50 Surprising Causes of Weight Gain

Posted September 30th, 2008 by Site Administrator in Health, Nutrition (No Comments »)

Are you putting on weight despite your best efforts at eating well and staying fit? There are few things more frustrating than working hard and not seeing results. But don’t lose hope. There could be more culprits at play that are keeping you from achieving your weight loss goals. Here are a few weight gain factors that you and your caregiver should pay attention to.

Medications Some medications may help you out greatly but have side effects that cause you to put on weight. Remember, even if you do suspect your medication is the problem behind your weight gain, never stop taking it without consulting a medical professional.

  1. Steroids. Steroids such as prednisone, often given to suppress inflammation caused by arthritis, skin rashes and asthma, can cause you to retain more water than you should and in effect put on weight.
  2. Antidepressants. If you’re on an SSRI like Prozac or Zoloft, you may be experiencing one of the common side effects, which is weight gain. These medications can decrease your metabolic rate or can cause hormonal changes leading to greater hunger.
  3. Diabetes medications. Diabeta and Diabinese, two medications often prescribed to diabetics, cause sometimes cause weight gain. Be aware, however, that other drugs prescribed for diabetes like Symlin can actually cause you to lose weight.
  4. Heartburn treatments. Those suffering from horrible acid reflux can often find solace in a heartburn medication like Prevacid and Nexium. These drugs can sometimes cause slight weight gain though in some individuals they react differently, causing a weight loss.
  5. Birth control. If you’ve just begun taking birth control and you notice you’ve put on a few pounds, the pill could be the cause. However, weight gain associated with the pill is rarely over a few pounds and should be fairly slight.
  6. Migraine relievers. Migraines can totally sidetrack your day but they may also be sidetracking your diet. Some medications can cause weight gain, so ask a nurse or doctor if you can switch to a different brand which might have less of an effect.
  7. Seizure preventatives. There are several medications out there that can help seizure sufferers but some may cause weight gain, while others like Zonegran can be weight neutral or assist in weight loss.

Lifestyle Small changes in the way you live or elements of your daily life may be to blame for your weight gain.

  1. Going on vacation. If you’ve just gotten back from vacation and noticed you’ve put on a few pounds, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that people often throw good eating habits out the window when they’re on a break, so give yourself a few weeks to get back into the habit of eating right and you’re likely to see the gain go away.
  2. Working too much. Being a workaholic can not only stress you out and lead to weight gain, but it’s more than likely requiring that you spend hours in front of a computer screen, not moving much. This inactivity can cause you to burn few calories than usual and put on a few pounds over time.
  3. Lack of sleep. As odd as it may seem, not getting enough sleep could be a major reason that you’re putting on weight. When you’re tired your body can’t function as it normally would and begins storing more fat.
  4. Stress. Whether you’re stressed about a job, home life or something else, you could be setting yourself up to put on more weight. Our bodies react to stress by slowing down and storing more energy, anticipating hard times ahead.
  5. Relying on "low fat" foods. Don’t fall for the low fat packaging on many supposedly healthy foods. Many of these foods contain just as many calories as their high fat counterparts and aren’t really all that healthy at all.
  6. Not eating enough fiber. Studies have shown the fiber creates a feeling of fullness and satisfaction when eating that can cause you to eat less. If you feel like you just can’t get full, try switching to a higher fiber diet.
  7. Too much high fructose corn syrup. A major ingredient in many sweet treats, this syrupy substance can also be a contributor to weight gain. Your body uses fructose more like a fat than it does glucose, another sugar, which it uses more as an energy source.
  8. Drinking too much soda. While it may help perk you up when you’re dragging after lunch, too much soda can help you to pack on the pounds. Containing loads of high fructose corn syrup not to mention calories, soda can be a quiet culprit in weight gain, so if you can’t give it up at least try switching to diet.
  9. Friends who are overeaters. If you find that when you go out to dinner with your friends that they encourage you to eat more than you should you may be putting on weight that you could otherwise avoid. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid these friends, just do things that don’t involve eating or be firm about being full.
  10. Paying with credit cards at dinner. Studies by major credit card companies have shown that people are inclined to order more food when they are paying by credit card rather than with cash. Keep your hungry eyes from wandering by paying for your meals with paper rather than plastic.
  11. Not eating enough. Oddly enough, starving yourself may have the opposite effect than what you desire, at least at first. When your body is starving it will slow down your metabolism and store energy, causing food to stick around longer. So eat right instead of just eating less.
  12. Quitting smoking. Some people find that they pack on a few pounds after they quit smoking. Of course, this shouldn’t be a deterrent to quitting as the health benefits of not smoking far outweigh the costs of a few pounds. Just work to compensate for the change by adjusting your diet and lifestyle.
  13. Small lifestyle changes. Sometimes your life with undergo small changes that you may not even be aware of related to your eating habits and fitness. Think hard about something that could have changed in your life that would be causing a weight gain.
  14. Settling into a relationship. The old stereotype may be true, being in love can cause you to put on more weight. If you notice that you may be a little less conscious about what you eat nowadays, try to get your sweetie involved as well and make it a dual effort to stay fit and sexy.
  15. Portion size. Just because something is put in front of you doesn’t mean you have to eat it. You may not realize you’re eating far too much due to simply being served more, so watch what you’re eating.
  16. Spending too much time at the bar. Beer and mixed drinks can form a sneaky way for calories to creep into your diet. If you’ve been drinking more than usual your liquid diet could be to blame for your weight gain.
  17. Feeling guilty. Many people feel guilty about putting on weight and get depressed, sometimes giving up or emotionally eating instead. Don’t beat yourself up over a few pounds, just try to do better in the future.
  18. Skipping meals. Skipping meals can slow down your metabolism and cause you to overeat when you do actually sit down to a meal. So space your meals throughout the day to avoid meal related weight gain.
  19. Eating too fast. You may be starving, but slow down and take time to enjoy your meal. It will give your body a chance to register that it’s full before you eat too much.
  20. Not intensifying your workout routine. You may be working out, but are you working hard enough? Over time you need to ramp up your workout routine to get the same effect, so make sure you’re not just working out in name alone.

