Why does the weight stop reducing? – Assessing the set point theory

Just while you were doing fine, reducing your weight as per plan, you realise the numbers suddenly remain the same on your weighing scale. Most weight losers, especially those who have more than 10 % of their weight to lose and are on an extended weight loss process, experience this frustration.

Conserving calories
Our body has a complex mechanism by which it conserves energy as against losing energy. This is its primary response to reduced food intake or when one goes on a diet. The body as a machine is more efficient in saving energy than losing it. This explains the difficulty in losing weight.

The set point theory
It is believed that everyone has their own thermostat or set point for weight loss, beyond which the body refuses stubbornly to give up any more of its fat deposit. Thus, some individuals lose faster and some do not depending on their high or low set points.

What to do to continue losing weight?

Physical activity
When one reaches a weight plateau, the best strategy to be tried is increasing physical activity as this will help increase the body’s metabolic rate and therefore burn calories. Any of the following approaches may help:
1. If you are not already on an exercise program, then it is time to add it to your weight loss process.
2. If you are exercising daily, then increase the duration of activity. If you do not have the time to do one straight session, then split the exercise program to twice a day.
3. If you exercise only a few times a week, then either increase the duration at each session or start exercising daily if your lifestyle can accommodate this.
4. Try changing the kind of exercise. Perhaps, you can add resistance exercises to your aerobics. Our body conserves energy when it has been trained on one type of exercise for a while. So, it is a good idea to change your exercise plan, for instance, if you walk now, then start jogging.
5. Have you had a busy social life causing your normal exercise routine to take a backseat? If so, get back on track.

Also read: 5 super quick weight loss tips

Eating habits
If you have been on a diet program for a while, then it is time to reassess your food intake. Over the period of time perhaps, the initial food control or eating awareness may have waned and some unhealthy behaviours may have been unconsciously added.
1. Write down all that you eat in a day and recheck to see what is extra on this from your initial diet plan. Is there something that you are eating beyond the diet plan?
2. Take a look at the amount of oil used in cooking and see if the allowance is strictly adhered to. If not, cut down.
3. Have you been socialising more of late? If s,o this could be a reason for added calories that have nulled your caloric deficit.
4. Perhaps your solid food intake is fine but you have added some extra beverages daily to your eating. Or you are eating an extra snack.
5. Get the help of a dietician to reassess your diet if you are not able to figure out your lapses. Further caloric reduction will help you continue losing weight.

Reset your weight loss goals. If the purpose of reducing weight was to control your high blood pressure or diabetes, then, the weight at which these stay under control may be your desirable weight. Focus on maintaining this weight rather than aiming for an ideal weight as per the book.

Parvathy R Krishnan

The author is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert with over 20 years’ of experience in hospitals like Vijaya Hospital in Chennai and the Armed Forces Hospital and New Mowasat Hospitals in Kuwait. She is presently a member of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at http://premadiet.blogspot.in/

More by this author:

How to reduce weight with your own diet

Spacing carbs and meals for better glycemic control