ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Boost my Metabolism: Examining the Set-Point Hypothesis

Updated on December 16, 2012

We all know that our body weight is determined by the amount of calories we consume compared to the amount our body expends for metabolic function and physical activity. So, why is it that two people of the same gender, age, and activity level can eat vastly different amounts of food and weigh about the same?

Is it hard to lose weight below your set-point?
Is it hard to lose weight below your set-point? | Source

The Set-Point Hypothesis

A large part of the answer has to do with our set-point. Richard Keesey defined this concept as our body's thermostat that continuously adjusts our metabolism and eating to maintain our weight within a genetically determined range, or set-point.

Since the release of this hypothesis, many researchers have tried to prove or disprove the concept, but biological studies continuously prove the hypothesis to be correct.

For instance, voluntary semi-starvation and over-eating studies have produced the same results: Initially, when we reduce or increase our caloric intake, the change in weight is rapid. But, as the dieting or over-eating continues, the weight loss or gain slows, since our body adjusts our metabolic rate, attempting to maintain our set-point.

BMR

Our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories our body needs to maintain basic functions while at rest. Our BMR is affected by six factors that contribute to our set-point:

  • Heredity: Some people have a naturally higher metabolic rate than others, even when they're sleeping.
  • Stress: Stress can raise our BMR by flooding our bloodstream with norepinephrine and epinephrine. However, our body also releases Cortisol, which can lead to increases in belly fat and related illnesses. See: How Does Stress Affect Your Health?
  • Age and Activity Level: Younger people generally have higher BMRs than older people who are more sedentary.
  • Fat vs Muscle: Fat tissue has a lower metabolic rate (burns fewer calories) than muscle does.
  • Gender: Because men have proportionally more muscle, they tend to burn 10-20% more calories at rest than women do.
  • Body Surface Area: As the ratio of body surface area to body volume increases, heat loss to the environment increases and our metabolic rate has to rise to replace the lost heat. So, if two people weigh the same, the taller person will have a higher BMR.

BMR Hormones: Leptin and Thyroxine

Leptin

Discovery of the hormone leptin renewed support for the set-point theory. If our body's set-point acts like a thermostat, leptin seems to act as our thermometer. Normally, if we gain weight, our body produces more leptin, which shuts down our appetite, increases our energy output, and triggers other mechanisms that help restore our body to its set-point.

That's why fasts are not advantageous for weight loss. In one study, leptin levels in mice dropped 40% after a 3-day fast and 80% after a 6-day fast.

Thyroxine

Our BMR is also greatly affected by how much thyroxine our thyroid gland produces. Thyroxine has been dubbed the "metabolic hormone." Within our cells, it increases our oxygen consumption and heat production, thereby increasing our metabolism.

Perhaps our future will hold the cure for some types of obesity through manipulation of these hormones.

TMR

Our Total Metabolic Rate (TMR) is one aspect of our metabolism that we can change. TMR is the rate of calorie intake we need to fuel all activity - voluntary and involuntary. Our TMR is largely made up of our BMR, but voluntary muscle activity, light or heavy, causes great leaps in our TMR and heat production. Food-induced thermogenesis (when we eat) also increases our TMR, especially when we consume protein or alcohol, probably because of the extra work our liver has to perform during these times.

In contrast, fasting or severe calorie restriction results in a drastic depression of our TMR, resulting in our body not breaking down our fat reserves.

Develop muscle and reduce stress
Develop muscle and reduce stress | Source

Changing our Metabolism

In the meantime, although our set-point remains the same, we can adjust our TMR with continuous, long-term lifestyle changes.

Based on the factors listed above, we can't change our genetics or our gender, but we can reduce our stress levels, develop more muscle, increase our activity level, and, contrary to wide-spread weight loss plans, due to our set-point, we need to eat healthy meals without cutting calories drastically, which would only slow our metabolism. See: How to Lose Weight by Adding, Not Restricting.

Are you satisfied with your set-point?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)