Demystifying Weight Gain
Weight gain is commonly caused by overeating, eating the incorrect sorts of food, or consuming a lot of sugar without getting enough exercise. However, there could be some unanticipated reasons for the rising waistline that weren’t usually considered. Hormones, medicine, stress, and a lot of other variables can all contribute to weight gain. Dr. Swathi Reddy, Consultant Physiotherapist, and certified diet counselor and MIAP, Motherhood Hospitals, Bengaluru, explains some surprising reasons for the abrupt increase in weight, ranging from not getting enough sleep at night, stress, to medical concerns. Some of the major reasons include:
1. Improper rest
Sleep is essential for overall well-being and happiness. Proper sleep aids in good hormone release in our body, reducing stress and improving intestinal health. Sleep deprivation can cause biochemical changes in our body making us hungry and less full even after eating. For sleeping difficulties, screen time before bed could be limited, coffee intake could be lowered; a sleep schedule could be followed, and throughout the day we could stay active leaving us tired enough to sleep soundly.
2. Improper diet
A simple and effective way to lose weight and improve other health aspects is Switching to a diet rich in whole foods if our daily meals involved a lot of processed foods. Dr. Reddy advises slowly increasing the amount of nutrient-rich whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, eggs, nuts, and seeds, in our meals and snacks.
3. Chronic stress
Yet another common problem affecting our weight negatively is chronic stress. Weight gain is caused by cortisol, a stress hormone, increasing our appetite and desire for calorie-dense, extremely enjoyable meals. After a stressful day at work, relaxation practices like yoga, meditation, or pranayama can be inculcated as part of our lifestyle. When the stress levels are out of control, talking to a friend or seeking professional help can be considered.
4. Medical problems
Weight gain can be caused by health issues such as reduced thyroid levels, depression, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and eating disorders including stressful eating, and binge eating disorder (BED). BED is characterized by recurrent bouts of excessive overeating, leading to a range of health issues, in particular weight gain. PCOS is characterized by hormonal imbalances in women that can result in excessive body hair, acne, and insulin resistance, all of which can lead to weight gain. PCOS leads to an increase in the abdominal area weight, thus leading to increased risks of heart disease. Menopause also causes most women to gain weight for several reasons. It can alter the fat deposition in the body, making it more likely for fat to accumulate around the waist. Cushing's syndrome is a hormonal imbalance characterized by high cortisol levels. If too much cortisol is produced in our body, or if steroid drugs are used for asthma, lupus, or arthritis, it can happen. Excess cortisol can lead to weight gain and fat accumulation around the face, neck, waist, and upper back.
One of the after effects of antidepressants includes increase in body weight. If weight gain is a side effect of the medications, consider talking to the doctor about altering the treatment plan. Because one may feel better and have a greater appetite due to the effect of the antidepressants, some people may gain weight after the pharmacological treatment begins to work. Depression, on the other hand, can cause fluctuations in weight on its own.
Prednisone and other steroid drugs are well-known for fluid retention and changes in appetite leading to weight gain. The amount of increase in weight gain is determined by the dosage of the drug as well as the duration of time it is taken. Steroids can also produce a temporary shift in body fat distribution, with more fat in the face, neck, and abdomen.
Other prescription medications:
Weight gain can also be caused by other prescription medications, such as antipsychotic medicines, used to treat diseases including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and drugs used to treat seizures, migraines, diabetes, and hypertension. Birth control pills also sometimes cause temporary fluid retention in women leading to weight gain. The medical conditions need to be managed through expert consultation and medications mindful of the side effects.