Why am I gaining weight so fast? Why can’t I lose weight as quickly as most people? Why is losing weight so difficult for me? When did I get these terrible stretch marks? What is causing this sudden weight gain? What do I do?
Many of us have asked ourselves these very questions and have come up empty. It seems like year after year as we get older, weight loss becomes harder, and weight gain quickly takes over. Many other variables may be at play more than just poor diet and exercise.
In some cases, weight gain may be due to an underlying health condition. Here are a few common health conditions that can cause weight gain.
An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) occurs when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones play an essential role in regulating your metabolism and can occur at any age for both men or women.
Low thyroid hormones mean a slower metabolism and thus, can lead to weight gain. Daily thyroid hormone replacement medication is often prescribed to help treat hypothyroidism.
Type 2 Diabetes
Weight gain is a common side effect for people who take insulin for managing their type 2 diabetes. Insulin helps to control your blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, people with long term diabetes tend to eat more than they need to prevent from experiencing low blood sugar, which ultimately results in the extra pounds.
This excessive snacking to prevent low blood sugar contributes to excessive caloric intake. Luckily for those dealing with diabetes, there are other ways to control your blood sugar without exceeding your calorie limit. There are other medications and alternative measures to keep the extra pounds off and your blood sugar in check. Seek medical advice from your doctor to learn more about different ways to control your blood sugar without resorting to certain foods.
Cushing Syndrome is very rare. It affects about 1 in 50,000 people, and high levels of the hormone cortisol cause it. Weight gain in people with Cushing Syndrome is a common side effect, particularly in the face, stomach, and chest. When you use the hormone cortisol as steroid treatment, it can cause fat to build up along these areas. It could also cause tumors.
Depending on the severity of the Cushing Syndrome, treatment typically involves withdrawing or reducing the use of steroids, or for the tumor to be surgically removed.
With fluid retention, parts of the body can become swollen caused by fluid accumulating in the body. Many women experience fluid retention during their menstrual periods. The swelling can occur near the pelvic region of the body, as well as the ankles, feet, breasts, and hands.
On a more serious note, fluid retention can also cause breathlessness, which can indicate heart or kidney problems. When this happens, you must see a doctor and get medical attention immediately.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a common condition that affects the productivity of a woman’s ovaries. Symptoms may include trouble getting pregnant, irregular periods, excess hair, and weight gain. The cause of PCOS is unknown, but not uncommon. It’s thought to be hormone-related, including too much testosterone and insulin in the blood.
Women with PCOS tend to experience extra pounds around their waist. The more weight they put on, the more insulin is produced, which can cause further weight gain. It’s a no-win situation, though diet and exercise can help combat the weight gaining effects of PCOS.
Those that are sleep deprived are susceptible to weight gain. Those that get less than seven hours of sleep per night have reduced levels of leptin, a chemical that helps you feel full. They also have higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger. So basically, instead of sleeping, you’re eating. So, you’re eating more and burning fewer calories because you’re tired.
Depriving yourself of the sleep you need is the worst thing you can do if you want to control your weight. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep and that you’re balancing out your physical activity and energy levels throughout the day.
Stress is the all-time killer. People respond differently to stress, anxiety, and depression, though weight gain is a common symptom of these ailments. People that experience depression, high stress, or crippling anxiety tend to resort to food as a coping mechanism, which ultimately results in weight gain.
When you gain weight as a result of these, you can become even more depressed, stressed, or anxious, which can result in even more weight gain. It’s a vicious cycle that affects millions of Americans. If you use food to cope with your feelings, then it’s best to reach out to a friend, find a hobby, or call your doctor. Your doctor can put you on certain medications to help with your depressive mood disorders, which can improve your weight loss results.
High Blood Pressure
As your body weight increases, your blood pressure can rise. Those that are overweight can become more likely to develop high blood pressure. Uncovering new strategies to fight obesity, researchers have discovered that the hormone system that regulates blood pressure could be a direct catalyst for the promotion of weight gain.
The hormone system in blood pressure is called the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) and is involved in energy balance and metabolism. Because of this connection, RAS may influence weight loss or weight gain depending on where it’s active inside the body.
Those with high blood pressure, or hypertension, are at significant risk of developing kidney diseases, stroke, heart disease, or heart failure. Anything above 130/80 is considered high, and to prevent high blood pressure from occurring, make sure that you take the following precautions:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise daily
- Eat low sodium (salt) foods
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Drink alcohol in moderation (or don’t drink at all)