When most people experience rapid weight gain, they tend to look at external factors. Maybe someone is injured and unable to exercise as much as they used to, resulting in sudden weight gain. Perhaps they’re going through a rough time and turn to food for comfort, gaining weight fast. Sometimes the causes of weight gain are outside of your control.
In fact, certain medical issues and prescription medications can cause rapid weight gain. Regardless of the cause, the most important thing is to recognize what is happening, identify the cause, and take control of the situation.
Even if the excess weight gained is the result of a medical condition, it needs to be addressed before the weight causes more health problems (known as comorbidities). Approximately one-third of the entire US population is overweight (with the numbers increasing every year). Without considering pre-existing health problems, excess weight and obesity put you at risk – or at an increased risk – for all of the following:
- Heart disease
- Bone and joint problems
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep Apnea
- Cancer (certain types)
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Kidney Disease
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Hyper triglyceridemia
1. A Slow Thyroid
Known as hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid is one of the most common causes of unexpected and rapid weight gain. The hormones excreted by the thyroid gland play a huge role in your metabolism. Without sufficient levels of thyroid hormone in the blood, the metabolism slows down and can lead to weight gain. Talk to your naturopath to find out how to boost your thyroid function; yoga might even help.
Even among all of the inconsistencies in the science of nutrition, there is one rule that is indisputable: if you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. This means that even if you are eating a completely clean diet, you can still gain weight if you don’t watch your portions. Never assume that a food is low-calorie just because it’s healthy – always double check the nutritional values.
3. Being Dehydrated
It is extremely common for the body to mistake thirst for hunger. In fact, a recent study found that drinking two cups of water prior to meals resulted in a whopping 30 percent more weight loss than the control group. Additionally, when the body is dehydrated it will conserve water – resulting in water retention and bloating. If you have trouble staying hydrated, try these fruit infusions.
4. Being Too Stressed Out
You eat right. You get plenty of exercise and try to get enough sleep. And yet, you’re still gaining weight fast. Too much stress over a long period of time causes the body to release cortisol, a hormone that causes your body to release insulin and lowers blood sugar (5). Low blood sugar then triggers hunger. Now, because you are stressed and hungry, you’re more likely to reach for cookies or ice cream as a form of comfort. This unneeded food is high in unhealthy calories, leading to weight gain. Before reaching for a snack, do some breathing exercises and drink a cup of soothing tea to help you relax.
5. Eating Too Much Salty Food
The correlation between salt and weight gain is simple: salt causes water retention, which reflects as weight gain. The good news is that by increasing water intake while decreasing sodium intake, your body will let go of the excess water. Don’t go crazy and completely avoid salt – just avoid high sodium foods or anything with added salt.
6. Taking Birth Control
Birth control is perhaps one of the most well-known medications associated with weight gain. Most forms of birth control are hormonal, which can trigger an increase in appetite and water retention. Luckily, there are several forms of low-dose hormonal birth control and non-hormonal birth control that have no effect on weight. Talk to your doctor to find out which kind of birth control is best for you.
7. Skipping the Protein
While experts are still at odds with the optimal amount of dietary protein, there is one thing that they will agree on: most adults do not eat enough protein. Protein serves a number of purposes in the human body, chief among them is preserving lean muscle mass. When the body is lacking in nutrients, it will break down muscles for necessary amino acids. Lean muscle mass is also incredibly important to the metabolism: the more muscle a body has, the higher that person’s metabolism will be.