what causes weight gain

What Causes Weight Gain

What Causes Weight Gain – How To Finally Lose Fat And Keep It Off

Let’s take a look at what causes weight gain, as lifestyle choices, underlying medical conditions, medications, chemicals, and hormones all play a role. Eating too much unhealthy food along with a sedentary lifestyle are the most common causes of weight gain. However, there is more to weight gain than just excess calorie consumption, as you will soon see.

What Causes Weight Gain – Consuming Excess Calories

The most common reason for weight gain is consuming more calories than the body needs. Americans consume an average of 3,682 calories per day, far more than the recommended daily caloric consumption.1 Weight gain occurs when one takes in more calories than they burn through normal daily activities and exercise. For people who are overweight or obese, reducing calorie intake helps promote weight loss. 

Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meat, and healthy fats like olive oil is the best way to ensure that you are getting the nutrients your body needs while also managing weight. Avoiding processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars can also help reduce caloric intake and lead to a healthier lifestyle.

What Causes Weight Gain - Consuming Excess Calories

What Causes Weight Gain – Sugar

Sugar is a major contributor to weight gain. It’s no secret that sugary foods and drinks can lead to an increase in overall calorie intake, leading to weight gain.2 Sugar-sweetened beverages are one of the biggest sources of added sugar in the modern diet. Research links regular consumption of these drinks with obesity and a range of other health issues such as a stroke.3 Cutting out sugary drinks is a great way to reduce your calorie intake and start losing weight.

Replacing sugary drinks with water or unsweetened beverages can also help you meet your daily nutrition needs more easily. Furthermore, avoiding processed foods that contain added sugars is essential for successful weight management. Sugar can be found in everything from breads and cereals to canned soups and salad dressings. Even seemingly healthy products like granola bars and yogurt can contain surprisingly high levels of added sugars. Reading nutrition labels is a great way to identify items that are loaded with added sugar so you can make better choices when it comes to your food shopping.

Read more about how toxic sugar is.

What Causes Weight Gain – HFCS

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a sugar substitute made from corn that has been linked to weight gain. Studies have shown that regular consumption of HFCS can lead to increased body fat and an increase in visceral fat, which is the type of fat that accumulates around organs and increases the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease.4

HFCS is found in many processed foods, including soda and sweetened beverages, cereal bars, and even some breads. When you consume high quantities of these products that contain HFCS, you are taking in a large amount of calories without being aware of it. Reducing your consumption of HFCS can help you to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk for chronic diseases.5

Aside from weight gain, the consumption of large amounts of HFCS has also been linked to other health concerns such as an increased risk of high cholesterol, liver damage. It is important to be aware of the amount of HFCS you are consuming on a regular basis and to look for healthier alternatives whenever possible. When choosing processed foods, try to find those that do not contain HFCS or other types of added sugars. Eating a balanced diet and staying active will help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of diseases associated with high consumption of sugar.6

What Causes Weight Gain - HFCS

What Causes Weight Gain – Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are a popular calorie-free alternative to sugar, but research suggests that they may actually contribute to weight gain.7 Studies have shown that consuming artificial sweeteners can lead to an increase in appetite and cravings for sweet and high-calorie foods.8

This could be due to the fact that artificial sweeteners disrupt the body’s natural ability to detect sweetness and regulate caloric intake. Additionally, research has found that artificial sweeteners might also alter gut bacteria in a way that increases cravings for sugary food and promotes fat accumulation.9 Consumption of sucralose has recently been linked with being a primary cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome.10

Read more about Leaky Gut Syndrome.

What Causes Weight Gain – Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine disruptors play a role in weight gain. Endocrine disruptors are man-made chemicals found in everyday products such as plastic bottles, food packaging, cleaning supplies, and cosmetics. These chemicals can interfere with the body’s hormones, leading to health conditions such as obesity, and reproductive issues.

