Do you know your calorie setpoint?

by Christine on March 1st, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Exercise

Good morning Revolutionists!

Yesterday I sat down and tracked all my food intake that I consumed over the weekend, and I was surprised that I was within 10 calories all three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).  My average was about 910 calories. I know I have mentioned this a thousand times before on my blog, but let me say it again: if you are trying to lose weight, it’s incredibly important to track all your food consumption, every day. You can identify trends, areas of weakness, analyze your food types, pinpoint times of day that you have problems, etc. I have been journaling my food for years—at this point it comes naturally to me, and that’s probably why all three days were essentially the same calories without even trying.

Now that I have entered into “Weight Maintenance Mode (WMM),” I am trying to learn what it takes to successfully maintain my weight. It’s a very different mindset than trying to lose weight, and it’s hard because I don’t necessarily know what the secret ingredient is to ensure that I don’t put the weight back on.

For instance, I learned that for my body, I lost weight slowly but steadily when I ate approximately 800 calories per day. Previously, I know that my “Calorie Setpoint” (the calories you need to maintain your weight) was around 1000 calories. However, I’ve lost over 100 pounds, so it’s only natural to assume that my Calorie Setpoint has been lowered.

I’ve maintained my current weight for a few weeks now, and if I’m eating 910 calories a day, I think it’s fair to assume that 910 calories is my new Calorie Setpoint. This surprises me that my setpoint has gone down as low as it has. I think part of the reason for that is that I have not been exercising very much in the last two months, thereby lowering my metabolism and also requiring less food to keep my body fueled.

Why is it so important to know your body’s Calorie Setpoint? Well, if you are trying to lose weight, if you know what your Setpoint is, then all you have to do is lower your calorie intake by a mere 10%, and voila, I can almost garauntee that you’ll lose weight! Now it’s important to point out that everyone’s Calorie Setpoint is totally different. Mine—900 apparently—is very low, much lower than average, and I don’t recommend that anyone use that as a starting point for figuring out their own Setpoint. However, I think the fact that mine is so low is an interesting point. For years I had a very hard time losing weight on my own, even though I exercised regularly and watched what I ate very carefully. It turns out I was eating too much. I assumed that the doctor’s charts, that said I should eat 1200-1500 calories per day were just blatantly wrong for me. Looking back, it’s no wonder I gained weight when I was eating so much!

[Interesting sidenote: Apparently “Set Point Theory” is a real scientific theory that has been analyzed. And here I thought I made the term up myself! Read more at MIT Medical or at the Journal of Metabolic Syndrome and Disorders.]

I have also noticed that I’ve been feeling sluggish and tired the last few weeks, since starting my new job. So yesterday I decided that it was time to amp up my exercise. Now, I can’t say that I have not been doing any exercise at all: I’ve gone downhill skiing a few times, and snowshoeing, too. However, since starting this job, I rarely get any exercise in during the week. It’s time to change that and get a little bit of exercise back into my routine. Yesterday I hit the gym. It was more important that I get into the habit of going than it was to actually break a sweat and rev up my heart rate, so I just grabbed a stationary bicycle and read a book for 45 minutes. I’m proud that I went; it wasn’t easy to pry myself off the couch and go.

I also went tanning, in the hopes of boosting my energy. I have a vacation planned in April, and I wouldn’t mind being tan for that. However, tanning is really more for the energy, for me. I notice that I have far more energy after I go tanning. I think it’s one of the side effects of living in the Northeast during the wintertime. I can already tell a difference today; I woke up extra early today to take my husband to work, and I’m not sleepy at all. I think the tanning + exercise combo is good for me.

Today I am going to pre-plan my food intake to ensure that I get the right amount of calories and maximum amount of nutrition. Are you going to pre-plan your food intake, too?

Related Posts with Thumbnails