General Physical Factors Look to these things for possible explanations of strange weight gain.

  1. Menopause. Menopause causes many changes in the body, one possible one being a redistribution of weight in the body, moving from the hips to the midsection. Hormonal changes can also trigger greater appetite, poor sleep and depression.
  2. Food allergies. Some food allergies, even mild ones, may be causing you to put on weight. As odd as it may sound, when you eat these foods you’re allergic to it can cause an addictive effect, making you crave the food even when you’re full.
  3. Aging. Most people, as they age, feel their metabolisms beginning to slow down. If you’re not feeling that its as easy to lose weight as it used to be, take this into account and start working at a program that better reflects your new needs.
  4. Depression. While depression can cause a loss of appetite in some people it can also cause an increase in others. Many eat to fill the sadness they are feeling. This emotional eating is harmful to both your mental and psychical health, so seek medical treatment if you think that this is the case for your weight gain.
  5. Getting a cold. New studies suggest that getting a cold may actually cause you to gain weight. Certain viruses seem to increase the number of cells that develop into fat, causing a marked increase in weight over time.
  6. Inflammation. Many lifestyle factors including stress, smoking and lack of sleep can contribute to inflammation and certain foods can have an inflammatory effect as well. This can lead to weight gains where you feel there should be none.
  7. Your genes. While we are all responsible for our own choices, to some degree our ability to lose and maintain weight is determined by our genes. Some people will need to work harder to lose the pounds than others and will be fighting against their natural propensity for weight gain.
  8. Building muscle. If you’ve been working out a lot and find that you’ve actually put on weight, don’t freak out. It could just be that you’ve put on muscle weight and are healthier than you were before, despite the increased weight.
  9. Pregnancy. While this may be somewhat obvious, pregnancy is a reason for unexplained weight gain and unless you’re entirely sure it’s not the reason for yours don’t completely discount it– many pregnancies are unexpected surprises.
  10. Water retention. Most women are familiar with the bloating that can happen when their menstrual cycles are on the horizon but there are times when this water weight gain can be more serious can caused by kidney or heart failure so it’s important to get unexplained water retention checked out.

Disease and Illness You may be aware you have one of these conditions or just think you might, but it could be the source of your weight gain.

  1. Thyroid problems. A common but sometimes undiagnosed cause of weight gain is hypothyroidism. It causes a deficiency in the thyroid hormones leading to fatigue, weight gain and slowed metabolism though much of the weight loss associated with its regulation comes from loss of accumulated body fluids.
  2. Cushing’s syndrome. This syndrome is caused by an excess of the hormone cortisol in the body, the same one that’s released when you’re feeling stressed, and causes your body to react in much the same way it would to stress, storing energy and putting on weight.
  3. Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency. Essential fatty acids, such as in flaxseed oil, help our bodies to manufacture hormones and maintain a good metabolism. Deficiencies in these can cause cravings for unhealthy foods and metabolic problems and over time, weight gain.
  4. Kidney disease. One of the symptoms of kidney disease can be weight gain due to fluid retention. If you’re noticing an especially large amount of bloating without a particular reason, head to your doctor as soon as you can to rule out this serious condition.
  5. Heart trouble. An sign of heart trouble may actually be weight gain. This can be caused by your body retaining more fluid than usual. If you can push your fingertip into the skin and it leaves a mark rather than springing back you’re retaining water and should head to the doctor.
  6. Blood sugar imbalances. Eating simple carbs can cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar which in turn can cause more cravings for sugary foods as your body struggles to maintain a balance.
  7. Ovarian cysts. Women should look out for polycystic ovary syndrome. It can potentially cause a weight gain of up to 30 pounds over a period of years and over goes unnoticed because it’s so gradual. Caregivers are unsure why exactly it causes weight gain but have noted that it appears to be genetic, so get checked out if you know a family member who’s had it.
  8. Tumors. In women, sometimes rapid, unexplained weight gain can be associated with ovarian tumors. Many of these are benign, but if left unchecked can grow to huge proportions.
  9. Liver dysfunction. Problems with the liver can often be associated with weight gain. Your body may start retaining excess fluid and you will notice a little tightness around your waistline even though you have little appetite. If you suspect this is the reason for your weight gain get to the doctor ASAP.
  10. Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia often causes weight gain as it causes hormonal imbalances, affecting levels of cortisol, thyroid, serotonin and insulin, as well as the production of growth hormones. This means your metabolism can slow down and you can put on weight.
  11. Breast cancer treatments. Women undergoing chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer may find that they are packing on a few extra pounds. This phenomenon is not yet understood, but shouldn’t be a major cause for alarm if treatment is going well.
  12. Adrenal dysfunction. Dysfunctions in the adrenal glands can lead to imbalances in your body’s hormones, upsetting your metabolism and natural balance. Sometimes, this can lead to a noticeable gain in weight.
  13. Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can prevent you from getting a truly restful nights sleep and because of this lack of sleep leave you feeling unrested, stressed out and irritable. Not getting enough sleep can lead to the slowing of your metabolism and sometimes cravings for less than healthy foods.

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