Life is a crazy thing pulling us in all sorts of directions. We need to be here and there and somehow make it home in time to prep for dinner and lunches the next day.
In the midst of all the craziness, finding time for yourself and for exercise just never seems to top the list.
Whether weight crept up on you over time or it rapidly stacked on, we have talked with experts all over the U.S. to provide insights into those pesky pounds and what might be causing the weight to stay.
Here are 15 weird reasons for your sudden weight gain.
When you’re stressed, you look for more comfort foods rather than something healthy for you like a green smoothie or a salad. So, when people dive in for those sugary foods, that’s when we can see weight gain.
Jacqueline Pirtle, a happiness coach and author of “365 Days of Happiness,” says that stress can cause an out-of-whack relationship with food.
“Everything and everyone is energy and always connected with each other through these energies — sharing at all times. You are energy and so is your food. Connecting with your food before it enters your body means that you are connecting with its energy and gaining the most out of that exchange; the result being, you need less food,” she says.
2. Lack of sleep
If you’re clocking in less than six hours of sleep at night, this may be another reason for sudden weight gain. In fact, a study found that nearly 40 percent of adults say they sleep fewer than six hours a night, and 38 percent of those in the study were classified as obese.
Chris Brantner, a certified sleep science coach, says that the one thing people often overlook when it comes to weight gain is sleep.
“People who sleep six hours or fewer on average consume an additional 300+ calories per day as a result,” Brantner says. “This is largely due to the fact that sleep deprivation causes an increase in levels of Ghrelin, a hunger hormone, and a decrease in levels of leptin, a hormone that helps you feel full.”
3. Not drinking enough water
Water is the holy grail of everything we do for our body. Incorporating more water into your lifestyle is the best thing you can do and gives your body a clean slate to run on every day.
A study from the Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism found the following: “In 14 healthy, normal-weight subjects (seven men and seven women), we assessed the effect of drinking 500 ml of water on energy expenditure and substrate oxidation rates by using whole-room indirect calorimetry. The effect of water drinking on adipose tissue metabolism was assessed with the microdialysis technique.”
The results? Researchers determined “Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30 percent.”
Experts advise you to put yourself on a schedule when trying to drink more water, such as drinking a certain amount in the morning, before lunch, and before dinner.
4. Not eating enough protein
Having a low protein diet can cause low energy levels and may also be a sign of weight gain. Protein is amazing for our bodies because it is more satiating than carbohydrates or fats.
In one study, the focus was on high protein diets and men, and the effects of a low-calorie diet. Researchers put overweight men on a 12-week low-calorie diet, where one group was given a “diet consisting of 25 percent protein and the other was given a diet with 14 percent protein.”
The men were asked to complete a series of questions every hour. Researchers found that the men in the high-protein group felt fuller during the day, “had less desire to eat at night, and were less preoccupied with thoughts of food.”
The bottom line: if you replace snacking on chips and other non-healthy foods with high protein foods like nuts and peanut butter, this will help set your body up for success.
5. Artificial sweeteners
Rebecca Lee, an RN in New York and founder of Remedies For Me, says artificial sweeteners are not as good for you as people think.
“Many people use sugar substitutes as a weight-loss aid, but these sweeteners may actually contribute to weight gain,” she says.
In fact, one study found that “mice fed saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame developed glucose intolerance, a metabolic condition associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes. The artificial sweeteners altered the animals’ gut microbiomes towards a balance of bacteria associated with metabolic diseases.”
Having a bowel movement can set you back in more ways than one. When you aren’t going number two on a regular basis, there may be an underlying issue present or more fiber needed in your diet.
Shannon Conklin, a certified colon hydrotherapy Instructor, weighed in.
“When we don’t poop regularly, waste, toxins and even hormones that our body is trying to rid itself of can get reabsorbed into our body. We all know that hormonal imbalance leads to weight gain,” she warns. “The waste also hardens and sits in the pockets of our colon. Rotting waste helps parasites, bad bacteria and fungus thrive. All of this leads to inflammation and weight gain.”
