Uncover these 8 hidden causes of weight gain to nail lower numbers on your scale

  • 3 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Are you aware of the hidden causes of weight gain that might be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts? Read on to learn what can cause unexplained weight gain.

Hidden causes of weight gain

Hidden causes of weight gain

What can cause unexplained weight gain? Well, there are obvious reasons for weight gain, such as large portion sizes or little exercise. But are there other less obvious factors that could be causing unexplained weight gain over time? Let's explore some of the hidden causes of weight gain. Perhaps you can identify some that ring true for you.

1. Inadequate or poor-quality sleep

There are many reasons poor sleep can cause weight gain. Inadequate sleep interferes with hunger and appetite control centers which can result in overeating. Feeling tired also increases the odds of skipping exercise and may lead you to snack in an attempt to boost energy.

Tips for improving sleep

2. Eating too fast

If you finish meals in less than 20 minutes, you probably eat too fast and could overeat calories. This is because it takes about 20 minutes for your gut to release satiety hormones and signal the brain to slow down the drive to eat.

Tips for slowing down when eating

3. Chronic stress

Studies show that chronic stress is linked with larger waist sizes and higher BMIs. Stress releases cortisol, a hormone that may trigger sweet and fatty food cravings.

Tips for managing stress

4. Drinking alcohol

You probably know that alcohol has a lot of calories. In addition, researchers are also looking at other reasons alcohol may cause weight gain in some individuals, especially when it's consumed in large quantities. For example, alcohol may lower the body's ability to burn fat in certain individuals. Also, alcohol may dull the body's senses for feeling full so that you eat more than you intended.

Articles with tips on alcohol and weight loss

5. Eating out a lot

Restaurant meals often have larger portions, so we get our money's worth plus a bonus of extra calories. Restaurant or takeout meals also have loads of hidden fats and salt along with those calories, meaning more saturated fat and sodium than home-cooked meals.

Tips for trimming the calories whether dining in or out

6. Taking certain medications

Did you know that one of the hidden causes of weight gain can come from certain prescription medications? Examples include:

Discuss your weight gain with your doctor. There could be another medication available that has less influence on weight. Use a calorie tracker, like MyNetDiary, to follow your calorie intake if the known side effect of your drug is increased appetite. If you feel more tired on your meds, find a gentle and stress-reducing activity so that you feel refreshed after exercise (e.g., yoga, water exercise, dancing).

7. Quitting smoking

Quitting cigarettes can strongly influence long-term weight gain, making it difficult to lose or maintain weight. Because smoking is so detrimental to heart and lung health, doctors advise all smokers to quit. As some people quit smoking, they consume caloric foods or drinks to replace the habit, increasing calorie intake.

Calorie tracking is an ideal way to curb weight gain during smoking cessation.

8. Too much sitting

Although not exactly one of the hidden causes of weight gain, inactivity while working, watching TV, gaming, or scrolling through social media channels are all sedentary activities that can cause weight gain over time. Not only are you less active, but you may also be snacking more and getting less sleep.

Tips for getting more activity in your day

Contributions by Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES

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Weight Loss->Behavior Weight Loss->Plateau (Weight Stall) Weight Gain->Unwanted Weight Gain
Oct 30, 2023
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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