy intake is 2000kcals and your daily expenditure is 2000kcals. You are eating at maintenance because you are spending the same amount as you are ingesting. But it’s a LOW energy flux. If you ingest 3750kcals/day and spend the same 3750kcals, you are still eating at maintenance, but you now have a HIGH energy flux. There is plenty of evidence showing that this could be very helpful to reset your setpoint once you are already lean.

  3. Reduce chronic systemic inflammation: systemic inflammation has tons of negative effects. But when it comes to the topic at hand, the most important is that it reduces glucose tolerance/insulin sensitivity. This, in-turn has a negative impact on nutrients partitioning (more likely to store nutrients as fat instead of in the muscles). Processed foods are pro-inflammatory. High sugar foods are pro-inflammatory. Foods high in omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory. So you need to limit those, if not drop them completely.

Those who successfully change their setpoint are essentially people who change their lifestyle, especially their nutrition. That’s why I say that if your goal is to be able to eat whatever you want and not gain fat, you will never be able to change your setpoint as changing your setpoint requires:

  1. Avoiding all processed and high sugar foods.

  2. Eating at maintenance level for a long time, to maintain a low(er) body fat level for as long as possible. At the very least you’ll need to stay at a low(er) body far level for at least a year to have a chance at changing your setpoint.

  3. Increase the amount of calories that constitute “maintenance” by increasing daily energy expenditure by a lot.

YES supplements like Indigo 3G will help, and so will omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin for their anti-inflammatory effects. But it wont be enough if you don’t apply points 1-3 too.

I KNOW it’s not the answer you wanted to hear. But it is the correct one and now you understand why few people are successful at changing their setpoint.

It is also my belief that yoyoing makes it a lot less likely that you will successfully change your set point because the more often you do it, the more you program your body to rebound up as soon as your body fat levels get lower.

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Thankyou for the reply.

I need to work on my relationship with food I guess and try to get to a point that I’m happy with that is healthy and try to hold that for as long as possible .

Absolutely.

Because even if you successfully adjust your setpoint, if your relationship with food doesn’t improve, you’ll still go right back up.

There are several types of hunger:

  1. Mechanical hunger: when the stomach is empty and has been empty for some time

  2. Nutritional hunger: your body lacks energy/fuel or nutrients and make you crave foods to fill those needs

  3. Stress or depressive hunger: food, especially higher carbs foods, can impact hormones and neurotransmitters which can improve your mood or help you relax. For example, lowering cortisol and adrenaline (which are elevated when you are stressed out and can’t sleep) which help you relax. You can also raise dopamine (pleasure neurotransmitters) and serotonin, both of which can help reduce depressive symptoms. The body can make you crave high-carb foods when you are stressed or depressed, to try to fix the situation.

  4. Pleasure hunger: when food is one of your greatest pleasures, you will crave them when you are in a situation where you don’t have enough satisfaction elsewhere. In that regard, pleasure foods can become as addictive as smoking (both work by targeting the dopaminergic system)

  5. Boredom hunger: a lot of people get an increased desire for food when they are bored/not doing anything

Resetting your setpoint will help with type 1 hunger and potentially type 2. But if your issue are types 3-5 hunger, resetting your setpoint will not be of much help. Well, that’s not 100% true… having a lower setpoint will not erase your desire for the foods you crave, but it will likely help you abuse a little less.

I used to be a world-class binge eater. I once gained 27lbs in 6 hours. I also ate 24 burgers and 1 order of fries in one setting (could have likely had more), and could easily eat 2 dozen donuts.

But now, unless I’m preparing for a photoshoot, I still will eat pleasure foods a few times a week, I just can’t handle or desire a large amount. I’m much more easily satisfied.

To get back to our topic, as long as you don’t address problematic types 3-5 hunger you are unlikely to be able to lower your setpoint.

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I’ve had similar issues with food cravings mostly in types 3-5 hunger as CT so gracefully described.

To be honest I still do from time to time because my cortisol levels are naturally set at higher levels as a type 3 individual. I’m also somewhat of a lone wolf so it’s normal for me to experience stress, pleasure or boredom hunger from time to time, especially when I’m cutting for longer than 8 weeks.

What helped me out a lot was this great tip from Greg Doucette. Normally I would not refer to this guy because even though he’s an experienced IFBB pro, he remains somewhat general in his advice when it comes to training.

When it comes to handling food however, I have learned a very simple trick from him to keep hunger issues at bay: low calorie dense foods.

Adding more fruits, vegetables, high fiber food sources in your diet alongside your protein and fat needs does a great deal for numbing those cravings because you can add a lot of volume to your meals. The reason being that most fruits and vegetables are high fiber, low calorie food sources with high nutrient density. Take strawberries and spinach for example, you can eat a ton of those for low calorie return and they are very filling.

Not to mention the tremendous health benefits you’ll get from increased micronutrient intake like added vitamins, minerals and the often overlooked but very crucial phytonutrients that add loads of much needed antioxidants to your diet.

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Hey Lou, I don’t have much to add to your post here, but I’ve used this resource from time to time - specifically for the reasons you described here. The Satiety Index helps show what foods you will be most satiated from eating.
http://ernaehrungsdenkwerkstatt.de/fileadmin/user_upload/EDWText/TextElemente/Ernaehrungswissenschaft/Naehrstoffe/Saettigung_Lebensmittel_Satiety_Index.pdf
This study also directly states that high fiber foods tend to be the most filling with the least calories, as you said.

Great post! I just thought this is pertinent to the discussion.

I don’t have enough time to read the whole study right now but I’ll be looking into it later for sure.

From what I can see in the results at first sight, I’m inclined to agree. Potatoes are definitely king when it comes to carb sources. You can enjoy those babies boiled or oven baked. The boiled version is the most filling but it also gets a bit boring after a while.

I tend to switch between sweet potatoes and white/purple/red potatoes to keep things interesting. Crackers made from chickpeas are also very underrated. They are high in fiber, volume and protein which is a perfect satiety bomb.

Last but not least I cycle in some fruits (mostly apples or pears because they are still in season in Belgium and these fruits are at the top of the list for satiety) with my main meals as a carb rich starch substitute and I use either grade C maple syrup or wild honey as a topping. With potatoes or crackers I use low calorie sauces like ketchup, bbq sauce or mustard.

I’ve been cycling these foods for years now and it works great. I also noticed the natural tendency to increase physical activity because your energy status is so optimized from all that nutrient rich food.

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Thankyou for your time .
I would definitely say I’m in the 3-5 categories especially if I’m not in the zone .

Thankyou again Aaron