We can all agree that if we follow an unhealthy diet consisting of huge portions of fried foods, high calorie sugary desserts, with soft drinks and alcoholic beverages we’re going to gain weight. We’ll get fat. It’s just the math. If you consume more calories than you use up in physical activity the weight just piles on.
But when you do exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet watching your calories, how is it then that you still put on the pounds? This is just crazy because the “rules” say this won’t happen, yet the numbers on your scale tell you otherwise.
There are a number of things to look at if you really are watching your calories yet still gaining weight while exercising on a regular basis. It’s probably a few factors working in concert that are causing the weight gain.
Maintaining or even losing weight can be complicated as there are a lot of different things that can affect your success. It’s never just one thing it is usually a combination of factors that influence this.
Be Aware of the Factors That Can Influence Your Weight
1. Being under Stress Can Cause Weight Gain
The demands of society these days can be very stressful. We are being pushed beyond our limits day in and day out. Stress can act as a motivator and help us cope but there is no doubt that too much stress will affect our state of mind and our emotional well-being.
When we respond to stress by taking on too many responsibilities, juggling way too much due to financial demands or by using our “fight-or-flight” response we will trigger a biochemical reaction. Our body will move into survival mode by slowing down its metabolism, storing fuel and producing chemicals like cortisol, leptin and a number of other hormones. All of this can cause obesity, especially in the abdomen.
To help cope with stress many open the refrigerator. But eating is only a temporary fix as it doesn’t relieve the cause of the stress. This must be taken care of so the impulse to eat when you’re not hungry is reduced and the real stressor is addressed and dealt with.
The assistant director at UCLA’s Center for Human Nutrition, Susan Bowerman, MS, RD claims that stress eaters grab foods that are high in carbohydrates. They do this because carbohydrates increase serotonin, a chemical in the brain that tends to calm people down. This is a form of self-medication she adds, and that people who binge on starches are just making themselves feel better.
The solution is to exercise more and practice some relaxation techniques. You’ll burn calories and reap other benefits for your health.
2. Too Little Sleep Can Cause Weight Gain
Your body can only function at its optimum when you’re well rested. If you aren’t getting enough sleep you’re putting yourself under stress physiologically. Under these conditions you will store more fat due to your resulting biochemistry.
When you’re tired and sleepy you’re unable to handle stress like you normally would. You may also grab a bite here and there just to cope. If you’re up late at night, snacking may be an issue as you may think that a snack will help you get back to sleep. But you’re adding calories and they won’t be worked off.
You can tell if you’re not getting enough sleep if you are low on energy, fatigued for no reason, becoming irritable and of course if you find yourself nodding off during the day. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Make an effort to maintain good sleeping habits and continue exercising regularly. This will help you sleep more soundly.
3. Medications may be Causing Your Weight Gain
Certain common medications for treating mood disorders, migraines, depression, diabetes and blood pressure can cause patients to put on weight. This can range from a small amount up to as much as 10 pounds a month. If you’re on hormone replacement therapy, certain s******s or oral contraceptives these can cause a gradual increase in weight. Check your medicine cabinet if you’ve gained at least 5 pounds in a given month with no change in your eating or exercise regimen.
Each medication will work in a different way to bring out a weight gain. Some just increase your appetite, others affect insulin levels and others alter the way you store fat. Everyone taking these medications reacts differently so people will not have the same side effects.
When people take antidepressants they may gain weight, not because of the drug, but because they’re feeling better and just have a stronger appetite. There are drugs that cause patients to retain fluid which causes the scale to go up. But fluid isn’t fat and this can usually be corrected.
The following are the types of medications that may cause a gain in weight:
- Antiseizure medications
- Diabetes medications
- Heartburn medications
- High blood pressure medications
- Anabolic drugs
Things need to be put in perspective however and we all need to be reminded that a few extra pounds may be worth it if the medication we’re on is improving our health. Also it’s important to keep in mind that although your medication may be contributing to your weight gain this should not be used as an excuse. You still need to eat healthy and exercise regularly. It doesn’t happen very often that a weight problem gets solved by changing medications. Medication is rarely the only cause of gaining weight.
If you think a certain medication you’re taking may be causing you to gain weight, have a talk with your physician about changing prescriptions. But you should definitely not go off your medication unless you have been advised to by your doctor. This could cause a serious threat to your health so make sure you speak with your physician.
4. A Medical Condition May be Causing Your Weight Gain
Hypothyroidism is a common medical condition that can cause weight gain. When there is a lack of the thyroid hormone this slows down metabolism, decreasing appetite but causing weight gain.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism are a feeling of being tired all the time, sleeping way too much, being lethargic, having headaches, a hoarse voice, and being unable to handle cold. If you have these symptoms see your physician for a test to find out if you indeed have hypothyroidism.
Another condition that causes weight gain is Cushing’s syndrome. This is a lot more rare and is caused by having too much of the hormone cortisol in your system. This can bring about a weight gain.