You’re eating healthy meals and leading a relatively active lifestyle but your waistline appears to be expanding everyday! Here are a few reasons why you could be gaining weight despite your best efforts.
Conventional wisdom dictates that eating high calorie foods and leading a sedentary lifestyle is a recipe for weight gain. If left unmanaged, this weight gain could lead to obesity. However, it is important to note that weight gain isn’t just about calorie intake and exercise. There could be unusual reasons that lead to an expanding waistline.
Here are possible causes — some medical conditions and some not — which could affect your goal to remain fit and healthy.
Sad and lonely
Depression can cause weight gain. In a 2010 study published in American Journal of Public Health, it was found that people who were feeling sad and lonely could gain weight faster than those who had no symptoms of depression. Aside from that, if you are taking medication for depression, you should take note that certain kinds of medication might cause weight gain as well.
Manage it: If you believe depression could be the reason you’ve been gaining weight lately, speak to a medical expert such as a psychologist about managing your symptoms. If you suspect that your anti-depressants or other medication is having an adverse effect on your weight, speak to your doctor about alternative treatments.
Poor gut heath
Believe it or not, poor gut health could be a cause of weight gain. If you’re experiencing constipation or slow bowel movement and you think it might not do much harm to your weight, you might want to think again. According to the Prevention website, bowel movements should occur one or two hours after you’ve eaten a meal. However, if you’re experiencing constipation or having bowel movements less than once a day, this might account for excess kilos.
Manage it: There are many reasons why digestive issues occur. It could be dehydration, medication or even the lack of good bacteria in your intestines. Eating fibre-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables or probiotics can help to regulate bowel movements. However, if you’re still experiencing digestive issues, even after trying these methods, speak to your doctor as it could be a symptom of an underlying condition.
Lack of sleep
Medical researchers have found a link between lack of sleep and obesity. As published by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a study on 60,000 women nurses showed that women who slept less than 5 hours a night had a 15 percent risk of becoming obese. This is in comparison to women who slept 7 hours a night. The study also found that the group of women who had less sleep was at risk of gaining about 13 kilogrammes within 16 years. Although the exact reason behind this connection remains unclear, similar studies have suggested that lack of sleep can increase hunger stimulating chemicals known as ghrelin, which may motivate you to eat and snack all day.
Manage it: Aim to sleep at least 7 hours at night. Plan a daily schedule that helps you manage your tasks well and be vigilant with the schedule that you have laid out. Remember, compromising your sleep also compromises your waistline.
In your golden years?
Muscles are an efficient calorie burner. However, as you age, your muscle mass tends to decrease especially if you start to engage in fewer activities. Lower muscle mass in your golden years equals ot fewer burned calories. If you’re eating the same amount of calories as you used to when you were physically active, it could lead to weight gain.
Manage it: Reduce the chances of muscle loss by doing weight bearing exercises. Weight bearing exercises are not only great in maintaining your body’s muscle mass, they’re also good for your bones. Examples of weight bearing exercises include walking, hiking and climbing the stairs. Speak to a physiotherapist or your doctor about appropriate weight bearing exercises for you. You could also consult a dietitian who will help ensure that you’re consuming the right amount of calories when you start on this new exercise routine.
It could be PCOS
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition which affects women and their fertility. Symptoms of PCOS include an irregular menstrual cycle, trouble getting pregnant and weight gain especially around the waistline. PCOS is believed to be caused by hormonal issues. Women with PCOS tend to have higher insulin and testosterone levels. The former is believed to be the possible reason why women with PCOS experience weight gain.
Manage it: Exercising regularly and making dietary changes such as cutting back on greasy and fatty food, is a good way to reduce the chances of weight gain for women diagnosed with PCOS. There are also medications available to help manage symptoms. Speak to your gynaecologist about effectively managing symptoms of PCOS.
While gaining two or three kilos may seem harmless at first, it is important to shed excess weight as soon you realise that the numbers on the scale have increased. Weight gain can get very stressful especially if you’re not too sure about the exact cause behind it. Speak to your doctor, who will help you identify the reason behind your weight gain.