Everyone experiences weight fluctuations over time. Unintentional weight gain can be a mystery, something that “sneaks up” on you. Many factors play a part in weight gain or loss—some of which are out of your control. If you’ve noticed you’ve gained a lot of weight and don’t know why, keep reading. This article will detail the reasons for weight gain and issues that often go unnoticed.
How Weight Gain Works
Diet and activity levels have a direct correlation to our weight. Our bodies use the calories in our food to give us energy. Everyone’s recommended daily caloric intake is different as it depends on your height, sex, and current weight.
Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is the number of calories you need to perform your everyday tasks or exercise and Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body expends at rest. To find out how many calories you need to eat in a day, you can calculate your TDEE. For example, a 5’ 5” sedentary woman weighing 150lbs should eat around 1,592 calories a day to maintain that weight.
Eating more than your TDEE is what leads to weight gain. Diets typically follow the principle calories in, calories out (CICO). To practice CICO you need to eat at a caloric deficit or exercise away extra calories.
Although, weight loss is not always so cut and dry.
Reasons Why You May Have Gained a Lot Of Weight
Sometimes, even if you’ve been tracking your calories and working out every day, the scale won’t budge. Or, the number just keeps rising. Here are some reasons why you might be gaining weight despite doing all the right things.
You Have a Hormonal Imbalance
Weight loss is already a difficult thing to maintain and if you have a hormonal imbalance, it’s even more challenging. Your hormones are responsible for regulating and influence levels of levels, sleep, emotions, reproduction, weight and appetite. If you have a hormonal imbalance you can experience mood swings, loss of sex drive, trouble sleeping, substantial weight gain, and more.
It’s crucial to have your hormone levels checked if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms. Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, certain medications like birth control, and menopause all influence hormone levels. Low estrogen may impact your quality of life.
You’re Under Stress
Stress is often something you cannot control, nor can you control the effect it has on your body. When a person is stressed, levels of the hormone cortisol are raised. Also called the fight or flight signal, cortisol is released when someone faces a threat, real or imagined.
Spikes in cortisol levels lead to spikes in blood glucose levels. When your glucose levels naturally fall, you “crash” and experience fatigue and food cravings (especially for sweet foods). These hormone fluctuations explain why you may seek out sugar-filled comfort foods. Feeding this craving could lead to a cycle of blood sugar spikes and crashes.
Cushing Syndrome is a hormonal disorder marked by too much cortisol. Symptoms of Cushing Syndrome include weight gain, excessive hunger, and depression.
You’re Eating the Wrong Foods
Unfortunately, many “diet” foods are just a marketing gimmick. Brands use images of slim figured silhouettes and elaborate produce displays to draw in dieters. Companies also make their food low-fat or use words and phrases such as “skinny,” “all-natural,” “better for you,” “naturally sweetened” or even “family-owned farm” to make consumers believe their product is good for diets.
Many of these foods are highly processed, easy to snack on or binge, low-volume/high calorie, and don’t offer substantial nutrients such as fiber or protein. This type of food leads to mindless overeating, rapid blood sugar spikes and crashes, and weight gain.
Your Sodium Intake is Too High
While a high-sodium diet may not be directly responsible for weight gain, it could stop the scale from budging. Sodium causes your body to retain water, which could give you a false reading on the scale. There’s some speculation as to whether sodium can influence weight gain, but since high-calorie foods contain more sodium, it could be excess calories.
Foods high in sodium, such as potato chips, canned soups, cured meats, frozen dinner entrees, and fast food should be eaten sparingly. Too much sodium has been shown to raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
You Aren’t Counting All Of Your Calories
If you are counting your calories in effort to lose or maintain your weight, you may be using a calorie tracker. Calorie trackers are indispensable sources as they show you what the highest calorie foods in your diet are and what days you are most likely to overeat. However, it won’t work unless you track everything. Many people fall in the trap of “it’s just one piece of candy/cake/pizza/etc., it won’t hurt”. These are hidden calories you are unlikely to add to your calorie tracker. When you look at your week it will appear as you ate at a deficit, even though you didn’t.
You’re unlikely to remember these calories and may wind up frustrated by the reading on your scale. Other hidden calories you’re unlikely to track are in drinks, oils and butter used in cooking, coffee creamer, or unmeasured/improperly measured foods.
If you want to be stricter with your calorie tracking, log the foods you eat before you eat them so you remember. A food scale is also a helpful tool to get accurate measures on foods and their calorie and nutrient counts.
Don’t Wait to Solve Your Weight Problems
As you can see, there are many reasons why you may have gained a lot of weight. Some of these factors are out of your control, like hormone levels. If you think a hormone imbalance is behind your recent weight gain or is impeding your efforts of weight loss, we can help.
Our board-certified physicians specialize in hormone optimization and bioidentical hormone replacement for those living with hormone imbalances associated with peri-menopause and post-menopause. With ReVital, you’ll get comprehensive treatment in a safe environment.
We have clients from their early 30s all the way through their 70s. Contact us today for a free consultation. Our staff is ready to help you.