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Newbie questions - set point, really?

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Author Topic: Newbie questions - set point, really?  (Read 4491 times)

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euripides

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Newbie questions - set point, really?
« on: March 11, 2013, 02:33:51 PM »

Even if the diet works, I'm having a hard time with the set point theory. First, a couple of lame objections, and then an alternative theory.

Lame Objection 1:
I've been gaining weight since I was 18. Then I was about 150lbs. Now I'm 300lbs. My average daily excess in calories is about 50 (a mere Oreo or thereabouts!). So if I have a set point, what is it? A jillion pounds?

Lame Objection 2:
If the "point" that is "set" is body weight, then why wouldn't wearing an appropriately heavy overcoat or weight jacket stop weight loss? The obvious answer is that it must be something (or things) more subtle that gets "set". What then?

Alternative theory -- calorie miscalculation by our brains
 The fundamental problem for our brains is that they cannot directly assess the calorific and nutritional values of food merely by looking at it. As a result we have evolved "proxies" for those values, the most important of which include taste/flavor, mouth feel, smell, and so on. In other words, the things we experience when we *eat*. For some reason, the brains of some of us miscalculate based on those proxies. To get around that, something like intravenous (or nasal) feeding could be used, so we don't rely on the proxies. As Seth mentions in the book, an experiment with nasal feeding did indeed show the desired effect. THUS, SLD is not affecting set point. It is affecting (correcting) our brain's calculation of how much food to eat. It could be argued that that *is* set point, but crucially I'm saying the effect is a *per meal* effect.

Or something.

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Start (March 7 2013): 292.8lbs
Target - Phase 1: 275lbs
Target - Overall : 160lbs

Seth Roberts

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Re: Newbie questions - set point, really?
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2013, 12:56:34 AM »

Objection 1: Unless you are ravenously hungry or have a profound loss of appetite, your set point is close to your current weight. Apparently yours has been steadily rising over the years.

Objection 2: the point that is set is the concentration of leptin in the blood. Which depends on how much fat is in fat cells.

Alternative idea: I can't figure out what this alternative predicts. I don't know why you say the system "miscalculates": Maybe your set point should have gone up from 150 pounds to 300 pounds, according to some reasoning that made sense long ago (but not now).

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euripides

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Re: Newbie questions - set point, really?
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2013, 04:53:07 AM »

Objection 1: Unless you are ravenously hungry or have a profound loss of appetite, your set point is close to your current weight.

OK, so that would explain why my mean daily excess that has taken me to a whopping 300lbs is a mere 50 calories? I am indeed *not* ravenously hungry (unless I try conventional calorie restricting diets in which case I can get Sylvester-looking-at-Tweety-Bird-as-a-roast-dinner levels of hunger). In fact it was going back in memory to figure out my teenage and early adult weight that made my realize that my problem is *not* that I eat an extra 500, or 1000 or more calories a day. It's 50! And in fact, since I know I do heavily overeat on some days (Christmas etc -- I doubt I'm alone in that) then my median excess is even less than 50. Unless maybe I even *undereat* on some days.

Which all raises the question -- why is weight control so hard for me? If it genuinely was simply a case of "eat one fewer oreo a day", that would be easy.

That said, there are at least two distinct phases in my weight gain history. 18 to 40 was when I lived in the UK. 40 until now is in the US. The gradient of the line is far steeper in the second phase than in the first. The obvious reason is that in the US, food portions are way bigger than in the UK, and car use is far more common (i.e. walking for the bus far less). But in terms of set point -- i.e. what, when all is said and done, my brain makes me *want* to consume -- how is that difference explained?
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Start (March 7 2013): 292.8lbs
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Target - Overall : 160lbs

Seth Roberts

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Re: Newbie questions - set point, really?
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2013, 08:33:15 AM »

I would say that weight control is hard for you because you have been fed a lot of misinformation about it. If you don't know how a car works, it will be hard to fix it. It will be even harder to fix a car if you have been told the wrong thing about how it works. For example, I don't think that portion size has an effect on weight. But many Americans have been told it does.

Maybe you are gaining weight more quickly in the US than in the UK because in the US you eat more ditto food, such as junk food or chain restaurant food or microwave food.
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August

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Re: Newbie questions - set point, really?
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2013, 11:48:05 AM »

Euripides,

The flavor of the food we put in our mouths is a signal.  The louder and more predictable the signal is, the heavier we get.  Thus processed food, which provides us a strong flavor, with a very predictable payload of calories, increases our set point.  Most SLD techniques sneak a payload in with no flavor attached.  There are a few folks who try what they call 'crazy spicing' and then eating real food actually helps because of the variation of a homemade meal made with natural foods means variability in the signal/payload.
Set point goes up or down in response to the presence and predictability of the signal, much like mercury in an old fashion thermometer does in response to heat. The set point is not static, nor is there much to suggest it is determined by genetics.  Instead, it describes a response to environment.  Change the signal coming from the environment, change your weight.  It is simple, but it is also the sort of thing you almost have to experience to believe.
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Seth Roberts

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Re: Newbie questions - set point, really?
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2013, 11:58:33 AM »

I agree. Processed food isn't just fattening because it has a strong signal, it is also fattening (more fattening than the same number of calories eaten in other ways) because its signal (smell) is less variable than than the signal (smell) of other foods. For example, Tuesday's Coke has exactly the same smell as Monday's Coke. Whereas the smell of homemade food varies.
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euripides

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Re: Newbie questions - set point, really?
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2013, 06:40:39 PM »

Processed food ... is ... more fattening than the same number of calories eaten in other ways

So what's the mechanism behind the more fattening-ness. Consider an experiment where one group consumed enough calories "in other ways" so as to maintain their weight -- no loss, no gain. A second group consumes the same number of calories in processed foods. (We're averaging here obviously.)

So the second group will have (again, on average) gained some fat, right?

What did the first group do with it's calories to avoid the fat gain? More thermogenesis? Increase in lean mass? Ejecting more in the loo? Or what?
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Start (March 7 2013): 292.8lbs
Target - Phase 1: 275lbs
Target - Overall : 160lbs

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