Set-point weight #1: what even is set-point weight?!

16 Aug 2019

Put simply set-point weight is the weight that your body will be at when you’re eating a wide variety of a balance of foods and taking part in enjoyable, life-enhancing exercise. It’s the weight that your body naturally wants to be at, without you even having to think about it. This is largely determined by our genetics and is the weight that our body really wants to be, no matter whether that looks like the socially accepted version of a body or not. When I think about my own body I don’t have the same shape as my mum, sister or grandma but I look exactly like my grandpa’s sister – genetics huh, kind of cool, can’t escape it! We’re a diverse population, for the most part we accept that but what we don’t accept is the diversity in our bodies.

Contradictory to what we’re told by the Government, bloggers, friends, family, colleagues at work you do not have to manage your weight. Your body is perfectly capable of working out where it should be if you just nourish it well and move it kindly. 

Most people find the idea of intuitive eating easy to take, in theory. But when the concept unveils itself and the scary notion of giving yourself unconditional permission to eat ANY food is revealed, many clam up and are turned off. This has (I’d say anyway) a big part to do with our weight. It’s terrifying thinking of what will happen to our weight if we let ourselves eat WHATEVER we want. We’ll just eat and eat and eat until we weigh more than we’ve ever weighed in our lives, right? 

Wrong. This is a common misconception about our weight, in fact it’s the constant restriction and deprivation which means that our weights (on average) keep on increasing the more that we diet. Think about it, humans (well, homo sapiens) have been around for roughly 350,000 years. Through these years and years we have been naturally selected for our ability to not perish the minute we don’t have enough food to eat. 

We're the ones whose bodies are specially adapted to turn down metabolic processes, so using up less calories, and extracting calories more efficiently from food when we don’t have enough to eat. But when we consciously control and restrict what we do our body responds the same way it would if we were actually starving. Our bodies don’t know that we’re doing this to ourselves!


Our bodies will continue to fight until they get back to our set-point weight. In many cases the reason that one of the only assured outcomes of dieting is long term weight gain is because our set-point weight cannot go down, but it CAN go up! When we spend a long time restricting our food intake our body responds with “shit, we’re in a bit of trouble here… I’d better increase my set-point weight so that when I do get food again I have some extra reserve... man I’m hungry”. This is genuinely what happens and is the main reason why serial dieters often end up heavier than they were when they started dieting!

Actually being at your set-point weight – which by the way will still fluctuate day-to-day between 5-10kg due to daily hormonal and other physiological changes – is entirely effortless to maintain.

Let’s say that again… being at your set-point weight is effortless to maintain!!! I’ll explain more about how you’ll know if you’re at your set-point weight in part 2.

And just fyi...

This is a great video explaining, with the help of a kettle (why not?!) how fighting against your set-point weight can be detrimental.