Body Fat Set Points – Part 1
This blog post and its’ sequel, are going to be two of the most important posts I’ve ever made.
This is pretty much the key to understanding how to permanently lower your body fat levels, and permanently look better and be healthier.
As with most of what I talk about, this stuff is simple and easy to logically understand, but very difficult to actually implement in real life. But I can assure you that the confidence gains you receive and how much happier you feel in the long run are easily worth the short term pain.
The body fat set point acts essentially as a thermostat. If you eat more food than your body is comfortable with, it raises your metabolism as a response. It also sends signals to your brain that you’re full – please stop pigging out! Eat too few calories for this thermostat, and it will decrease your metabolism.
As mentioned here however, the main changes to your diet success are due to psychological factors such as diet adherence, as opposed to metabolic factors. Your brain will start focusing heavily on food when not eating enough, and may even trick you into thinking you have eaten less than you really have. Yes there have been studies done on this.
Lowering your body fat set point is, and should be the biggest health and fitness goal of the majority of Western society. This change applies to both health related goals, and also aesthetic goals – who wants to only be lean for two weeks of the year in the summer? Who only wants temporary dieting success, and temporary happiness?
Changing your body fat set point for the better will leave you leaner, more chiselled and better looking year round. This may not be the case for those who are very tall and naturally skinny, and you may desperately need to gain weight, but as I said I’m addressing the majority of Western society (who are overweight, or could at least benefit from losing from some chub).
The set point is the level of body fat that your body and brain has become comfortable maintaining. The conditions for this being “comfortable” are:
You are happy, hormonally healthy and can still make gains.
The issue is, the body fat set point for most men over the age of 25 is about 30-35%. This is not good. Some Youtubers claim that “you need a certain amount of body fat in order to be healthy”…but you certainly don’t need that much! More on others’ views later.
There are two components to this set point:
The biological set point is of course determined by your biology. This level is based upon your genetics – think of old caveman you. Was he walking around at 35% body fat?
The bottom line is, people in the Western world get fat as they get older. Women blame hormones and child birth, men blame their women. So this begs the question:
“Are the thermostats broken?”
No, of course not. The biological set point for males is somewhere in the range 0f 7-14%, REGARDLESS of age. Some guys will be healthy and make gains at 7%, whereas some guys may need more like 14%. Yes, if you are 50, you will tend towards the 14% end of the spectrum, when you may have been closer to 8-10% when you were 20.
I will emphasise that this is a maximum of 14% though, not 35%!
Some older YouTubers claim that anything in the single digit body fat area is “unhealthy”, which is a completely biased point of view as they’ve never achieved it before and seek to drag others down to their level. As soon as you bring your calories up to maintenance, you will feel good again within a couple of days and you will be perfectly healthy, assuming you are either in the middle, or towards the lower end of the body fat set point spectrum.
Society makes it ok for people to get fatter as they get older. Social comparisons are a huge factor here, so if other people are doing it then it must be ok, right?
Gaining fat is a lifestyle choice, dictated by the “Environment” component. The focus now becomes, how do we change our lifestyle, and/or how do we limit the impact that it has on our body fat set point? We need to manipulate our environment in a way whereby it has minimal impact on our body fat levels.
There are many relatively easy ways to do this, and many people are ignorant of them. These will be discussed in detail in part 2.