You’re doing it! You’re reducing your calorie consumption. You’re exercising. And but, your scale doesn’t appear to need to acknowledge your onerous work. Or possibly it did for some time. But now your weight has stayed regular regardless of your greatest efforts. Or much more irritating — it’s creeping again up. 

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit tutorial medical heart. Advertising on our website helps assist our mission. We don’t endorse non-Cleveland Clinic services or products. Policy

It’s an all-too-common situation. But you’re not alone. And it’s not your fault. 

“People used to think that if you increase your exercise, or cut your food intake, you’re going to lose weight,” says endocrinologist and weight problems specialist Marcio Griebeler, MD. “But obesity is a disease. It is a physiologic dysfunction. In a variety of ways, your body will work to defend itself and keep you from losing weight.” 

But … why? And what are you able to do about it? We talked with Dr. Griebeler about set level principle — the concept that explains why your weight might not change a lot even while you’re weight-reduction plan and exercising. Read on for tips to get to a more healthy weight vary, even when your physique desires to combat you each step of the way in which. 

The reality about weight problems 

Obesity isn’t only a quantity on a scale or a measurement of your body mass index (BMI). Instead, these numbers are signs — indications of one thing extra difficult than weight alone.  

Think of it like this: Your cough could also be a symptom of a chilly. But a chilly is greater than a cough, it’s an higher respiratory an infection that will even be inflicting your runny nostril, fatigue and so forth. 

The similar is true of obesity. Your BMI is an indication of weight problems, however weight problems itself is a persistent situation that impacts the way in which your physique features in a variety of how.  

Dr. Griebeler says that while you’re residing with weight problems, it adjustments the way in which your physique features. It adjustments the way in which you metabolize meals. It adjustments your hormonal perform. It places you in danger for situations like:  

Obesity is outlined as a BMI of 30 or better. BMI is a calculation that takes under consideration your top and weight as a sign of whether or not your weight is placing you in danger for well being issues. And whereas well being researchers and practitioners agree that BMI is a slightly crude methodology of understanding your well being and danger, it’s one of the best indication now we have right now.  

“BMI is an easy calculation, and it gives us a good idea of whether a person is at risk of obesity and related conditions, but it’s far from a perfect indication of your overall health,” Dr. Griebeler states. 

What is about level principle? 

If you’re residing with weight problems, you recognize that reducing weight — and sustaining weight reduction — generally is a monumental problem.

Set level principle is a scientific clarification for that phenomenon. It says that your physique mounts a protection to maintain you from reducing weight. The concept is mainly that your physique fights tooth and nail to maintain weight on. And it thinks it’s doing you a favor. 

“What we see all the time is that people will change their diet and exercise to lose weight, and maybe they will lose some weight at first. But then their weight will hit a plateau and get stuck there,” Dr. Griebeler says. “That’s because there’s a difference between losing weight and changing your set point. If you’re going to have lasting weight loss, you need to change the set point.” (And that’s potential. More on that later.) 

How your physique reacts to weight reduction  

Diet and train are speculated to be the trail to attending to a wholesome weight, proper? At least that’s what everybody appears to say. So, why aren’t you getting outcomes? 

The challenge is that your physique doesn’t need to hand over the load. And it has some built-in protection mechanisms to maintain you at your set level. 

As you’re employed to shed some pounds, your physique reacts by releasing extra ghrelin hormones. Those are those that make you’re feeling hungry. And it sends out much less of the leptin hormone (the one which makes you’re feeling full).  

So, it’s not simply in your head. As you weight loss plan, the very inside workings of your physique are conspiring to make you’re feeling like it’s worthwhile to eat extra. 

“Fighting back against those hormones is very difficult,” Dr. Griebeler notes. “The hunger you feel isn’t an indication that you’re lacking in willpower. It’s a hormonal change that makes it very difficult for you to stick to your diet in the long term.” 

In addition to hormonal adjustments, weight-reduction plan adjustments the way in which your physique metabolizes your meals. 

“When you lose weight, you start by losing fat,” Dr. Griebeler explains. “But when you have less fat, you burn fewer calories. It’s a vicious cycle.” 

What’s extra is that while you limit energy, you’ll be able to start to lose muscle mass, which is also counterproductive. Muscle burns energy quicker than fats.

So now, for all of your onerous work, what do you need to present? You have much less fats and fewer muscle, all of which suggests much less alternative to burn off energy. 

Set level and evolution 

There’s a way to this insanity. Your set level is an evolutionary adaptation that’s making an attempt to maintain you wholesome … it’s simply not very helpful to us today. 

“Every time there’s an opportunity, your body will try to defend you from losing weight because it’s trying to protect you from starvation,” Dr. Griebeler says.   

In phrases of human evolution, hunger was one of many biggest threats to humanity because the starting. For more often than not that individuals have been on Earth, meals hasn’t been as accessible as it’s right now. (Of course, it’s nonetheless true that in lots of locations, entry to meals — particularly to nutritious meals — stays an enormous barrier. But today, most of our dinner plans don’t revolve round searching buffalo and gathering berries in the way in which our early ancestors did.) 

So, our our bodies tailored to guard us from the specter of hunger. Our evolution created pathways to make sure that when our caloric consumption drops from the extent our our bodies are accustomed to, we might proceed to perform by holding on to the energy we’re taking in.  

That evolution was important to our survival again within the days after we relied on a bountiful crop to final via an extended winter. It’s a lot much less useful in a contemporary world of supermarkets and comfort meals.  

