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19 Hidden Causes You’re Gaining Weight | Healthy Mind - Think Big

So you’ve been eating clean, exercising regularly, and following a healthy lifestyle to lose weight. But your scale does not seem to be agreeing with you. In fact, instead of losing weight, you seem to be gaining it! Confused? Hi readers and welcome back to Heathy Mind - Think Big! 

While your exercise and eat-right efforts are still super important for you to achieve flat belly success, several things can cause your waistline to expand. Many of these reasons are downright sneaky or out of your control. And in today’s post, we will tell you what they are. From stress, bad oral hygiene, dehydration, air pollution to thyroid and more, read till the end to learn about all of them.

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash


Without a solid night's rest, your body cannot function properly. When you don’t get the minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep that your body needs, a hormone is secreted that actually makes you feel hungry all day. But in fact, you’re just tired. Studies have also shown that sleep deprivation can cause lower resting metabolic rates. It also impairs brain activity in the frontal lobe, which controls behavior and choices such as choosing what to eat. What’s that one thing that causes you to lose sleep? Tell us quickly down below in the comments section! 


Hormone imbalance is often a culprit of unintentional, and uninvited, weight gain. Certain health conditions, such as menopause can affect hormone balance which causes weight gain. If you have hypothyroidism, taking a prescription pill once daily is often a quick fix. If you think hormonal imbalance is causing your weight gain, see an endocrinologist who can check your levels and go over treatment options with you. 


When your body holds excess water, you’ll start to notice a weight gain. Water retention can be due to medications you're taking, hormone fluctuations, or an underlying health condition. For example, women sometimes hold excess water weight right before or during menstruation. It can also be a sign of something more serious-- such as heart failure, kidney disease, or lymphedema. 


Stress can be sudden, from fright or dangerous situations. Or it can be chronic, from ongoing worries such as unemployment or relationship issues. The body reacts to stress by releasing hormones: adrenaline for ‘fight or flight situations. This is where your body has to get itself out of danger fast, and cortisol for long-term stress. These hormones are designed to help the body survive. And one of the mechanisms for doing this is to encourage and maintain fat storage. Put simply, stress can make you better at storing fat - a backup energy source to assist your survival. 


Steroid medications are well-known causes of weight gain because they increase fluid retention and increase appetite. The amount of weight gain depends on both the dose of the drug and the length of time it is taken. They can also cause a temporary change in body fat distribution, with increased fat in the face, back of the neck, or the abdomen. 


When losing your love handles is the goal, portion size is just as important as eating healthy. The reason: Many nutritious foods - like avocados, oatmeal, quinoa, dark chocolate, nuts, and nut butter - can lead to weight gain when eaten in excess. Unless it’s a fruit or a vegetable, don’t make the assumption that the healthy food you’re eating is low-calorie. Next time you’re whipping up a meal, remember these three portion control cues: 

First, A helping of nut butter or shredded cheese should be no larger than a ping-pong ball; 

Second, a true serving of rice and pasta is about the size of your fist; and 

Third, lean meats should be about the size of a deck of cards. 


If you’ve just started a new workout program, your weight gain may simply be from muscle gains, especially if you're lifting weights regularly. Regardless of whether you’re trying to gain, lose, or maintain your weight, muscle mass gains are usually a good thing. Muscle boosts your metabolism and helps tone up problem areas. However, if you start working out in hopes of losing weight, focus mainly on a cardiovascular exercises like jogging, biking, walking uphill, or using an elliptical machine. 


If you’ve recently stopped smoking, you might start to notice a higher number on the scale. Weight gain is fairly common among smokers when they first quit. The good news is that there are steps you can take to overcome weight gain associated with this. Try getting lots of physical activity, staying busy, drinking plenty of water, and eating lots of fruits and veggies to avoid weight gain when you quit smoking. 


Everyone likes a good late-night snack, but if you're concerned about gaining weight, it's probably best to avoid having one too close to bedtime. Eating less than three hours before you lie down doesn't give your body a chance to burn off those calories before it goes into a low-energy sleeping state. 


Your dental health can have a greater influence on your overall physical health than you may think. How? Well, for one, unhealthy gums can cause you to gain weight! There is a direct link between the inflammation that causes gum disease and inflammation in the rest of the body. When this inflammatory response spreads to the rest of the body, it can cause the body to store fat. It can also make you tired and stressed resulting in weight gain. 


Very rarely will a takeout or restaurant meal have less fat and calories than something you make at home. The more you eat out or order takeout, the more your chances of weight gain increase. 


Just because you worked out doesn't mean you can pig out on a crazy, carb-heavy meal. In fact, doing this could be one of the reasons why you're gaining weight instead of losing it. The problem here is twofold. 

One: You may overestimate the number of calories you've burnt via exercise. 

Two: You’re underestimating the calories eaten via food, especially unhealthy treats. 

It takes many miles of running to burn off that piece of cheesecake–much more than you think. 


Your thyroid plays a big role in the maintenance of your metabolism. And if you have hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid, then your metabolism might be slowed down to the point that you're gaining weight. Having an underactive thyroid can lead to a slower metabolism, which can, and often does, lead to gradual, unsuspecting weight gain. Did you know that you don’t have to depend on just medications for treating your thyroid? Certain foods can help you do that. To know more about them, read this post titled “13 Foods That Can Help Heal Your Thyroid” Now, back to hidden reasons you’re gaining weight. 


There is no doubt that a major aspect of losing weight and staying in shape is exercising properly. But, it is the balance between exercise and calorie intake that is the healthiest way to prevent weight gain. However, to create the caloric deficit required to see consistent weight loss, you have to address the input side of the equation. For example, If your goal is to create a caloric deficit of 3500 calories through exercise alone during the course of a week, you would have to walk or jog 5 miles every day of the week. You could create the same deficit by reducing your caloric intake from 2000 calories a day to 1500. Neither change is easy, but it is more efficient to create the deficit by reducing the caloric intake. 


Dehydration can seriously affect the mechanics of your body. It affects how your body burns fat and can encourage excessive calorie consumption. Also, dehydration can slow down your metabolism, cause fatigue, digestive disorders, and the energy needed for your body to maintain or lose weight. 


We often miss noting down the calories that we get from fruit juices, soft drinks, sodas, and smoothies since fruit juices do not have fiber content, they do not keep you full for long. Post-workout shakes, milkshakes, smoothies all have calories in them which can take up your calorie count as much as solid food. The trick with liquid calories is that you can not measure them, so you have to be mindful. 


The effects of environmental pollutants go far beyond wheezing and sneezing. According to a study, rats exposed to highly polluted air were much more likely to become obese, but also had a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. And it’s not just limited to rodents. People who live close to roadways with a high level of air pollution are also more likely to gain weight, says another study. 


Of all the little white lies, the expression “What you don’t know can’t hurt you" is one of the worst, regarding weight loss. However, when we’re talking about weight gain, ignorance could be the very reason behind your ever-tightening waistband. When you avoid the scale because you don't want to know the number, that’s when you get into trouble. This is especially true in the winter months when you’re more apt to indulge in comfort food and cover yourself with bulky sweaters. 


Like medication, some food allergies can cause weight gain. If you’re unaware of any food allergies but think you might have developed a non-threatening adult-onset allergy, an allergy test might help determine if it is contributing to weight gain. 

While focusing on these sneaky reasons can help you avoid gaining weight, other things like food and habits should also be considered to get a slimmer waistline. 

What’s your reason for gaining weight? Let us know in the comments section below! 

The information I provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. You should never use content in my writing as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or another qualified clinician. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if indicated for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. I am not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information in this blog. Thank you.

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