5 Factors You Didn’t Know Contribute to Weight Gain
In theory, a well-rounded diet and regular exercise should be all you need to lose weight. However, there are a variety of behaviors and physiological factors and that can inadvertently hinder your progress, causing you to pack on unwanted pounds. Here are just five examples our health coaches think you should be aware of.
Surprising Causes of Weight Gain
1. Prolonged Stress
Stress affects your health in many ways. It can cause headaches, muscle pain, and even stomach upset. Over time, it can also lead to weight gain. That’s because stress triggers the production of cortisol, a hormone shown to increase appetite and trigger cravings for fatty foods. Similarly, stress makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. When you’re tired, you’re less likely to exercise and more likely to reach for sugary beverages or high-calorie comfort foods. Thus, stress management and ample rest are both cornerstones of healthy weight loss.
2. “Diet” Foods
Just because a food has “diet” in the name doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Diet sodas, for example, contain artificial sweeteners that—while they contain few calories—have been shown to increase cravings, leading to long-term weight gain. Likewise, many “low-fat” foods like yogurt and salad dressing are overly processed and high in sugar. We recommend incorporating more healthy fats into your meals instead.
3. Thoughtless Eating
Sometimes it’s not about what you’re eating but how you’re eating it. Eating from large plates and bowls and having meals in front of the TV, for example, both increase how much a person eats in one sitting. To combat weight gain, we recommend mindful eating, meaning eating slowly and without distraction.
4. Prescription Medications
An estimated 10% to 15% of weight issues are related to prescription medications. Some drugs increase your appetite while others slow your metabolism, making it harder to trim your waistline. You should never stop taking a medication because it causes you to gain weight, though. Talk to your primary care provider about switching to a new treatment plan. Also, work with our health coaches to develop a customized diet and exercise plan that promotes weight loss.
5. Environmental Contaminants
Many plastic food and beverage containers include artificial chemicals called obesogens. These compounds are endocrine disrupters, meaning they interrupt the absorption of hormones—especially estrogen. In turn, this hormonal imbalance can slow your metabolism. Avoid food items that have been stored in plastic containers and use alternatives like steel and aluminum whenever possible. Also, be mindful of other factors that cause hormonal imbalances including menopause, anorexia, and lactation.
Understanding how these factors affect your waistline will help you make the most of your weight loss journey. For more nutrition tips, visit our health library. You can also call our health coaches at (844) 789-8446 to receive your 60-day customized diet and exercise plan.
Dr. Jason Olafsson