Friday comes to put an end to another week. You missed one workout day, but other than that your routine was the same as ever. And so you get on the scale for your weekly weight check-up and the numbers displayed surprise you: “Why am I gaining so much weight?” you ask.
While small weight fluctuations are normal, if you gain 5 pounds in the span of a week and you’re not on some weight gaining nutrition plan, something might be wrong. Rapid weight gain can be caused by a vast number of factors, and while some of them are simple to overcome, others can be indicators of more serious health problems.
It’s important that you know your body so that you can immediately notice when it changes, how it changes and if it can affect your long-term well-being.
#1 – Eating and lack of exercise
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about weight gain is food and eating habits, immediately followed by exercise routines. These things won’t really make you gain weight too fast, but in the medium term, it will definitely become a problem.
Disproportionally large portions are one of the things that make you gain weight. The restaurant industry contributed to the normalization of supersized meals, as people tend to use the portions they’re served when going out as a standard when cooking at home. Try to understand the amount of food you’re ingesting in a single meal, and take into consideration that a 10% decrease on your meal size can mean a reduction of something like 150 calories or more. And you will probably not even notice.
But the problem could also be the type of food you’re eating. Even though everything you eat may seem apparently healthy, there are some products that are very high in calories and could be the reason behind your unexplainable weight gain.
That’s doesn’t make them necessarily bad, but if you don’t exercise enough, calories will add up. And that brings us to the importance of exercising on a regular basis. Find a type of physical activity you like and build the habit of doing it regularly. Your health and body will be grateful.
If you’re sure you’re eating the ideal amount of healthy food, you might be doing it at the wrong time. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2017) found that when college students ate food just before going to bed, they were more prone to have higher percentages of body fat and body-mass index.
In the end, if you’re a healthy person, it’s just a matter of math. If the number of calories you’re ingesting is superior to the rate your body is burning them, you’re going to gain weight. Try to find the perfect balance.
#2 – Stress and lack of sleep
Stress is not something that affects only your mind. It definitely has a gigantic impact on your body and overall health. It affects your sleep schedule, as it can keep your problems revolving around your head at night when you’re trying to rest.
This causes a series of hormonal changes, like the release of leptin, ghrelin, and cortisol, that affect your metabolism and sense of hunger. The same disturbs can be felt if you’re dealing with mood disorders like depression or anxiety. Or even if you’re a shift worker, as you’re constantly altering your sleeping schedule.
#3 – Medication
Psychiatric medication (for depression or bipolar disorder, for example), meds that combat high blood pressure and birth control pills are the most common drugs that may cause weight gain.
Normally doctors warn you about these potential consequences, recommending you to stay active and follow a strict meal plan. But if they didn’t and you noticed a strange fluctuation on your weight a week after starting a new medication, check its side effects as it could be perfectly normal.
#4 – Health problems
Gaining weight for no apparent reason or combined with other symptoms can be an indication that something’s wrong with your health. We’ll give you a few examples, so you’ll be able to detect the signs of a potential medical issue.
Hypothyroidism: The thyroid is responsible for controlling a variety of body functions, your metabolism being one of them. If your thyroid is not producing enough of its hormone, it will affect your resting metabolism and decrease the number of calories you’re capable of burning during the day. Besides weight gain, hypothyroidism is also responsible for fatigue, dry skin, and thin hair.
Imbalanced electrolytes: If you combine the fact that you don’t drink enough water with the regular ingestion of salty products, it might lead you to gain weight due to water retention and bloating.
Bacterial overgrowth: The overgrowth of bacteria inside your intestines can lead to sudden weight gain, as it can create difficulties in your digestion and slow bowel movement.
Tumors: That’s true. Tumors can cause weight gain, especially if that gain is disproportionally located in the belly region, as is the case for ovarian tumors.
#5 – Quitting smoking
In your first few “smoke-free” months you’ll most likely experience a weight gain. That’s because smoking acts as an appetite suppressant while simultaneously increases your metabolism. Your body is in a healing process, and as your appetitive and metabolism get back to normal, your exercising plan will probably continue the same.
This leads you to increase the amount of ingested calories while maintaining the same physical activity. It is a good idea to pair your decision to quit smoking with the inclusion of a regular workout plan (or the intensity, if you already have one). That’s what they call a win-win situation.
Oh, and one last thing. We recommend you download a weight app to keep track of your weight’s fluctuation, as it can be extremely useful to quickly detect when something’s wrong with your body, or if you’re slowly building unhealthy habits that can subsequently become really hard to get rid of.