If you are experiencing weight gain then it might be one of the two situations with you.
One would be, If you started taking in more calories than your usual intake and stopped doing workout. This definitely surprises you with an increase in your weight.
Second would be, If you are maintaining your usual calorie intake and exercise routine but still experience weight gain, it may indicate that there are other factors at play.
It’s important to look beyond your diet and exercise habits to determine what might be causing the weight gain.
Gaining weight unexpectedly can be a frustrating and confusing experience, especially if you feel like you’re doing everything right.
However, there are several reasons why this can happen, and understanding these causes can help you get back on track.
1. Underestimating Calorie Intake (study)
One of the most common reasons for unexpected weight gain is that people tend to underestimate how much they’re eating.
You need to keep a food diary for a week to track your calorie intake and see if you’re eating more than you think.
This occurs when individuals do not accurately track the amount of food they consume, and as a result, they may consume more calories than they realize.
Here are a few examples of how this can happen:
- People often serve themselves larger portions of food than they need, and they may not realize how many calories they are consuming.
- Snacking can add up quickly, and people often don’t realize how many extra calories they are consuming throughout the day.
- Beverages, such as soda, juice, and alcohol, can contain a large amount of calories and sugar, and people may not realize how many calories they are consuming.
- Certain foods, such as salad dressings and sauces, can contain a lot of hidden calories, and people may not realize how much they are consuming.
Underestimating calorie intake is a common reason for unexpected weight gain, and it can happen in many ways.
By keeping a food diary and tracking your calorie intake, you can become more aware of how much you are eating and make changes to prevent weight gain.
2. Skipping Meals (study)
Skipping meals can lead to weight gain for several reasons. When you skip a meal, your body goes into starvation mode, which can slow down your metabolism and cause your body to store fat instead of burning it.
Additionally, skipping meals can cause overeating later in the day, leading to an overall increase in calorie intake.
Here are a few examples of how this can happen:
- When you skip a meal, your body starts to crave food and you may be more likely to overeat when you finally sit down to eat or you may be more likely to snack on unhealthy foods between meals.
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as it helps to kick-start your metabolism and provides energy for the day ahead. Skipping breakfast can lead to overeating later in the day and a slow metabolism, both of which can contribute to weight gain.
- Skipping dinner can lead to overeating later in the evening or snacking on unhealthy foods before bed. This can cause an increase in calorie intake, leading to weight gain.
Skipping meals can lead to weight gain in several ways, including overeating at the next meal, snacking between meals, skipping breakfast, and skipping dinner.
By eating regular, balanced meals throughout the day, you can keep your metabolism stable and prevent overeating, helping you to avoid unexpected weight gain.
3. Lack of physical activity (study)
Physical activity is crucial in maintaining a healthy weight, as it helps to burn calories and reduce the risk of weight gain.
Lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain because without physical activity, the calories consumed are not being burned off, which can result in an increase in body fat.
Here are a few examples of how this can happen:
- If an individual has a sedentary lifestyle and spends most of their day sitting or lying down, their caloric expenditure will be significantly lower compared to someone who is physically active.
- People who have desk jobs and spend long hours in front of a computer are more likely to gain weight because of the lack of physical activity.
- People who spend a lot of time watching TV, playing video games, or browsing the internet, instead of being physically active, are also at risk of weight gain.
Lack of physical activity can contribute to weight gain and it is important to incorporate physical activity into daily routines to maintain a healthy weight.
4. Hormonal changes (study)
Hormonal changes can impact weight by altering metabolism, hunger levels, and fat storage.
For example, women may experience weight gain during menopause, while men may gain weight as they age due to a decrease in testosterone.
Examples of hormones that can cause weight gain include:
- Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” can increase food cravings and fat storage, especially in the abdominal area, when elevated.
- Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels and fat storage. When insulin levels are consistently elevated, it can lead to weight gain, especially in the form of belly fat.
- Thyroid hormones the thyroid produces hormones that regulate metabolism. Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive, can lead to slow metabolism and weight gain.
- Declining Estrogen levels during menopause can cause weight gain, especially in the hips and waist.
- Low Testosterone levels in men can lead to decreased muscle mass and increased body fat, including belly fat.
It’s important to note that hormonal imbalances are often a symptom of underlying health conditions, such as insulin resistance, and addressing the root cause can be crucial in preventing and treating weight gain.
5. Medications (study)
Certain medications can cause weight gain as a side effect by altering metabolism, hunger levels, and fat storage.
Talk to your doctor about the side effects of your medications and whether there are alternatives that won’t cause weight gain.
Some examples include:
- Antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, can increase appetite and cause weight gain.
- Glucocorticoid steroids, often used to treat inflammation and autoimmune diseases, can lead to weight gain, especially in the form of belly fat.
- Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, used for allergies and insomnia, can cause drowsiness and increase appetite, leading to weight gain.
- Anticonvulsants drugs used to treat seizures, such as valproic acid and carbamazepine, can cause weight gain as a side effect.
- Some Diabetes medications used to treat diabetes, such as insulin and sulfonylureas, can cause weight gain by increasing insulin levels and fat storage.
It’s important to discuss the potential side effects of any medication with your doctor, as alternative options may be available that don’t cause weight gain.
Additionally, making lifestyle changes, such as following a healthy diet and regular exercise, can help mitigate the effects of weight gain from medications.
6. Lack of sleep (study)
Lack of sleep can cause weight gain by affecting hormones that regulate hunger and metabolism.
Examples of how lack of sleep leads to weight gain include:
- Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates hunger and increases when you’re sleep deprived. This can lead to overeating and weight gain.
- Leptin is a hormone that suppresses hunger and decreases when you’re sleep deprived. This can result in increased hunger and overeating.
- Cortisol is the “stress hormone” that can increase when you’re sleep deprived, leading to increased food cravings and fat storage, especially in the abdominal area.
- Insulin resistance is a sleep deprivation that can impair insulin sensitivity, leading to higher insulin levels and increased fat storage.
In addition to hormonal changes, lack of sleep can also lead to decreased physical activity and decreased ability to make healthy food choices, both of which can contribute to weight gain.
It’s recommended to aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to support overall health and prevent weight gain.
7. Stress (study)
Stress can lead to weight gain by affecting hormones and behaviors related to hunger and metabolism.
Stress can cause an increase in cortisol, a hormone that leads to weight gain, especially in the abdominal area. Finding ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, meditation, or therapy, can help.
Examples of how stress can cause weight gain include:
- Cortisol is the “stress hormone” that can increase during times of stress and lead to increased food cravings, especially for high-fat, high-sugar foods, and fat storage, especially in the abdominal area.
- Stress can trigger emotional eating and overeating, leading to weight gain.
- Stress can lead to decreased motivation and energy for exercise, which can contribute to weight gain.
- Stress can cause sleep disturbances, leading to hormonal imbalances and weight gain as discussed in the previous answer.
It’s important to manage stress through a variety of techniques, such as exercise, mindfulness, therapy, and healthy coping mechanisms, to prevent stress-related weight gain.
Additionally, engaging in a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, can help mitigate the effects of stress on weight.
Weight gain can be a complex issue and there can be multiple factors at play. It’s important to consider the role of hormones, medications, lack of sleep, stress, and other factors in addition to diet and exercise when trying to understand why you’re gaining weight unexpectedly.
By working with a healthcare professional, you can identify the underlying cause and develop a plan to address it. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, can help mitigate the impact of these factors on your weight.