When It Comes to Weight Loss, It’s Not Just Psychological

Although more people admit that the diet industry is misleading, weight loss programs still assure us that eating certain prepackaged meals and counting calories will lead to weight loss.

However, these claims ignore two important contracts:

  1. Different bodies work best at different weights.
  2. Our unique regulatory systems struggle to keep us at these weights for peak performance.

tuning theory

Set point theory suggests that each person has a predetermined biological weight (“set point”) at which their body functions best.1 Thus, each person’s body works to keep them at their starting point by modifying different biological systems; This helps in regulating the amount of food a person eats and the amount of energy they expend accordingly.

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Set point theory suggests that our bodies function best with a predetermined weight.

Source: Sean D / Unsplash

The set point theory helps explain why so many people regain the weight they lost over time. It also explains why people with eating disorders don’t always experience severe weight loss: Our bodies fight to keep us at or above set weight points.

However, there is still a lot we don’t know about how our bodies regulate weight.

leptin hormone

One of the hormones that has recently gained attention for its involvement in weight maintenance is leptin. Leptin is found in fat cells and is released in response to energy balance and changes in fat mass.1

Once released, leptin tells the hypothalamus (the “eating control center” in our brain) of these changes. The hypothalamus then helps to modulate regulatory signals (ie signals of fullness) that contribute to resetting our lipid and energy levels.

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Leptin is the satiety hormone that helps regulate weight.

Source: Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

It is thought that people with unhealthy high weights may be resistant to leptin. This may result in them not receiving the signals of satiety when their bodies have enough energy.2

However, weight regulation is not so simple.

First, coordinating how our bodies regulate weight is a very complex matter. For example, research suggests that leptin does not simply prevent us from eating too much.1 Alternatively, it may be skewed to protect our bodies from losing fat rather than gaining it. In other words, leptin’s primary function may be to prevent us from falling below our set point, with less regard for weight gain.

This may be one reason (biologically speaking) that it is easier for people to gain weight rather than lose it.

Second, weight regulation involves many different factors besides biology, including, but not limited to, genetics, culture, and psychology. all of these Must They should be taken into account when discussing a person’s weight.

Psychology: an updated diet industry

One recent diet program has benefited from the growing recognition that psychology contributes to weight maintenance.

Specifically, this program (which claims to be not a diet) asserts that, using psychology, it can “help you lose weight forever.” She claims that this approach works because “when it comes to losing weight, it’s psychological.”

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Psychology is only one part of weight regulation.

Source: Jamie Matociños / Unsplash

If that sounds overly simplistic, it is because it is.

While it has been shown that psychological interventions (eg, cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT) can contribute to weight loss in the short term, it is unclear whether psychological interventions alone can help individuals stay underweight in the long term.3

This is partly due to biology, and partly due to the challenges of changing our health behaviors.

Changing brain behavior and health

The above diet program claims that “psychology” can alter “conditioned” thoughts people have since childhood, such as cleaning the plate during a meal or eating while watching TV.

On the surface, this seems like a good approach. In fact, research has shown that our brains and our experiences twofold influence each other.3 This means that our experiences (for example, our eating habits or our thoughts about food) can change the structure of our brains. It also means that we have the ability to “reconfigure” our brains using changing thought and behaviour.3 This approach has proven effective in treating many mental disorders, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.3

However, changing how our brains work while changing behavior is not easy.

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Changing the way our brains work is complicated.

Source: Robina Weermeijer / Unsplash

First, the individual needs to practice the desired behavior or thinking over and over, in different environments, for a long time. This is necessary for the ever-changing brain function and subsequent behavioral and emotional changes.3

Second, how a person feels while performing the new behavior affects the brain’s susceptibility to change (i.e. flexibility). For example, the brain lacks the appropriate energy to focus on habitual behavior and/or change thought if someone is bored. On the flip side, a person who feels very resentful or afraid will not have enough brain or body chemistry for effective learning.

Finally, the ongoing changes in the brain depend on the size of the brain cells, their composition and arrangement, and their connections to other local and distant cells.

Because these factors differ between people, changing healthy behavior will be easier for some than for others.

Thus, while it is true that psychology can contribute For permanent behavior changes, it is misleading to say that “psychology” alone can help us “ultimately lose weight for good” by changing our “conditioned behaviours.”


The US weight loss industry, which includes, but is not limited to, diet foods/drinks and pills, diet chains, marketed diet plans, and health clubs, is worth over $70 billion annually.4

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Weight doesn’t always indicate health (or happiness).

Source: Vanessa Kintaudi / Unsplash

These financial gains come at the expense of consumers, for whom easy weight loss solutions are marketed without exhaustive explanation of the complexity of weight regulation.

Thus, the purpose of this post is to inform people that ongoing weight loss is a complex process that cannot (and should not) be attempted through diet industry gimmicks. Instead, it is always best to consult professionals (such as dietitians and endocrinologists) and use a variety of safe methods when considering weight loss.5

It is also important to listen and appreciate our bodies Which Weight and accept that our health and happiness are important and valid. Since we are individuals with unique biological systems, our weights do not necessarily represent our state of health.

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