Research has suggested that endocrine disruptors may affect weight gain by interfering with the hormone leptin and insulin. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals include phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), and parabens.11

What Causes Weight Gain - Endocrine Disruptors

What Causes Weight Gain – BPA

BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical found in plastic products and has been linked to weight gain. The chemical leaches into food and beverages stored in many types of plastic containers and can disrupt hormones that regulate metabolism. Research shows that even low levels of BPA can have an adverse effect on metabolism, leading to weight gain.12

It is important to reduce or avoid exposure to BPA by minimizing plastic use and opting for glass or stainless steel containers when storing food or beverages. Additionally, look for products that are labeled “BPA-free” to ensure you are not exposing yourself to this potentially hazardous chemical. Making small changes in your daily habits can help you reduce your exposure to BPA and potentially prevent weight gain.

What Causes Weight Gain – Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the body does not produce enough thyroid hormone, which can lead to weight gain. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, depression, constipation, dry skin, brittle hair and nails, and sensitivity to cold temperatures. People with hypothyroidism may find it difficult to lose weight, even when following a strict diet and exercise regimen.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition that causes the body to attack its own thyroid gland. Other potential causes of hypothyroidism include thyroiditis, a condition in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own thyroid gland, radiotherapy or other treatments that involve radiation, iodine deficiency, and medications such as lithium or interferon-alpha.13

Read more about hypothyroidism.

What Causes Weight Gain – Low Testosterone Levels

Low testosterone levels can cause weight gain, especially in the abdomen, and can lead to obesity. Low testosterone affects metabolism, how well the body stores fat, and how much energy one has. Men with low levels of testosterone often report feeling sluggish and lacking in energy, which leads to decreased activity and a decrease in muscle mass. This lack of physical activity leads to an increase in fat storage, especially around the abdomen. 

Low levels of testosterone can also increase your appetite, which can lead to overeating and weight gain. In addition, hormones that regulate metabolism are affected by low testosterone levels, so people with lower testosterone levels may find it harder to lose weight or keep it off.14

Read more about low testosterone levels.

What Causes Weight Gain - Low Testosterone Levels

What Causes Weight Gain – High Estrogen Levels

High estrogen levels can also contribute to an increase in body weight. Estrogen is a hormone found naturally in both men and women, but women tend to have higher levels of estrogen than men. When estrogen levels are too high, the body becomes more efficient at storing fat, leading to an increased risk for weight gain. Excess estrogen is also known to lead to water retention, which can add weight to the body. High estrogen levels can be caused by a number of different things such as certain medications, diet, and lifestyle choices.15

Read more about high estrogen levels.

What Causes Weight Gain – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

(PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that can cause weight gain. PCOS affects the hormones that regulate ovulation and menstruation, resulting in a number of symptoms related to hormone imbalance, such as excessive hair growth and acne. Irregular menstrual cycles or lack thereof are also common with PCOS. In addition to those physical signs, women with PCOS often have difficulty losing weight due to a combination of metabolic and hormonal changes. 

Insulin resistance, which is common with PCOS, can lead to increased levels of circulating insulin in the body that contribute to weight gain. Low-grade inflammation caused by PCOS may also contribute to difficulty with weight loss.16

What Causes Weight Gain – Anti-inflammatory Steroids

Weight gain can be caused by a number of factors, but one of the more common causes is the use of anti-inflammatory steroids. These medications are often prescribed to reduce inflammation in conditions such as arthritis and asthma, and while they can help relieve symptoms of these conditions, they can also lead to weight gain. This is because anti-inflammatory steroids often increase appetite, which can lead to increased caloric intake. Additionally, these medications can also cause the body to retain fluid, resulting in an increase in water weight.17

What Causes Weight Gain – Depression

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that can have far-reaching consequences. Not only can it lead to significant emotional distress, but it can also cause physical ailments and even weight gain. In many cases, depression may be related to changes in appetite or eating habits. People with depression often find themselves turning to food as a coping mechanism or way to deal with their emotional distress. Over time, this can lead to weight gain as they consume more calories than their body needs.

In addition to overeating, people with depression may also make poorer food choices. Depression can also affect the body’s metabolism, making it harder for the body to burn calories efficiently. This can further contribute to weight gain as well as other health issues like heart disease.18 Additionally, typical antidepressant medications can also lead to weight gain.

What Causes Weight Gain - Depression

What Causes Weight Gain – Antidepressants

Weight gain is a common side effect of taking antidepressants. Most people will gain some weight when they start taking an antidepressant, especially if it’s a type of drug known as a tricyclic antidepressant. While the exact amount of weight gained varies from person to person, it’s not unusual to put on an extra 5 to 10 pounds over the course of a few months.