7. Eating too much salt
If you’ve been eating a lot of foods with added salt, this could be causing your body to retain water and hold onto excess weight.
Giovanna Abraham, a fitness professional and bikini athlete, advises, “Starting a new training program causes tears in the muscle and the muscle fills with water, causing additional weight gain as your body adjusts and begins to redistribute muscle and sculpt all over. “
Abraham also cautions to be aware of the foods you order at restaurants because salt may be hiding in foods you don’t expect.
“If you order a salad with dressing or cheese already mixed in it, you have to be careful. Sometimes these dressings and other toppings in a single sitting can be in upwards of over 500 calories! If you’re doing this daily, the weight will add on pretty quickly. Consider asking for dressing on the side,” she adds.
8. Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)
CIRS is a form of chronic inflammation that can alter the leptin receptors in the hypothalamus that affect satiety (we’ve heard this word before).
CIRS can cause other chronic pain disorders such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, mold-related illness, chronic Lyme, and others.
9. Magnesium deficiency
“Magnesium is crucial for healthy weight loss because it activates hundreds of enzymes that control digestion, absorption, and the utilization of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates,” Boris Levitsky, stress management and diet expert, warns.
“It’s hard to lose weight if your metabolism and your energy production aren’t working efficiently. We can’t feel what’s going on at the cellular level but we do know that our cells produce energy in the mitochondria. So, if you experience low energy, your cells aren’t working as efficiently as they should,” he adds.
Not familiar with the word? Well, we can almost guarantee you’ve had at least one in your life.
Ice cream, mayonnaise, margarine, chocolate, and sausage are just a few emulsifiers that could be in your everyday diet, according to Lee.
In one study, which was performed on mice, the results found that emulsifiers alter gut bacteria, causing inflammation. Mice fed water containing emulsifiers became obese and developed metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease.
MSG is an ingredient found in most fast-food restaurants. According to Lee, MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a flavor enhancer found in Chinese-associated dishes.
According to a study of 750 Chinese men and women, “those who consumed the most MSG in their cooking were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than those who consume any. The increase in obesity risk was independent of physical activity and total calories consumed.”
12. Environmental chemicals
There could be some not-so-good things lingering in the air around us that could be entering our bodies.
According to Lee, “Many environmental chemicals have resulted in weight gain when tested on animals in low, non-toxic doses. Examples include heavy metals, solvents, coolants, pesticides and plastics (such as BPA, used in food and beverage containers).”
13. Eating low-fat foods
If you’re consuming low-fat food, this could lead you to eat more because in our minds it’s low-fat and acceptable! Lee advises if you’re trying to lose weight to avoid processed foods, fast foods, and “intensively farmed foods.”
“Gram for gram, fat has more than twice as many calories as protein or carbohydrates, so people tend to assume that foods labeled ‘low fat’ are good for weight loss,” Lee shares.
I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out.
When trying to get back into our fitness routine, we find ourselves thinking, “I just ran two miles so now I can go eat some French fries.” Unfortunately, that’s not how it all works.
Ruggero Loda, an athlete, says, “I see in a lot of people that start running to trim some fat. The cause is that they feel in a place like, ‘I exercised now, so I can have an orange juice and a slice of cake!’ In reality, the calories they have consumed during the activity are less than the calories they are eating as a reward for such activity.”
When finishing up your workout, don’t head straight to drinks with the girls. Go home and prepare yourself a nice protein shake to help your muscles grow!
15. Kidney failure
If you rapidly gain weight, there could be an issue with how your kidneys are functioning.
When your kidneys are holding onto excess fluids, your body can appear swollen. So while you may think you’re gaining weight, it’s your body swelling in reaction to the fluid retention of your kidneys.
Many medications can also cause kidney failure so be sure to check with your doctor.