The Setpoint Diet

The 21-Day Program to Permanently Change What Your Body "Wants" to Weigh


By Jonathan Bailor

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Join the 27,000 people who have achieved dramatic and long-term weight loss with The Setpoint Diet, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Calorie Myth.

Your body fights to keep you within a range of about 15 pounds — also known as your “setpoint weight.” New research reveals that you can lower your setpoint and end that battle for good by focusing on the quality of calories you eat, not the quantity. With The Setpoint Diet, you will reprogram your body with a 21-day plan to rev up your metabolism, eliminate inflammation, heal your hormones, repair your gut, and get your body working like that of a naturally thin person — permanently.

The Setpoint Diet is a lower-carb menu that focuses on specific anti-inflammatory whole foods, including tons of produce, nutritious proteins, and therapeutic fats. Its creator, Jonathan Bailor, founded SANESolution, a weight loss company that has reached millions of people. Proven to help you lose weight naturally and maintain it, The SetpointDiet is your new blueprint for healthy living.



Your Weight Is Not Your Fault

Inside that beautiful body of yours is a naturally thin person struggling to come out—someone who can eat as much as he or she wants, does not need to spend hours exercising, and can still stay slim. You know people like that. Maybe you’ve envied them. Maybe you’ve wished your body worked like theirs.

Until now, you’ve been forever fighting against your body and your mind. You’ve determined your worth by a number on the scale. You’ve held yourself to impossibly high standards that do nothing but fester inside you and make you feel hopeless.

Get ready for a different approach.

With the Setpoint Diet, there will be no more exhausting fights with yourself. I’m offering you a new approach that works with your body and mind to help you become naturally thin.

Can you imagine what that would be like? Just think: Never dieting. Never feeling like you must make up for nutritional sins. Instead, your body effortlessly burns calories all day long, rather than stores them as fat. You stop losing and regaining the same 20, 50, or more pounds over and over again throughout your life. You maintain a healthy, empowering weight—and even enjoy some cheesecake or French fries every now and then without worrying about putting on any pounds.

I’m here to tell you that you can be a member of that exclusive “club” of naturally thin people. In fact, I’m handing you your membership card right now. I realize that it sounds too good to be true. But it is the truth—and scores of scientific studies, plus tens of thousands of success stories prove it… and you will have proven it for yourself less than 30 days from now.

You see, there’s an invisible force inside you that is conspiring to cling to extra pounds, and it has nothing to do with calories, points, mail-order meals, cardiovascular exercise, or any of the conventional diet nonsense you’ve been fed—and that has failed you over and over for most of your life.

What’s truly holding you back—and what can permanently set you free—can be summed up in a word: setpoint. And it’s something you can control. When you control it, you stay naturally thin.


In a nutshell, setpoint refers to the level of stored fat the body works to maintain by regulating your appetite and metabolism through your hormones, genes, and brain, regardless of the quantity of calories you take in or exercise off.

Setpoint also explains why you have such a tough time keeping fat off through traditional diet and exercise programs. Think of it as a clogged sink. What if your plumber came in and said the cure for the clog was to stop using your sink? Sure, this fixes the symptom (the sink’s not going to overflow) but not the cause (what’s causing the clog?). And who wants dirty hands for the rest of their life?! The cause of that clog is eating poor-quality foods and establishing habits that throw your fat-burning, appetite-taming hormones out of whack.

This plan is about lowering your setpoint in order to keep your body in a fat-burning mode 24/7. When this happens, you also KEEP those pounds off. Every day of your life, you will wake up in the type of body that you deserve and that has previously seemed impossible to achieve.

I know this is a lot to take in. But understand that we all have a setpoint—and that’s what determines how thin or overweight we are LONG-TERM. Not calorie-counting or traditional forms of exercising. When you increase the quality of your eating, exercise, and habits, you lower your setpoint—and get your body to burn fat rather than store it.

