You’re religious about the gym and you only rarely swerve from your usual salads and smoothies. Yet you wondering, why you still gaining weight?
Weight gain can be extremely frustrating, especially when you don’t know what’s causing it. It can be periodic, continuous, or rapid.
Most people experience fluctuations in their weight, and it is common to gain weight over time. However, if a person gains weight in a very short time for no clear reason, diet typically plays the largest role in weight gain, other factors such as stress and lack of sleep may contribute as well.
Here are 6 causes of unintentional weight gain
People respond differently to stress, anxiety and depressed moods. Some people may lose weight, while others may gain weight.
When life’s demands get too intense, our bodies go into survival mode. Cortisol is a common problem that can affect your weight. Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” is secreted, which causes an increase in appetite. And of course, we may reach for comfort foods that are high-calorie in times of stress as well.
Stress management may promote weight loss. Try incorporating relaxation practices into your routine. These include yoga, spending time in nature, and meditation.
This, obviously, is the big one.
Eating patterns can affect your weight gain. Eating five smaller meals a day, instead of two or three larger meals, has been associated with a reduced risk of becoming overweight.(source)
If you take in more calories than you burn per day, you’ll likely gain weight. Frequent snacking and making calorie-rich, nutrient-poor dietary choices all promote excessive calorie intake.
Keep in mind that as we age, our bodies change how we handle calories, and we tend to gain weight far more easily than we did in our younger days. This weight gain often occurs without any variation in our diets or activity levels — so it is “unexplained.”
It can be difficult to determine your calorie needs on your own, so consult a registered dietitian if you struggle with overeating.
Simple ways to avoid overeating may include, paying attention to hunger and fullness cues by eating mindfully, following a high-fiber, high-protein diet rich in plant foods, drinking water instead of calorie-rich beverages, and increasing your activity level.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, which in turn may aid in weight loss, but there’s nothing like a sleepless night which makes you crave sugar and fat.
That’s because a missed night of sleep can influence your hunger hormones and metabolism. Insufficient sleep may trigger weight gain, among other negative effects
A study in 92 women demonstrated that those who slept fewer than 6 hours daily had the highest BMI and the highest levels of visfatin (a protein secreted by fat cells), compared with women who slept 6 hours or more per day.(Source)
If you have poor sleep quality, you can try limiting screen time before bed, reducing your caffeine intake, and going to sleep at a consistent time.
Undiagnosed Medical Issue
Although many lifestyle factors contribute to unintentional weight gain, certain medical conditions may also play a role. Such as:
- Hypothyroidism. This condition affects your thyroid gland and may cause weight gain or difficulty with weight loss.(Source)
- Depression. This common mental condition is linked to weight gain and obesity.(Source)
- Binge eating disorder (BED). BED is categorized by recurrent episodes of uncontrollable overeating and can lead to many health complications, including weight gain.(Source)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is marked by hormonal imbalances that affect women of reproductive age. It may cause weight gain and make it.(Source)
Weight gain is a common side effect for people who take insulin to manage their diabetes. Insulin helps to control your blood sugar level. Some people with longstanding diabetes tend to eat more than they need to prevent low blood sugar.
What’s more, certain medications, including antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs, can lead to weight gain.
If you are being treated for any of these problems with prescription medication, talk to your doctor about whether your medicine might be contributing to your weight gain.
Weight cycling is losing weight and regaining it over and over. It’s called “yo-yo” dieting when it happens because of dieting.
After losing weight, your appetite increases and your body hangs on to fat. This leads to weight gain, and many dieters end up back where they started or worse.
To break the frustrating cycle, make small, permanent lifestyle changes instead. These include exercise, cutting out processed and sugary foods, and eating nutrient-dense, whole foods rich in fiber and protein.
These kinds of changes will prolong and improve your life, even if your weight loss is slow or small.
Sugar and Processed Foods
Regularly downing sugary foods and beverages, is one of the worst things you can do to your body. It can have many negative effects on your health.
While sugar is naturally found in foods like fruits and vegetables, this type has little effect on your blood sugar and is considered very healthy.
The danger is from added sugars in processed foods, such as candy, cakes, soda, sports drinks, ice cream, iced tea, and sweetened coffee drinks, can easily enlarge your waistline. Sugar intake not only leads to weight gain but also an increased risk of chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Choose a diet based on whole foods, rather than highly processed alternatives, to be fully in control of your sugar intake and not consume excess amount of it.
Many factors can contribute to unintentional weight gain.
For people who have unexplained weight gain the most common cause, by far, is related poor sleep, sedentary activities, and eating too many processed or sugary foods.
If you are gaining weight for no apparent reason and you believe you are eating reasonably and getting a fair amount of physical activity, you should consult with your doctor about whether you might have one of the other potential causes of weight gain.