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weight gain causes

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If you eat well and haven’t changed the way you eat, it can feel very unfair to put on weight. It can also be a helpless feeling. When you’re already watching what you consume, making good choices, counting calories, and depriving yourself of “bad” foods, and you see that number creep up on the scale, you can wonder, “Well…what else am I supposed to do?!” You don’t want to make yourself feel hungry in order to maintain a healthy weight. Maybe friends and family tell you to just accept it, saying that, “You can’t have a perfect body forever!” But it’s not really up to them to say that. In fact, there are 80-year-olds in impeccable shape, so being, looking and feeling your best is for all ages. It still is frustrating when you’re struggling to close your jeans and you haven’t made a single change to your diet. What gives?

Food isn’t the only thing that contributes to our figure. Even though calorie consumption is the biggest determining factor of our weight, far more than exercise even, there are other things that can be creeping in and making your weight creep up. Your body is complex, and it’s sensitive. It responds to the smallest of changes in the biggest of ways. So your weight gain could have something to do with a rather surprising factor. Here are non-dietary things that cause weight gain.

weight gain causes

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Sleep deprivation

If you needed another reason to clock some more Z, know that your waistline can pay for it if you don’t sleep enough. Several studies have been conducted examining the relationship between sleep and weight and consistently found that those who sleep less tend to have larger waist circumferences than those who sleep more. One study tracked women who followed the same weight loss regimen and were broken into two groups – one sleeping more than the other. The group that slept less lost 55 percent less weight than the group that slept more. Some experts believe the phenomenon is connected to a hormone called leptin. Leptin helps us feel full, and sleep-deprived individuals may have less of it.

weight gain causes

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Polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by enlarged ovaries that contain cysts. The medical community debates what exactly causes it, pointing to both environmental and genetic factors. When women suffer from PCOS they can suffer several symptoms including irregular periods, depression, and even infertility, but they might also suffer weight gain. PCOS often correlates with insulin resistance, which makes it harder for the body to convert sugar from food into energy, and might make the body more likely to store it as fat. In fact, doctors often prescribe some of the same medication used to treat diabetes to treat PCOS.

weight gain causes

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Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is most commonly found in middle-aged women and those older. It is a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone. It can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, sensitivity to cold, and constipation, but it can also lead to weight gain. Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain because it causes your metabolism to slow, meaning you burn fewer calories and convert more to fat. Doctors often treat hypothyroidism with a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine which, when consumed in the proper dosage, can be quite effective and cause little to no side effects.

weight gain causes

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Constipation

Being constipated shouldn’t make a tremendous difference when it comes to your weight, but it probably makes a difference in the appearance of your gut. When you’re backed up, you can see that little pouch in your belly, which can make you look bloated. If you deal with chronic constipation, carrying that waste actually can add some pounds, as the average poop weighs nearly a pound. For individuals who are regularly backed up, they may be carrying several days’ worth of waste at any given time, which can add several pounds to their weight. So it’s important to take probiotics, eat lots of fruits and veggies, and take other steps to prevent constipation for many reasons, including bowel health.

weight gain causes

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Aging

As you age, your body tends to lose muscle weight, as well as struggle to build muscle. As our muscles get smaller, we struggle to convert calories into energy, and they can easily turn into fat. It doesn’t help that other ailments that come with age, like joint pain, fatigue, and back problems, can make it hard to feel motivated to exercise. But even though it will require extra work, if you are able to find safe exercises, building more muscle may help you burn more calories and stay in fighting shape. You’ll have to work harder at it than you did when you were younger, but it will be worth it.

weight gain causes

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Water weight

Water weight is a real thing. Even though we may jokingly say we’ve put on water weight after enjoying too many nights at the buffet at a resort, the truth is that fluid retention can cause you to look and be heavier. One major thing that causes water retention is consuming high amounts of salt. High-sodium foods can be low in calories, but if they lead to fluid retention, their low-calorie sticker doesn’t do you much good. Hormonal changes can also lead to fluid retention, as can the simple act of riding on an airplane, which is why it’s so hard to feel svelte when you arrive at your vacation destination. Some drugs, including anti-inflammatory and blood pressure drugs, can also lead to fluid retention.

weight gain causes

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A (new) sedentary lifestyle

While this one may seem obvious, it can sneak up on us. A change in routine can quickly mean going from an active lifestyle to a sedentary one. Even just taking on a new role at the same company can mean you go from walking around the office or running errands around town to staying stuck at your computer all day. And if you used to have a truly active job, like dogwalker or babysitter (chasing toddlers is no joke), but finally got your dream job posted up in front of a computer or in meetings all day, you may suddenly be clocking a lot of hours at a desk.

weight gain causes

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Drinking diet soda

Diet soda is a complicated item. It is, in a way, a “dietary” factor, but in many ways, it isn’t since it’s not real food. There’s nothing real about it. But since it has no calories, it can make us feel that we’ve earned the right to consume more of it. We might run with that, and eat more food than we would have had we simply had the regular soda. Even if your diet soda doesn’t affect your eating habits though, research has found that those who drink it regularly are prone to metabolic syndrome, which is associated with a larger waist circumference.

weight gain causes

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Your birth control

Birth control may prevent the major weight gain that comes with pregnancy, both in body fat and literal baby weight, but some forms can cause weight gain for other reasons. Certain birth control injections have been shown to cause substantial weight gain. In some cases, birth control shots can cause nearly 15 pounds of weight gain in a year. Research has found that one shot causes on average 11 pounds of weight gain and a 3.4 percent increase in body fat. If you face this and don’t like it or can’t afford the weight gain, talk to your doctor about switching birth control.

weight gain causes

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You’re stressed

Weight gain may cause stress, but stress can also cause weight gain, which is quite the nasty cycle. When your body perceives a threat, it produces more of a hormone called cortisol, which is also an appetite stimulant. So if you’ve found yourself wanting to eat more when studying for a big test or preparing for job interviews, there’s probably a reason behind that. Eliminating stress from life isn’t an option. Finding ways to improve our body’s response to it, like meditation and breathwork, can keep your cortisol levels in check so at least the insult of weight gain can be removed from the injury of stress.

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