By Trisha Malhotra
Gaining weight can be a great thing… when planned. But we’re not talking about that. We’re referring to the unexpected, unnecessary, and in some cases, rapid weight gain. In other words, the kind that sucks. If you asked a gym trainer, weight fluctuation would boil down to the number of calories in versus calories out. But the truth is more complicated than simply adjusting this equation to gain, lose or maintain your weight. Here are a few surprising reasons you might be putting on weight.
1. You’re chronically undereating
Fall into the camp of “I keep gaining weight even though I don't eat much?” Weight gain can occur (ironically) from chronic undereating. According to eating disorder specialists, undereating will result in weight loss in the short term but leads to weight gain over time. Those with a low-calorie diet and a tendency to over-exercise, watch out.
Eating too little for long periods signals the body to enter a starvation mode where it preserves whatever amount of calories it gets. The little food your body is receiving is stored as fat immediately. To add to this, your metabolism will likely slow down to ensure your body is not constantly starving. The number of calories burned can slow by as much as 40%, making gaining weight a cakewalk, without actual cake included.
2. You’ve got an undiagnosed medical complication
Rapid weight gain can be explained by an underlying medical condition as well. These include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Weight gain in PCOS individuals can occur due to hormonal imbalances.
- Hypothyroidism. Due to the under-secretion of hormones from your thyroid gland, people with hypothyroidism are likely to put on weight easily.
- Depression. Some depressive individuals are likely to gain weight and overeat. However, chronic depression could also cause one to undereat and impact one’s metabolism over time.
- Binge eating disorder (BED). This condition involves recurrent episodes of uncontrollable overeating. The underlying cause is usually psychological but can also be hormonal.
- Cushing's syndrome. Although this condition is quite rare, it is caused by high levels of the hormone cortisol and weight gain is a common symptom.
3. It’s actually water retention
The principal chemical component of your body, the thing your cells need to function, and the substance that can single handedly keep you alive while you starve for an entire month: water is the true elixir of life. But it's boring so most people don’t consume enough. If you have an irregular water consumption pattern, eat too much salt, consume almost no protein, or do not have enough potassium or magnesium in your diet, you might notice rapid weight gain due to your body retaining water.
Fluid retention is no joke. In serious cases, it can cause difficulty with balance, headaches, vomiting, and blurred vision. Water retention can also be a signal for a deeper problem like kidney disease, congestive heart failure, or cirrhosis among others. But consuming water in a very disorganized manner can also be a culprit. Consider this: If you chug two liters of water in the morning and then don’t have any water throughout the day, your body will likely want to hold onto this water to prevent dehydration. You might also experience nausea from overdrinking. The solution? Just drink water normally.
4. It's from steroids
Corticosteroids are used in the treatment of most things: from bronchitis in your lungs to a boil on the skin. It has been shown that using corticosteroids over the long term, for conditions like arthritis, or asthma can result in an increased appetite. Over time, weight gain will follow. The key is to address this issue with your doctor and be mindful about what you are consuming. Do not stop your medication without consulting with your doctor first.
In a nutshell
Weight gain isn’t the greatest, but it is your body signaling an underlying condition, so maybe look at it as a messenger. There are some boring reasons for weight gain like diabetes medication, prolonged cortisol secretion from chronic stress, and, surprise-surprise, aging. But we tried to make this list interesting for you. Discover more such not-so-boring content by clicking here.