20 October 11 What behaviors are making you gain weight?

Most of us know that weight control boils down to calories intake vs. calories expended. If you consume more calories than you burn, then you will gain weight. But it is also helpful to know what lifestyle factors or specific behaviors are associated with weight gain over time. Some behaviors can be changed to reduce risk of weight gain whereas others (like quitting smoking) should not be changed.

In last week's blog post I reviewed dietary factors related to long term weight gain. This week, I continue with lifestyle factors that are associated with long term weight gain. The information in this post comes from the same study I reported on last week – a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (6/23/11) by Mozaffarian et al.

Behaviors That Appear to Promote Weight Gain

Quitting smoking. Quitting cigarettes (within a given 4-year period) has the strongest relationship to long term weight gain. For those of you who have recently quit smoking, this is a big challenge to weight loss or weight maintenance.

Alcohol intake. Increasing number of drinks consumed per day is associated with greater weight gain over time. This is not surprising – alcoholic drinks have calories.

Sleep hours. People who sleep less than 6 hours a night or those who sleep more than 8 hours a night have an increased risk for long term weight gain. That is, if you sleep too much or too little, you are more likely to gain weight over time.

TV hours. It comes as no surprise that increasing hours of TV viewing come with more weight gain over time. The authors speculate that TV viewing probably increases weight gain by decreasing physical activity, increasing calories intake (especially snacking while watching TV), and decreasing duration of sleep.

Physical Activity Helps Fend Off Weight Gain
The more physical activity people engage in, the less weight they gain over time. Of course, this should come as no surprise since exercise burns calories and has important metabolic effects. The key, of course, is to engage in regular physical activity over time, not just for a short period of time to lose weight.

Smoking is not worth the lower weight!

Because smoking is so detrimental to one's respiratory and cardiovascular health, all smokers are advised to quit even if the result is weight gain. Calories tracking is ideal to curb weight gain during this difficult period. Caloric foods or drinks are often consumed to replace smoking and this increases calories intake. For instance, 7 sugar-free Lifesavers® candies (any flavor) contains 35 calories. That doesn't seem like much, but an extra 35 calories on top of your maintenance calories will cause you to gain about 3.65 lb over the course of a year (3500 calories surplus = 1 lb weight gain).
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Weight Loss/Behavior Weight Loss/Plateau (Weight Stall) Weight Gain/Unwanted Weight Gain

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