6 Hidden Sources Of Weight Gain

While healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes, there is no doubt that the sight or feeling of extra pounds makes just about everyone feel frustrated and stressed. This feeling is compounded if you don’t know the cause behind the weight gain.

For many of us, the usual culprits of too much food and too little exercise are to blame, but for some that may not be the case.

Surprisingly, there are a number of medical conditions, prescriptions and other sneaky causes that may lead to a higher number on the scale.

Keep in mind, though, that establishing and maintaining a 
healthy weight is complex and there could be a number of factors impacting your weight. Devin Vicknair, PhD, behavioral health coordinator at GMC’s Center for Weight Management, provides some possible sources behind those stubborn pounds that you just can’t seem to lose.

Your medication is a little heavy. Surprisingly, some of the most widely prescribed medications are some of the most likely to cause weight gain. Some of these medications may stimulate your appetite, while others may affect your metabolism and still others can cause you to retain water. These medications include:

  • Drugs for diabetes, such as insulin, thiazolidinediones, and sulfonylureas
  • Antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol, clozapine, and lithium
  • Antidepressant drugs like amitriptyline, paroxetine, and sertraline
  • Drugs for epilepsy like valproate and carbamazepine
  • Steroid hormone drugs like prednisone or birth control pills
  • Blood pressure-reducing drugs like beta-blockers

You’re not getting enough sleep. While it’s true that being sleepy doesn’t automatically cause weight gain, it can impact your waistline over time. When we struggle to get enough sleep, we search for other sources of energy. 

Oftentimes this means we reach for coffee or other sugary drinks and we couple that with sugary, fatty snacks throughout the day. Of course, if you’re feeling extra sleepy, skipping the gym seems like a no-brainer, too. Remember, though, all of these seemingly harmless habits begin to add up in pounds.

Your thyroid is running slow. If you’re one of the near 20 million Americans who have a thyroid condition, this could be impacting your health in a number of ways, including: fatigue, cold sensitivity, constipation, dry skin and yes, weight gain. However, nearly 60% of those with a thyroid condition are unaware of this condition. 

So, if any of these symptoms sound familiar, hypothyroidism could be contributing to your weight gain. Keep in mind, though, that weight gain from a thyroid disorder is relatively small, usually between 5 to 10 pounds.

You’re backed up. If you have digestive issues, such as irregular bowel movements, this could be contributing to a slightly higher number on the scale. While it’s hard to pinpoint the amount of weight a bowel movement may add, it is estimated that your body produces roughly 110 to 170 grams of stool per day. So, if you’re backed up, this could cause just a little extra poundage.

Your hormones are out of balance. As many as 10% of women of childbearing age have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). This condition is caused by an imbalance of hormones, as women with this condition make more of the male hormone, androgen. 

PCOS can contribute to a number of changes throughout the body, one of which is weight gain. While this condition doesn’t directly lead to excess weight, it does make weight gain far easier in women who have it.

Don’t overlook the impact that stress can have on your waistline, too. When we’re stressed, our bodies produce higher levels of the hormone, cortisol. High cortisol levels can influence our appetite as well as the storage of excess weight.

You’re just getting older. The truth is, as we age, our metabolism naturally slows down, which can contribute to weight gain. Typically this is the result of decreasing muscle mass, which lowers our resting metabolic rate. Remember, muscle burns more calories than fat. So, as you age, if you’re moving less and eating the same amount of calories, your weight may begin to rise.

You’re not alone. Unfortunately, unwanted pounds often do not come off as easily as they come on. However, to help you navigate the weight loss process, Gwinnett Medical Center’s Center for Weight Management offers a wide-range of weight loss services to support your journey to a healthy weight. With a clinically proven medical weight loss program and comprehensive bariatric program, the experts at the Center for Weight Management will help you find the most effective weight loss tools for you.


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