That’s what The Setpoint Diet is all about. It removes the willpower, shame, and guilt from the weight and diabetes equation. It ends the frustration and the yo-yo dieting. It stops the painful and expensive health consequences of diabesity, and does it with a proven system that will set the naturally thin person inside you free once and for all.

You are going to learn science and strategies—and apply them to your life—that are going to be radically counter to what you’ve heard before but are guaranteed to be absolutely life-changing. You will have to try some things you’ve never done before. You will have to let go of old beliefs about eating and self-incrimination over failed dieting and make the decision to create the body and the health you desire like your life depends on it.

And honestly, your life does depend on it. And you are worth it. Really, you are.


One of my earliest and most painful memories is watching my grandfather endure heartbreaking and completely avoidable suffering. He was a superhero to me—a second-generation American with parents who spoke no English. He never graduated from high school, yet instilled in his four children the power of education. All four went on to get master’s degrees or higher.

For all he achieved in his life—from earning respect in the community to raising a beautiful, brilliant family—his superpowers could not help him overcome a supervillain that threatens more than one out of every four of us: diabetes.

When my grandfather’s leg became septic due to complications of diabetes, he was rushed to the hospital. Surgeons advised that his leg be amputated to save his life. But he would not agree to this surgery.

From outside his hospital room, I heard him calling to my mother, who was at his bedside. “Please don’t let them take my leg… please don’t!”

My family decided to honor my grandfather’s wishes and steadfastly refused the lifesaving operation. He kept both legs, but within 48 hours, he was gone.

Diabetes took him from us just as diabetes is taking so many more of us and so many of our loved ones. To this day, every year, the dual epidemics of obesity and diabetes—“diabesity”—kill more people than smoking, alcohol, and drugs combined.

When people ask me why I got into the business of teaching others how to lose weight and get healthier permanently, I tell them the story of my grandfather—and how I pledged to make sure that the superheroes in our lives don’t fall victim to lifestyle diseases the same way he did.

Growing up, I idolized two more superheroes. The first was the Man of Steel himself: Superman. In fact, my mother can tell you stories about my refusal to wear anything other than this outfit:

The second superhero was my big brother, a strong, muscular football player. Every night, I’d sit at the dinner table with him and my brainy college professor parents, dreaming of the day when I would be as strong as he was. But as birthdays came and went, the opposite happened—I grew lankier, not bigger and stronger.

So I did what any professors’ kid would do: I studied, devouring every health and fitness magazine and book under the sun, and listening to big, strong men like my brother talk about how to get big and strong. I thought I had finally discovered the secret to becoming Superman. After I went to college, I decided to put some of this hard-earned knowledge to work and help other people change their bodies as a personal trainer.

Every day, I counted calories, all the way up to 6,000 daily because I wanted to bulk up. I asked my clients to count calories, too, but so they could lose weight. Those clients were some of the most amazing, health-savvy women and men I have ever met: CEOs, doctors, and teachers. At first, I advised them to eat 1,600 calories daily and exercise for half an hour each day. But they couldn’t lose a pound, despite their successes in business and in life. So I cut their food intake down to 1,400 calories and increased their workouts to an hour a day. That didn’t work either. I slashed their diets down to 1,200 calories a day and upped their exercising to 90 minutes daily. Their weight still didn’t budge. As for me, I didn’t gain a single ounce of muscle.

I wasn’t gaining weight eating 6,000 calories per day, and my clients, even on such restricted diets, weren’t losing weight—we were all just getting sick and depressed.

What was the problem? I assumed it was that we just needed to try harder. I guess I should eat 8,000 calories per day and my clients should eat 800.

One day, while I knocked back a shot of calorie-packed olive oil, it suddenly occurred to me: What if some big strong man out there was thinking the exact same thing about me? “If that skinny, geeky kid could just eat more, he would gain weight—what’s his problem? He just needs to try harder.”

In a flash, I realized that even though all I’d ever wanted to do was to help people feel healthier and better about themselves, what I was doing was making everyone—including myself—sicker and sadder. By urging them to try harder, I was making them feel more guilt and shame.

