5 Hidden Culprits That Contribute to Weight Gain
Sep 29, 2016 · by · no comments
If you’ve been noticing that your jeans are fitting more snugly and the outfits that used to be your favorites suddenly don’t look good on you anymore, there’s a good chance your weight might be creeping up on you. There are a few hidden culprits that can cause weight gain and widen your waistline, even if you’re eating right and exercising regularly. If the numbers on the scale keep escalating, these subtle factors might be the cause.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a relatively common disorder among women that involves excess production of the male hormone, testosterone, by the adrenal glands and ovaries. PCOS also causes thinning hair, severe acne, excess facial hair, fertility problems, and irregular menstrual cycles. If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms coupled with weight gain, it might be time to discuss the possibility of PCOS with your doctor.
Lack of Quality Sleep
If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, or even if you regularly burn the midnight oil in order to keep up with work deadlines or demands at home, you could be depriving your body of essential sleep. Your body uses the time you spend sleeping for repair and restoration, and when you don’t get enough sleep, your immunity is lowered and your physiological systems can be disrupted.
Among other consequences, a lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain. A study by Harvard University researchers found that women who sleep just five hours each night are 30% more likely to gain weight compared to women who sleep at least seven hours per night and 15% more likely to become obese.
The body’s stress response includes the release of a set of chemicals including adrenaline, CRH, and cortisol. Adrenaline suppresses hunger, but it fades as soon as the perceived threat is no longer present (or as soon as you calm down), while cortisol sticks around for a while.
Cortisol, then, signals the body to replenish its source of fuel, which can cause you to overeat. What’s more, cortisol also slows your metabolism and contributes to the accumulation of fat around your midsection, also known as visceral fat – but you might refer to it simply as “belly fat.”
If you’re taking any prescription medication regularly, it could be causing your weight to slowly creep up. Steroids, oral contraceptives, and anti-depressants are a few medication classes that have a reputation for contributing to weight gain, but other medications can cause weight gain as well.
Sometimes, it’s not the pharmacology of the drug itself but the side effects from the drug’s action that contributes to weight gain. For instance, drugs such as steroids can stimulate the appetite, which in turn leads to weight gain. Every person’s physiology is different, so even a medication not particularly known for causing weight gain could be to blame.
Nutrient or Neurotransmitter Imbalance
Some health conditions result in an imbalance of neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and dopamine) in the brain. These neurotransmitters help to send signals between cells in the brain, and they also play a role in managing your mood, appetite, and addictions. When these neurotransmitters are out of balance, the proper signals get mixed up and you could feel hungry or crave certain foods.
Likewise, when vital nutrients are out of balance or deficient – usually the result of a poor diet – it can lead to cravings, fatigue, and a slowed metabolism, all of which contribute to the number on the scale creeping higher and higher.
If your jeans are getting tighter or clothes not fitting as well, or if you’ve noticed the pounds creeping on over the past few months but can’t determine a legitimate cause, one of these hidden culprits could be to blame. Taking steps to correct deficiencies or talking with your doctor about your medications can help you maintain a healthy weight while effectively managing your health and well-being.