The weight gain is usually caused by an increase in appetite, which leads to more calorie consumption. Additionally, certain types of antidepressants can slow down your metabolism, meaning that the body doesn’t burn calories as quickly as it normally would. This combination of increased appetite and decreased metabolism can cause your weight to rise gradually over time.19

What Causes Weight Gain – Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s Syndrome, also known as Hypercortisolism, is a hormonal disorder caused by excessive levels of the hormone cortisol in the body. It can be caused by either an overactive adrenal gland or taking artificial forms of cortisol through medications such as prednisone and hydrocortisone. 

Symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome include rapid weight gain that is distributed evenly throughout the body, a round face with prominent cheeks and chin, thinning of the arms and legs, increased fat in the midsection and upper back, purple stretch marks on the skin, easy bruising, and fatigue. If left untreated, Cushing’s Syndrome can increase the risk of heart disease, and high blood pressure.20

What Causes Weight Gain – Leptin Resistance

Leptin resistance is a major factor in weight gain. Leptin is a hormone that helps regulate hunger and energy levels. When the body becomes resistant to leptin, it no longer responds properly to signals from this hormone which can lead to increased appetite, overeating, and weight gain. Research suggests that insulin resistance is linked with leptin resistance as well.21

Read more about leptin resistance.

What Causes Weight Gain – Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a major cause of weight gain. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, it can’t effectively use the glucose from carbohydrates in our diet for energy. As a result, the body stores more fat instead of using glucose as fuel, leading to weight gain. Besides affecting blood sugar levels, insulin resistance also increases appetite and slows down metabolism, making it harder for the body to burn calories. 

Therefore, individuals with insulin resistance are at a greater risk of gaining weight. To combat this, it is important to make dietary changes and get regular physical activity in order to improve insulin sensitivity and prevent unhealthy weight gain.22

Read more about insulin resistance.

What Causes Weight Gain - Insulin Resistance

What Causes Weight Gain – How To Finally Lose Fat And Keep It Off

When it comes to healthy weight loss, diet is one of the most important factors. Eating an ideal number of calories in whole, unprocessed foods is key to reaching most fat-loss goals. Foods such as grass-fed meat, nuts and seeds, organic fruits and vegetables, wild-caught fish, coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado are all excellent choices for those looking to lose fat.

Read more about my Cellular Healing Diet.

In addition to eating a nutritious diet, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) exercise can help you burn fat more quickly. HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest or active recovery. This type of workout is great for burning large amounts of calories in a short amount of time.23

Finally, it is essential to correct any underlying hormone imbalances. Hormone imbalances cause the body to store fat more easily and decrease metabolism.

Read more about optimizing the hormones involved in fat loss.

References

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2 Stanhope KL. Sugar consumption, metabolic disease and obesity: The state of the controversy. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2016;53(1):52-67. doi: 10.3109/10408363.2015.1084990. Epub 2015 Sep 17. PMID: 26376619; PMCID: PMC4822166.

3 StudyFinds.org. (2023, April 6). More than 6 teaspoons of sugar daily increases risk of 45 different health problems. Study Finds. https://studyfinds.org/6-teaspoons-of-sugar-health/

4 DiNicolantonio JJ, Mehta V, Onkaramurthy N, O’Keefe JH. Fructose-induced inflammation and increased cortisol: A new mechanism for how sugar induces visceral adiposity. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2018 May-Jun;61(1):3-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2017.12.001. Epub 2017 Dec 8. PMID: 29225114.

5 Stanhope KL, Bremer AA, Medici V, Nakajima K, Ito Y, Nakano T, Chen G, Fong TH, Lee V, Menorca RI, Keim NL, Havel PJ. Consumption of fructose and high fructose corn syrup increase postprandial triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, and apolipoprotein-B in young men and women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Oct;96(10):E1596-605. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-1251. Epub 2011 Aug 17. PMID: 21849529; PMCID: PMC3200248.

6 Ferder L, Ferder MD, Inserra F. The role of high-fructose corn syrup in metabolic syndrome and hypertension. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2010 Apr;12(2):105-12. doi: 10.1007/s11906-010-0097-3. PMID: 20424937.