I stopped training clients because I realized that advising them to count calories and overexercise was hurting them.

After making so many mistakes, I was hell-bent on making things right, so I asked my college professor parents for advice. I told them about the countless hours I’d spent reading and studying and applying what I’d learned—and the results I wasn’t seeing. They said, “You and your clients are not suffering from an effort problem. You’re all trying really hard. What you have is an information problem. Consider the sources.”

They were absolutely correct. So I discarded everything I thought I knew and started fresh, beginning a new journey that took me deep into the foreign lands of jargon-packed scientific studies and mind-bending academic journal articles. In the process, I discovered that everything I’d ever been taught as a trainer was disproven in the scientific literature. What I thought I knew about fitness and weight loss was wrong.

As I learned more, I was no longer interested in fighting against the body; I wanted to learn how to transform the body. I wanted to find out how to improve the system itself rather than use barbaric starvation or obsessive exercise to torture people with a system that wasn’t working correctly in the first place. Fifteen years, 10,000 pages of research, 1,300 scientific studies, and countless conversations with scientists later, I emerged from my research journey reborn.

For the first time, I realized a powerful truth: I would never be “strong enough” to leap tall buildings in a single bound. My genes simply wouldn’t allow it. But I also realized a truth that freed me and changed my life forever: While I might never become Superman, I could become, through modern nutrition and exercise science, the very best version of the person I was born to be.

And that is exactly what will happen to you: You’ll become the healthiest, happiest, most energetic super-version of you.

Once I realized how the body really works—through the proven new science of slim—I couldn’t wait to share the information with the world. I recommitted my life to helping people achieve their weight-loss and health goals with data and facts, rather than hurting them with fairy tales of starvation dieting and extreme exercise.

Since the beginning of my research journey more than 15 years ago, I went on to lead multiple development teams at Microsoft, registered 25 patents, and had wonderful opportunities to work with some of the most well-known products in the fitness industry, including the Nike+ Kinect Training platform and Xbox Fitness. I merged my learning in the realm of biology and exercise physiology with my engineering background, to literally engineer solutions for fitness and nutrition. And so with this book, I share tools with you that will save your life if you take action and put them into use. You can literally re-engineer your body into the body of a naturally thin person, and I’ll show you how.

The bottom line is, you can transform your body. And it’s easier than you think. You can eat more, not less—and you will get leaner and healthier in the process. You can enjoy an astounding level of energy, vibrancy, love, and satisfaction in your life—without spending most of it in a gym. You don’t have to suffer. You just need the correct information and the right guidance. And good news: You will get all of that here.

I want to help you realize how wonderful you are, to understand the strength, courage, and capability that have been gifted to you but have yet to be taken out of the box. It’s a choice, and you can make it. You can decide: This is my time to live the very best life possible. No longer will I wait. No longer will I sit on the bench watching other people fulfill their dreams. This is the time when I will live the life I was meant to live! This is my time to transform! This is when I will go SANE (Satiety, Aggression, Nutrition, and Efficiency).

That life is here for you right now. Thank you for the privilege and honor of sharing it with you.


Jonathan Bailor

Seattle, Washington




Unlock the Naturally Thin You

You’ve been on diet after diet.

You’ve cut calories, carbs, and fat.

You’ve exercised your heart out.

You’ve lost weight, maybe a lot of it. But you gained it back, over and over again. Nothing you do works. You can’t seem to drop pounds, nor can you keep them off.

What gives?

It all goes back to setpoint—the weight your body will try to maintain no matter what sort of “diet” you try. The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to lower your setpoint.

The Setpoint Diet is an empowering plan (the opposite of an “elimination diet”) for eating and living that will unlock the naturally thin person inside you, so that you can enjoy your ideal weight permanently. It will reshape your body and the way you think about weight loss—no more cutting calories or torturing yourself with exercise you hate; no more feeling tired, hungry, and defeated all the time.

