Why Dieting Is So Difficult: The Brain Battle

Obesity is an epidemic health issue in the United States, a problem that continues to grow instead of regress. Each year, millions of people resolve to lose weight by going on a diet. According to research, the annual probability of achieving a 5% weight reduction was 1 in 8 for men and 1 in 7 for women with morbid obesity which is extremely low.

So, what makes dieting and weight loss so difficult and a healthy body so unobtainable?

The Battle With Your Brain: Set Point Theory

Your brain regulates your body weight. Research suggests that each person has a weight set point, a range of within 10-20 pounds that your body wants to maintain. This set point is genetically pre-determined just like any of your physical traits such as eye or hair color. When you first begin your weight loss journey, you may be successful and lose 10-15 pounds. This weigh loss drops you below your set point and your brain jumps into action and your body resists further weight loss. You then reach a sticking point or begin to put the weight back on.

How does this happen?

When you restrict your calories to shed pounds, your brain jumps into action and autocorrects to adjust your weight back to its comfortable set point by slowing your metabolism and/or increasing your appetite because it thinks your body is starving. The starvation response of your brain is a survival instinct to force your body to conserve, conserve, conserve those calories!

Can Your “Set Point” Be Changed?

You can change your set point, however this means making lifestyle changes that take time – at least a year or more. Your body is much less likely to fight your weight loss efforts if you lose weight gradually because you don’t trigger the starvation response.

Instead of “dieting”, which is temporary, you need to permanently change your eating habits. Stick with whole foods, not processed, refined food sources. Eliminate artificial sweeteners from your diet as well.

Make sure you are getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week.


If you are committed to permanently changing your body, you must also permanently change your dietary and exercise behaviors.