7 Artificial Sweeteners and Leptin; Impaired Lipid Storage and Starvation | NIH Intramural Research Program. (2014). https://irp.nih.gov/catalyst/22/3/artificial-sweeteners-and-leptin-impaired-lipid-storage-and-starvation

8 Yang Q. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010 Jun;83(2):101-8. PMID: 20589192; PMCID: PMC2892765.

9 Ruiz-Ojeda FJ, Plaza-Díaz J, Sáez-Lara MJ, Gil A. Effects of Sweeteners on the Gut Microbiota: A Review of Experimental Studies and Clinical Trials. Adv Nutr. 2019 Jan 1;10(suppl_1):S31-S48. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmy037. Erratum in: Adv Nutr. 2020 Mar 1;11(2):468. PMID: 30721958; PMCID: PMC6363527.

10 Méndez-García LA, Bueno-Hernández N, Cid-Soto MA, De León KL, Mendoza-Martínez VM, Espinosa-Flores AJ, Carrero-Aguirre M, Esquivel-Velázquez M, León-Hernández M, Viurcos-Sanabria R, Ruíz-Barranco A, Cota-Arce JM, Álvarez-Lee A, De León-Nava MA, Meléndez G, Escobedo G. Ten-Week Sucralose Consumption Induces Gut Dysbiosis and Altered Glucose and Insulin Levels in Healthy Young Adults. Microorganisms. 2022 Feb 14;10(2):434. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms10020434. PMID: 35208888; PMCID: PMC8880058.

11 Endocrine Disruptors. (2022.). National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm

12 Neuroepic. (2022, June). BPA: Not A-gouti Thing for You –. https://neuroepic.mcdb.lsa.umich.edu/wp/14-bpa-not-a-gouti-thing-for-you/

13 Chaker L, Bianco AC, Jonklaas J, Peeters RP. Hypothyroidism. Lancet. 2017 Sep 23;390(10101):1550-1562. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30703-1. Epub 2017 Mar 20. PMID: 28336049; PMCID: PMC6619426.

14 Mogri, M., Dhindsa, S., Quattrin, T., Ghanim, H., & Dandona, P. (2013). Testosterone concentrations in young pubertal and post-pubertal obese males. Clinical endocrinology, 78(4), 593–599. https://doi.org/10.1111/cen.12018

15 Grantham, J. P., & Henneberg, M. (2014). The Estrogen Hypothesis of Obesity. PLOS ONE, 9(6), e99776. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0099776

16 Teede HJ, Joham AE, Paul E, Moran LJ, Loxton D, Jolley D, Lombard C. Longitudinal weight gain in women identified with polycystic ovary syndrome: results of an observational study in young women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Aug;21(8):1526-32. doi: 10.1002/oby.20213. Epub 2013 Jul 2. PMID: 23818329.

17 Tamez-Pérez HE, Quintanilla-Flores DL, Rodríguez-Gutiérrez R, González-González JG, Tamez-Peña AL. Steroid hyperglycemia: Prevalence, early detection and therapeutic recommendations: A narrative review. World J Diabetes. 2015 Jul 25;6(8):1073-81. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v6.i8.1073. PMID: 26240704; PMCID: PMC4515447.

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19 Alonso-Pedrero L, Bes-Rastrollo M, Marti A. Effects of antidepressant and antipsychotic use on weight gain: A systematic review. Obes Rev. 2019 Dec;20(12):1680-1690. doi: 10.1111/obr.12934. Epub 2019 Sep 16. PMID: 31524318.

20 Nieman LK. Recent Updates on the Diagnosis and Management of Cushing’s Syndrome. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018 Jun;33(2):139-146. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2018.33.2.139. PMID: 29947171; PMCID: PMC6021313.

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22 Verkouter I, Noordam R, le Cessie S, van Dam RM, Lamb HJ, Rosendaal FR, van Heemst D, de Mutsert R. The Association between Adult Weight Gain and Insulin Resistance at Middle Age: Mediation by Visceral Fat and Liver Fat. J Clin Med. 2019 Sep 28;8(10):1559. doi: 10.3390/jcm8101559. PMID: 31569345; PMCID: PMC6832997.

23 Boutcher S. H. (2011). High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. Journal of obesity, 2011, 868305. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/868305

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