Always remember that you are not to blame for any weight issue you may be experiencing. I know you might not truly accept this yet, but it’s true. Right now, please pause for a second and repeat out loud: “I am not to blame for my weight.”

Because of the wrong information and the resulting societal misunderstanding about overweight and obesity, you’ve been guilted, shamed, and bullied into trying to lose weight with terribly wrong, hurtful advice: Just do it, stop being lazy, get your act together. Sadly, a lot of this “body shaming” or “fat shaming” comes from people and groups who should know better—nutritionists, psychologists, stick-thin celebrities. This is so wrong and unfair. For one thing, estimates of heritability of obesity and overweight range from 30 to 70 percent, with the typical estimate at 50 percent, according to a report published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Lyon and Hirschhorn 2005). So are many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. All of these, including obesity, should be treated with respect and consideration. Sadly, those “experts” didn’t get that memo.

Fat shaming and bullying will never help you or anyone else lose weight. It only urges you to feel ashamed, rather than empowered. A study in the American Journal of Public Health underscores the suffering and shame that overweight people in our society face. It pointed out that 8 out of 10 people who are overweight or obese avoid going out in public for fear of being bullied over their appearance (Puhl and Heurer 2010). People who suffer from the chronic diseases overweight, obesity, and diabetes deserve the same compassion and scientific solutions provided to people suffering from more “socially acceptable” chronic diseases such as cancer or heart disease.

This brutality is further compounded when you’re told to do things that just don’t work, such as eating less, exercising more, and trying harder—all of which have a documented failure rate of 95.4 percent (Crawford 2000). Plus, these unworkable actions create another loop of guilt, shame, low self-esteem, depression, and more difficulty in keeping weight under control.

The beautiful thing is that hurt, suffering, shame, and other negative emotions do not exist in this book or in any of its supporting tools. Instead, you are going to patiently, permanently, and persistently heal your body, mind, and spirit—using a proven plan that solves weight as a scientific problem, rather than a character fault.

Whether you need to lose a few extra pounds around your waistline or you are looking for a complete body transformation, you are finally in the right place. The starting point of this journey is looking more closely at “setpoint weight”—the greatest determining factor in how much you weigh.


The human body is a beautifully complex biological machine. Your brain, your digestive system, and your hormones all work together through a highly coordinated system to help stabilize your weight—the same way they automatically stabilize your body temperature, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

Your brain, digestive system, and hormones talk to one another through various feedback loops to synchronize the activities that automatically maintain body fat at a specific level, otherwise known as your setpoint weight.

Think of the biological feedback system that establishes your setpoint weight like the thermostat in your house. Thanks to the thermostat, your heating or air-conditioning system responds to the weather outside and keeps your home at whatever temperature the thermostat “thinks” it should be at. Similarly, your setpoint stimulates or suppresses your appetite and raises or lowers metabolism—your body’s food-to-fuel process—in response to how much fat it “thinks” you should store.

Let’s say you decide to lose weight—and you go on some sort of starvation diet. After all, that’s what you’ve been taught to do all these years, right? The story goes that if you reduce 500 calories a day, you’re going to lose 3,500 calories by the end of the week—which is the equivalent of 1 pound. Do this for a couple of months and—bang—you’ve dropped about 8 pounds.

Sadly, your personal dieting experience (and decades of it!) coupled with modern science proves it doesn’t work this way—at all—and this is because of your setpoint. When you start to cut calories, your body’s metabolic alarm goes off (just like a thermostat responds when outside temperatures nose-dive to freezing). It signals your body—which strives for homeostasis or that stable status quo—that you are not consuming as much as you normally do. In response, your body demands more food and starts burning fewer calories. Appetite goes up, calorie burn goes down. This is why it seems like your body fights you every step of the way when you try to lose weight—because it does.

So you see, your weight is all about your setpoint! With each “cycle” of this plan, you’ll lower your setpoint weight 10 pounds until you reach your ideal healthy setpoint. No matter how elevated your setpoint has become, this plan will engineer your body to burn fat like a naturally thin person so that you can effortlessly enjoy a body that looks and feels its best.

