What is the Set Point Theory?

A silhouette shot of two men jogging before sunset


The set point theory proposes that each person has an ideal weight range predetermined genetically representing a point of equilibrium where the brain maintains calorie intake and energy expenditure.


  • Set point theory claims the body resists significant weight loss or gain by adjusting appetite and metabolic rate to remain in the set range.
  • Supposed set point changes mean your body now “wants” to be at a higher weight – so that regaining lost pounds or failure to lose is inevitable.
  • In reality, the body does not fight weight changes long-term but may compensate briefly. Set points can be reset through habit change.
  • Focus on building healthy habits with realistic calorie targets and activity levels rather than perception of an unchangeable set point.


  • Believing it’s impossible to lose weight because your set point increased.
  • Feeling that you will inevitably rebound back to a higher set weight.

Related Terms

  • Weight loss resistance, weight loss plateau, metabolic adaptation

Common Questions

  • Does the set point impact my willpower? No, but habits and environment matter more than willpower for lasting change.
  • Can set points be lowered? Yes, through sustained lifestyle changes and avoiding crash diets that may temporarily raise them.

Do Not Confuse With

  • Homeostasis – The body’s natural tendency toward equilibrium that impacts set point theory.
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