While we know that eating a lot of processed and convenience food and not exercising can cause weight gain, there are other less obvious reasons.
Lack of sleep: When you don’t get enough sleep, it can affect your metabolism and lead to weight gain and obesity. People who sleep a short time were found in studies to have excess body weight and changed appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin, which controls hunger, decreased and ghrelin, which promotes hunger, increased.
Stress: We all live stressful fast-paced lives but sometimes the intensity gets to the point when we are in a “flight or fight” mode. Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” is secreted, which causes an increase in appetite. Also during times of stress, we tend to reach for “comfort food” which usually is high-calorie. This is the perfect storm for weight gain.
Medications: Some medications have the unfortunate side-effect of weight gain. These include antidepressants such as Prozac, antipsychotics that treat schizophrenia and bipolar, and medications to treat migraines, seizures, high blood pressure and diabetes. Beware that some people gain weight because their appetite increases due to feeling better on medication and that depression also can cause weight changes. Anti-inflammatory steroid medications like prednisone typically cause weight gain through fluid retention and increased appetite. Some people on steroids experience shifts in body fat to places like the face, the belly, or the back of the neck. If you’ve taken steroids for more than a week, don’t stop them abruptly, which can cause serious problems. If you need to be on medication, work with your doctor to find one that treats your symptoms with fewer side effects.
Hypothyroidism: When your thyroid (the butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck) is making insufficient amounts of hormones, your metabolism slows and you’re more likely to gain weight and feel tired, weak, and cold. Even a thyroid functioning at the low end of the normal range might cause weight gain.
Cushings Syndrome: This is a condition in which people experience too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn causes weight gain and other abnormalities. The weight gain may be most prominent around the face, neck, upper back, or waist. Causes are taking steroids for asthma, arthritis, or lupus, adrenal glands making too much cortisol or a tumor.
Age and menopause: Your metabolism slows as you age so you burn fewer calories. Lifestyle changes such as less exercise also play a role. Most women undergoing menopause gain some weight, typically around the waist.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome: PCOS is a common hormonal problem in women of childbearing age. Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries and experience hormonal imbalances that cause irregular menstrual cycles. Women with PCOS are resistant to insulin (the hormone that controls blood sugar), which can cause weight gain. The weight tends to collect around the belly as in metabolic syndrome, putting these women at greater risk for heart disease.
Binge eating and emotional eating: Women with eating disorders tend to binge on food and gain weight and then restrict their eating or purge to regain control and lose weight. It’s important to address the underlying issues. Engaging in emotional eating often leads to over-eating and unhealthy choices resulting in weight gain.
Do you need more guidance about healthy eating? Make sure you get access to my free Quick Start Guide to a Paleo Diet. www.22s.com/strong/quickguide
AUTHOR: Christine Lehmann, MA, NTP holds a master’s degree in public health and journalism and is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) by the Nutritional Therapy Association. She has a private nutrition practice specializing in reversing diabetes naturally. She sees clients in her Alexandria office and by Skype. Christine is also a faculty member of the Wellness Council of America and provides corporate wellness services to companies in Northern Virginia. Christine is an award winning health writer and wellness blogger, and host of the popular Real World Paleo podcast. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and her Website is www.reversediabetescoach.com