Once you see the science of setpoint weight, you can see how offensive it is to tell people who struggle with obesity that they “aren’t trying hard enough.” Telling people who suffer from an elevated setpoint to eat less and exercise more is like telling depressed people to frown less and smile more. Science has proven that both “light” and “heavy” bodies are abiding by the same science of the setpoint—“heavy” individuals just happen to have an elevated setpoint.

In fact, research over the last 30 years has shown exactly what I am describing: If you have an elevated setpoint, your body will fight to hold on to extra fat for its own survival. Let’s take a look at some of this science right now.


Fifteen years ago, when I embarked on this journey to uncover the truth about how dieting makes us heavy, sick, and sad, I didn’t know just how many hours I would spend poring over study after study (I ended up at around 1,300—and counting—which you can see at Nor did I realize how much resistance I would encounter from non-medical “experts” and companies trying to hold us hostage with blatant lies and confusing messages about how complicated it must be to live a healthy and happy life.

Once you understand how your setpoint works (and how to hit your ideal setpoint), you’ll see that all that other weight-loss methods are just nonsense.

What I will share with you in this section is the nuts and bolts of setpoint science. There’s no need for you to spend 15 years plowing through all the studies like I did; I’m giving you the summary highlights. This information will begin to set you free. Ready?

Scientists who are studying the concept of setpoint start by asking themselves two questions:

1. If you eat more calories, does your body automatically burn more calories?

2. If you eat fewer calories, does your body automatically burn fewer calories?

Every study that has ever asked either of these questions has shown that both of these statements are true. Further, every relevant study ever conducted has shown that if fed too many (or too few) calories, people don’t gain as much weight as “calorie math” would predict. Why? Their setpoint “fought back” to try to keep the study participants at what it “thought” they should weigh.

One of the earliest studies to demonstrate the concept of a setpoint weight was done in 1995 by a team of scientists at New York’s Rockefeller University. They proved that metabolism disproportionately slows down after pounds have been shed—and that the metabolism remains slow, even after the “diet” is over. The researchers, led by Rudolph L. Leibel, studied 18 overweight volunteers and 23 people who had never been obese. The results, published in 1995 in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the obese and the lean respond to weight changes the same way. When they lost 10 percent of their body weight, their bodies compensated by burning up 15 percent fewer calories than would be expected. When they increased their weight by 10 percent, they used up 15 percent more calories (Leibel et al. 1995).

Based on these findings, Leibel and his colleagues believed they had identified an internal control (now known as setpoint) that tries to keep body fat at a reasonably constant level. This level differs from person to person, but how the body works to maintain it—adjusting metabolism in response to both weight loss and gain—is the same in everyone. If you start taking pounds off by eating less, your metabolism slows. If you start putting pounds on by eating more, your metabolism speeds up.

Here’s another example: As reported in Science, researchers at the Mayo Clinic fed people 1,000 extra calories per day for 8 weeks. A thousand extra calories per day for 8 weeks totals 56,000 extra calories. But nobody gained 16 pounds—56,000 calories’ worth—of body fat. The most anyone gained was a little over half that. And some participants gained basically nothing—less than a pound (Levine et al. 1999).

How can 56,000 extra calories add up to nothing?

It’s because extra calories don’t have to turn into body fat. They can be burned off automatically. This has been known in the scientific community for nearly a century. For example, in 1932 the Quarterly Journal of Medicine reported, “Food in excess of immediate requirements… can easily be disposed of, being burnt up and dissipated as heat. Did this capacity not exist, obesity would be almost universal” (Lyon and Dunlop 1932).

Eating more and gaining less is possible because when you have a lower setpoint, your body has all sorts of little-known ways to deal with surplus calories other than storing them as body fat. In the Mayo Clinic study, researchers measured three of them:

1. Your body can increase the amount of calories it burns daily (your “base metabolic rate”).

2. Your body can increase the amount of calories it burns digesting food.

3. Your body can increase the amount of calories it burns via unconscious activity—little movements like shifting in your chair or fidgeting with your pen that some of us are more prone to than others.

