The "set point" is the brain's target weight for a person's body. Just as the body works to maintain a fairly standard temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, it also works to maintain a body weight that is physiologically comfortable. The set point is maintained by the hypothalamus, and is often genetically influenced. However, a number of things can cause the set point to change, moving a person's normal weight to a higher number on the scale, and sabotaging weight loss efforts.
Causes of Set Point Malfunction
One of the more common causes of set point malfunction is aggressive or yo-yo dieting. Calorie restrictive diets can actually slow thyroid function, resulting in a slower metabolism. Illnesses such as chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia can also cause the set point to malfunction. Some medications can cause the set point to increase, including common antidepressants such as Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft and Lexapro, anti-convulsant medications, blood pressure medications, anti-seizure or pain medications such as Neurontin or Lyrica, birth control pills, synthetic hormone replacement, and diabetic medications that stimulate insulin secretion, such as glyburide and Amaryll. The set point can also increase as a natural effect of aging. However, this cause is typically related to hormone decline, which can be successfully treated.
Correcting an Elevated Set Point
Fortunately, there are solutions that can help to lower the body's set point to a more acceptable number. These include thyroid hormone optimization, consistency in diet and exercise levels, and aggressive management of conditions such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic infections, and chronic inflammation.
Medications Can Help
In addition, there are now medications that can be used to lower the set point and increase weight loss success. Naltrexone, a drug typically used in high doses as a treatment for narcotic opioid overdose and to help patients detox from narcotic addiction, is showing success in decreasing the body's set point when used as much lower doses. Referred to as "low-dose naltrexone," this drug is now widely used as an effective immune modulator, and is helpful for managing autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto's disease, Graves' disease, and Lupus. At a dose slightly higher than "low-dose," Naltrexone has been shown to reduce the body's set point, working at the level of the hypothalamus, bringing about significant weight loss.
The success of naltrexone for weight loss is greatly enhanced when combined with the common antidepressant, Wellbutrin. Patients lose an average of a half pound per week, and experience reduced appetite and cravings. The LDN/Wellbutrin combination protocol works synergistically with other weight loss medications. Additionally, patients noted improved mood and energy; reduced migraines, anxiety and PMS; and increased libido, with no significant side effects. In one clinical study, the LDN plus Wellbutrin combination protocol was shown to result in significant weight loss at more than twice the rate of placebo, with an average weight loss of more than 17 pounds
Set point malfunction no longer has to sabotage your weight loss efforts. A common sense solution of consistent diet and exercise, thyroid hormone optimization, and treating medical conditions that might raise the body's set point can bring you closer to weight loss success. And if added support is needed, medications can make a big difference in helping you reach your goal weight.