Diets, Weight-Loss, and Your Biological Thermostat

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Your Biological Thermostat, Weight-Loss, and Diets


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Diets, Weight-Loss, and Your Biological Thermostat
by Dusty R. Green, M.Ed., Research Scientist/Author

If you have experienced the "ups and downs" of body fat fluxuations throughout your life, you have been re-setting your biological thermostat in an erratic fashion.  This weight-loss and weight-gain can be harmful to your health.  Even if you have gained ten pounds since your twentieth birthday, you have re-set your biological thermostat.  Regardless of your weight gain and/or loss over the years, your thermostat is not broken.  It constantly adapts to changes in body fat.

This information will be helpful to you, first, in understanding your biological thermostat and, second, re-setting and maintaining it effortlessly for the rest of your life at a healthy body fat percentage.

Those of you who have been on the typical "diet roller coaster" have most likely experienced the following physiological pitfalls.

Weeks 1-4:  Severe caloric restriction = dramatic weight loss.

  • The body is losing water at a ratio much higher than it is losing fat,

  • The body adjusts to the "crisis" and adapts to conserve fat,

  • Muscle is burned along with fat to provide energy.

  • Months 1-4:  Weight loss slows and further progress becomes difficult.

    • Basil (resting) metabolic rate is significantly depressed,

    • Biological thermostat (setpoint) knows that it is being tampered with and is constantly trying to readjust all of your organ systems to your new weight,

    • Your organs begin to cry "mutiny," and some may actually do it,

    • Muscle tissue continues to be used as a fuel source,

    • Nutritional deficiencies begin to show up in the form of weakness, fatigue, hair loss, hypothyroidism, depression and others.

    By the end of the 4th month, the diet is discontinued and the weight is regained.

    1. The satiety (feeling of fullness) center of the hypothalamus in the brain has been tampered with so much that it waits a long time to release cholecystokinin (CCK) -- the hormone that makes you feel full.

    2. You go back to your old ways of eating because you're "sick and tired of being sick and tired" and all that food makes you feel good temporarily.

    3. The higher setpoint (lowered metabolic rate) on your biological thermostat increases your body's tendency to put on more body fat because of the lost muscle.  You may end up weighing the same as your pre-diet weight, but you have more fat and less muscle on your frame.

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