Here is what they found:

Daily Response to 1,000 Extra Calories

Base Calories Burned Daily

High Setpoint: Decreased by 100 calories

Low Setpoint: Increased by 360 calories

Calories Burned Digesting Food

High Setpoint: Increased by 28 calories

Low Setpoint: Increased by 256 calories

Calories Burned via Unconscious Activity

High Setpoint: Decreased by 98 calories

Low Setpoint: Increased by 692 calories

Total Daily Response

High Setpoint: Burned 170 Fewer Calories

Low Setpoint: Burned 1,308 More Calories

That is how some people ate 56,000 extra calories without gaining any weight. A lower setpoint does its best to automatically balance more calories in with more calories out by upping the calories you burn as your base metabolic rate, when digesting food, and through unconscious activity.

A few years ago, the role of setpoint and metabolism took center stage after the release of shocking research involving 16 contestants on NBC’s hit show The Biggest Loser, in which people diagnosed with obesity are publicly tortured into losing the most weight possible as quickly as possible (Fothergill et al. 2016).

Researchers discovered that 6 years after competing in the show, contestants’ bodies had adapted to their weight loss with a disproportionately decreased metabolic rate that persisted for years. Essentially, their bodies were working all day, every day, to regain the lost weight by driving their appetite and cravings up and their metabolisms down. When participants cut calories to maintain their new, thinner physiques, their metabolism slowed down even more. Eventually, their bodies were burning so few calories that most people were doomed to gain back all the weight they lost, and then some.


  • "Exposes the fundamental myths about obesity and weight loss that are keeping Americans sick. By explaining the link between our hormones and our metabolism, Jonathan Bailor offers readers a powerful set of tools for creating lifelong health."
    Mark Hyman, MD, eleven-time New York Times bestselling author of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?
  • "I am often asked when there will be a proven prescription for weight loss. This is that prescription."
    Dr. Theodoros Kelesidis, MD, Harvard and UCLA Medical Schools
  • "Brilliant! An easily understood and applied framework that will change the way you live, look, and feel. Bailor will end your confusion once and for all."—Dr. William Davis, MD, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wheat Belly
  • "Jonathan Bailor cuts through the noise around diet and weight loss and tells it to us straight: The food we eat impacts our biology in the most fundamental yet fixable ways. Our hormones regulate weight loss, and what we eat impacts how they function. Calories? Not the issue."
    Dr. Sara Gottfried, MD, New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure
  • "A most fascinating and scientifically accurate look at the science of weight loss. The bottom line is this: Conventional 'calories in, calories out' approaches to weight loss are grossly inaccurate and tend to blame the victim. But there is another way. And it works. And it's right here in this book, which I highly recommend."—Christiane Northrup, MD, New York Times best-selling author of Goddesses Never Age, The Wisdom of Menopause, and Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

On Sale
Dec 22, 2020
Page Count
352 pages
Hachette Go

Jonathan Bailor

Jonathan Bailor

About the Author

Jonathan Bailor is a New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized wellness expert who specializes in using modern science and technology to simplify health. Bailor has collaborated with top scientists for more than ten years to analyze and apply over 1,300 studies. His work has been endorsed by top doctors and scientists from Harvard Medical School, Johns’ Hopkins, The Mayo Clinic, The Cleveland Clinic, and UCLA.

Bailor is the founder of and serves as the CEO for the wellness technology company Yopti®. He authored the New York Times and USA Today bestselling book The Calorie Myth, hosts a popular syndicated health radio show The SANE Show, and blogs on the Huffington Post. Additionally, Bailor has registered over twenty-five patents, spoken at Fortune 100 companies and TED conferences for over a decade, and served as a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft where he helped create Nike+ Kinect Training and XBox Fitness.

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