It is possible for you to be gaining weight unintentionally, and it can be really frustrating when you can’t understand why you’re gaining the weight. There are several factors that may be causing this. One or more of those factors that may surprise you.
Research has shown the surprising fact that lack of sleep or of good quality sleep plays a part in causing you to gain weight while food choices remain the leading cause. Here are some of the most likely reasons you are gaining weight unintentionally.
Consuming too many highly processed foods. Plain yogurt, frozen fruit, and oats are just a few of the healthy foods that are minimally processed. On the flip side, unhealthy fats, preservatives, added sugars, and a slew of harmful ingredients are packed into microwave dinners, fast food, and sugary cereals that are some of the most highly processed foods. Several studies have shown the United States and other countries worldwide are experiencing an alarming increase in the rate of obesity due to consumption of these highly processed foods. These foods tend to make us feel full because of the high calories they contain, but in spite of the calories, they lack vital nutrients like fiber and protein and more.
Eating too much sugar. You are probably aware your waistline can be expanding at a troubling rate by consuming sweetened coffee drinks, iced tea, ice cream, sports drinks, soda, cakes, candy, and a whole host of other sugary foods and beverages. Several studies have associated sugar intake with a high probability of being at risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. Reducing your sugar intake is important to ward off chronic illness and to help control your weight.
Having a sedentary lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle is one where there’s no real form of regular exercise included in your routine. Examples of sedentary activities include using a computer or phone, driving, watching TV and working a desk job. Several studies have linked some chronic diseases and weight gain to inactivity. However, you can make a huge difference when you make some simple adjustments to your lifestyle. These adjustments could range from riding your bike to work, investing in a standing desk or a treadmill desk or walking during your lunch break and or after dinner.
Engaging in yo-yo dieting. Whenever you try to lose weight and maintain it, you end up putting the weight back on; too often you gain even more weight! Known as “yo-yo dieting”, this repeated process gives your body the message you are starving. Because your body is designed to save you, it holds on to that weight you are trying so desperately to lose! Studies have shown individuals have a high propensity to gain weight over time with this pattern of lose-gain.
Additionally, some studies have mentioned that changes in hunger and fullness hormones (ghrelin & leptin), can lead to weight gain from restrictive eating and dieting. Simply put, it’s been proven that making yourself go through restrictive dieting may actually come back at you and make you gain more weight in future years. Because of this, it’s actually best to shift your attention to sustainable lifestyle changes if your goal is to keep weight off long term. Habits like eating nutrient-filled food, reducing processed and sugary foods, and exercising can help.
Having an undiagnosed medical issue. Some medical conditions do play a role in contributing to unintentional weight gain, irrespective of other lifestyle factors. Here are some of these medical conditions:
- Binge eating disorder (BED). Weight gain and a host of other health complications are the consequences of this disorder. People who have BED find it difficult to control their overeating tendencies.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This is a condition that can make it difficult for women to lose weight and can actually make you gain weight. Women who are of reproductive age are often affected by this medical condition that’s marked by hormonal imbalances.
- Depression. Obesity and weight gain have been linked to this common mental condition. When you are depressed, you may find food helps you feel better, at least for a while. Especially the highly processed foods that light up the pleasure centers in your brain can help you feel more “up” for fifteen to twenty minutes before they drop you again leaving you craving another sweet, processed comfort treat!
- Other conditions. Weight gain has also been associated with Cushing’s disease and with Type 2 diabetes.
Prescription Drugs. In addition to the medical conditions listed above, you can also gain weight through antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants, and a few other medications. If you feel your medication may be playing a role in weight gain, it’s best to speak to your health care professional.
Not getting enough sleep. As funny as this may sound, lack of sleep can contribute to your weight. Though it might sound somewhat confusing, studies have shown that weight loss can be increased by more sleep time. While weight gain can be triggered by insufficient sleep, it’s best to get adequate sleep because it’s essential for your well-being and overall health. Experiment with going to bed at a consistent time, reducing your caffeine intake, and limiting your screen time before bed if you have poor sleep quality. Making these changes have been shown to help.
Not eating enough whole foods. To improve your health and promote weight loss, an effective route is to begin eating a diet rich in whole foods. Go for nutrient-dense foods, eat nutrient-filled and whole, minimally processed foods, and reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates, bad fats and added sugars. Maximize your vegetable intake and you will be helping your body unwanted pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Seeds, nuts, eggs, beans, fruits, and vegetables are some of the nutrient-dense whole foods you can add to your diet.
Being stressed out all the time. Does this sound strange? Stress has proven to be a factor that can be a factor in weight gain. The psychology behind this is that when some people are stressed, they tend to consume highly palatable, calorie-dense foods rather than nutrient dense foods. The result is usually weight gain. Studies have shown that people who have a high stress level tend to feel very hungry because of their high level of cortisol, a stress hormone. Weight loss can be promoted by practicing stress management like exercising, meditation and other relaxation practices to reduce stress.
Eating too many calories. This is, of course, one of the most obvious reasons for weight gain. However, what makes it less obvious is that most people don’t know the number of calories contained in the food they eat. You have a greater chance of gaining weight if you burn fewer calories per day, compared to the number of calories you consume daily. If you’re struggling with overeating, you may want to consult a registered dietitian, who can help you determine your calorie needs.
Getting a handle on why you may be gaining weight is job one when it comes to taking control of your weight and your health. Going on yet another diet is not the answer.
Reach for a salad or a carrot and some hummus the next time you crave something crunchy. Be patient with yourself as true weight loss is the result of slow and steady eating lifestyle changes.
For more information on this, please check out my new book, “The Major Method” where I share what I took off my plate to lose 20 pounds without trying to diet.
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
I’m author, health guru, and entrepreneur Cheryl A Major, and I would love to connect with you. If you’re new to the world of creating a healthier menu and wellness plan for yourself, please check out my signature program The Anti-Diet Solution. Learn how to lose weight without dieting. You may lose a whole lot more…like depression, which is exactly what happened to me!
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