Weight gain does not happen overnight. It often sneaks up on us, whether it be from overindulging a few too many times, skipping your weekly gym sessions, or a combination of several things. Wondering why you’re packing on the pounds? These eight reasons might be to blame for why you’re gaining weight.
1. Sleep deprivation
Sometimes we can’t help losing sleep. It’s hard to get all you need to do fit into one day, while simultaneously maintaining your relationship with loved ones and friends, in addition to hitting the gym and getting in one episode of your favorite TV show.
Losing sleep is hard on our bodies in countless ways. Day in and day out we are consistently tired and may not perform as well at work or in our relationships. But in terms of our weight, sleep deprivation may be even more detrimental. Male adults, ages 26 to 54, need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. When the required amount of sleep isn’t met, we make decisions that cause us to gain weight.
“We have very substantial research that shows if you shorten or disturb sleep, you increase your appetite for high-calorie dense foods,” says Charles Samuels, MD, medical director of the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance in Calgary, Alberta. The hormones in our body also change. Ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, goes up when we lose sleep and leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, goes down when we lose sleep. These hormonal imbalances cause us to overindulge the next day because our body is falsely telling it to. When you overeat due to lack of sleep, it has nothing to do with your actual hunger levels. When you gain weight, that leads to a series of complications such as diabetes, decreased cardiovascular health and decreased overall well-being.
2. Eating healthy
Although it sounds insane, eating healthy can cause us to eat more than we would normally. Because we are eating healthy, we assume we may not be getting enough calories, or we aren’t fully satisfied, so we eat more. In addition, eating healthy for long periods of time with no unhealthy variations, aka a cheat day, we may find ourselves overindulging whenever we get the chance. Don’t think too much about sticking to a strict regimen, and nourish your body with what it wants from time to time.
3. Liquid calories
Some days, nothing sounds more delicious than sipping on a hot, sugary cup of goodness on your way to work. But when you shell out those $5 for a too-small drink, you’re giving up more than you think. Liquid calories are one of the top ways to gain weight without realizing it. When you let yourself be treated too often, you are inhaling almost a full extra meal each time. This adds up.
Opt for water, sparkling water or a low-calorie drink that tastes good without the calories.
Many people in America are indeed allergic to gluten, or possess gluten insensitivity, but when many see the words “gluten-free” on a label they immediately think it’s a healthy food. Gluten-free cookies? Magically healthy! Gluten-free pasta? Let’s have more! Gluten-free unhealthy foods are just as unhealthy as regular foods. Unless you are gluten sensitive, there is no reason to eat gluten-free foods. Stick to a clean, balanced diet and research what some of these labels mean before you assume. Plus, you’ll save money!
According to MindBodyGreen, many of the gluten-free alternatives, like rice, oats, and corn, are highly inflammatory. The article, written by Dr. William Cole, says, “When going gluten-free is done wrong, it’s the overpriced food version of diet soda; just as unhealthy as the original, if not more.”
5. Making excuses/justifications
Duh, right? It seems obvious but the more times we justify why we can eat something unhealthy, or justify reasons to not go to the gym, the easier it gets to evade a healthy lifestyle. The more excuses we make, the more weight we gain. Hold your ground! Find ways to distract yourself, including getting a friend or significant other to join you in your healthy journey.
6. Your workouts have plateau’d
A training plateau is when you are no longer progressing in your workouts and seeing the results that you’d like. One plateaus when they perform the same workout routine multiple times without ever changing it up. Many people who wish to gain muscle plateau very easily because they are performing the same exercises over and over. If you find yourself in a workout rut or gaining weight, change up your routine.
Another, duh. Stress causes us to either starve ourselves or eat everything in sight. Elissa Epel, PhD, tells WebMD that stress is connected to an increased appetite due to hormones that are released when we feel stressed. According to Prevention, “You get a burst of adrenaline, which taps stored energy so you can fight or flee. At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven’t used very many calories.” And when this hunger comes on, we tend to crave sugary or salty foods. In short: because that energy our adrenaline tapped into was never used, all we do when we stress eat is pack on the pounds.
8. Inconsistent healthy eating
You lost weight, congrats. You may have tried to lose this weight, or this weight magically disappeared. (Don’t we all wish for the latter?) When we realize we lose weight, sometimes we automatically turn off our awareness for exercise and health and slip back into old habits. This also goes for weeks of diet after diet. Consistency is key with anything you do.