We developed a set level to fend off hunger, which means your physique will work to maintain you at or near your weight at its greater level. It gained’t hold you from gaining weight within the first place. 

How to get to a wholesome weight 

So, the query turns into: If you’re making an attempt to shed some pounds, how do you overcome an evolutionary adaptation that wishes you to carry on to each pound?  

“We have to remember that your body reacts and will behave differently on the journey to weight loss. That’s not a surprise,” Dr. Griebeler says. “But it is really frustrating for people when they hit those weight-loss plateaus and their methods for weight loss aren’t showing them results anymore.” 

He provides that whereas weight loss plan and train alone might not be sufficient, they’re nonetheless an essential a part of the equation. 

Changing your set level   

You in all probability already know that reducing weight is a matter of reducing your calorie consumption and getting extra train. Check. 

But altering your set level to handle your weight for the long run is extra difficult.  

In order to attain long-term weight reduction, it’s worthwhile to persuade your physique that you just’re secure and wholesome at a decrease weight. 

The excellent news is that it’s potential to vary your set level, particularly in case your healthcare supplier, ideally an weight problems specialist, is in your facet.

“Working with a provider can help you to gain perspective on why your weight is plateauing,” Dr. Griebeler says. “They can also help you find solutions to change your set point so you find lasting effects.” 

What does it take to vary your set level? Dr. Griebeler helps break it down. 


We know, we all know — weight-reduction plan isn’t working. We get it. But as a way to change your set level, what you eat continues to be one slice of the metaphorical pie. 

The secret’s that you need to be consuming nutritious meals — like lean proteins and plenty of fruits and veggies. The Mediterranean diet is an efficient selection. But don’t restrict your caloric consumption an excessive amount of too quick.  

Remember, your set level kicks in to maintain you from ravenous. So, in case you hyper-restrict your weight loss plan, your physique goes to assume you’re in peril and can ship within the starvation hormones to attempt to combat in opposition to it. 


Again, you already know that train is essential. You’ve heard that earlier than. Too many instances in all probability.  

But train continues to be essential to vary your set level. And the form of train issues. 

“When you exercise, you burn calories, of course, but also, there is a potential for muscle mass preservation and to gain muscle mass,” Dr. Griebeler explains. “Preserving and adding muscle mass will change your metabolic rate and help change your set point.” 

That’s as a result of muscle burns energy quicker than fats does. So, extra muscle mass will aid you overcome the weight-loss plateau and decrease your set level. Strength-training workouts like lifting weights, Pilates and kettlebell coaching could be particularly helpful. 

You might discover that your BMI can keep flat and even notch up a bit as you achieve muscle. That’s OK. 

Muscle weighs greater than fats, so gaining muscle might naturally increase your BMI, nevertheless it’s more healthy on your physique to switch fats cells with muscle, even when the dimensions says in any other case.  

“People may feel frustrated when they’re not seeing weight loss, but when you’re changing your body composition to be more muscular, that’s success,” reassures Dr. Griebeler. “Even if you’re maintaining your weight, if that weight is a reflection of gaining muscle, that’s fantastic.” 


In our busy lives, it’s simple to miss the significance of getting good sleep. More than an opportunity to let your thoughts clock out for a couple of hours, sleep is an integral a part of a wholesome life-style.  

In phrases of its influence in your set level, sleep is essential for hormone regulation. Research exhibits that not getting sufficient sleep is related to extra starvation hormones and fewer of these “full” hormones. Keeping an everyday sleep schedule, about eight hours per evening for many adults, might help hold these hormones in verify and reset your set level. 

Stress administration 

Similar to the results of sleep deprivation, residing with a excessive degree of stress does a quantity on the hormones that regulate your urge for food. 

Keeping your stress at a manageable degree, via strategies like meditation, deep respiration and yoga (additionally an important train on your physique) might help decrease your set level and enhance your high quality of life. Win-win! 

Anti-obesity treatment 

Dr. Griebeler says anti-obesity treatment is confirmed that can assist you shed some pounds and decrease your set level.  

Anti-obesity medicines work by making you’re feeling fuller sooner or reducing your urge for food. These medicines should be prescribed by a healthcare supplier who ought to oversee their use.  

While utilizing anti-obesity treatment, you’ll must nonetheless follow a wholesome life-style that features wholesome consuming, train, sleep and stress administration. Consider the treatment a complement to these methods. It’s essential to maintain up different wholesome habits to maintain your weight reduction within the lengthy haul and hold your set level at a decrease degree. 

Bariatric surgical procedure  

Bariatric and metabolic surgical procedure (generally known as “weight loss surgery”) has been round because the Seventies and is obtainable to lots of people residing with weight problems.  

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO) are the main authorities on bariatric surgical procedure. Their analysis exhibits that individuals who endure bariatric and metabolic surgical procedure see “significant improvement in metabolic disease.” In different phrases, the surgical procedure can work to decrease your set level.  

Just as with anti-obesity treatment, individuals who have bariatric surgical procedure must proceed to apply wholesome habits as a way to hold their set level at a decrease degree. 

If you’re residing with weight problems and aren’t seeing lasting outcomes out of your efforts at weight reduction, strive to not be too onerous on your self. It’s undoubtedly irritating to not see your efforts repay. But know that you just’re doing one of the best you’ll be able to and that assist is obtainable. Talk with a healthcare supplier or weight problems specialist to raised perceive how one can reset your set level.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *