What makes you gain weight fast? Well, most people associate weight gain with eating more food than they need and not moving around enough, but these are only two of the many factors that can cause weight gain.
If you’re someone who’s always worried about gaining weight and gaining it fast, you probably already have an idea of what you’re doing wrong in your diet and lifestyle.
But if you’re not careful, there are lots of things that can sneak into your day-to-day routine and pack on the pounds without you realizing it. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most surprising causes of fast weight gain in people and explain how you can avoid them to keep your weight under control.
Weight gain is not only frustrating, but it can put a toll on your health physically, mentally, and psychologically, especially when you don’t understand the cause.
What Makes You Gain Weight Fast?
1. Skipping meals
Logically, if you skip meals, your body will burn the stored energy to provide it with the fuel needed for bodily processes. As a result, weight loss will occur.
That’s why up to 20 percent of Americans are skipping meals to lose weight, only that it’s either not working or not sustainable enough. Research published by The American Journal of Epidemiology found that skipping breakfast was associated with increased incidences of obesity.
Besides, most people are so busy that they barely have time to eat, let alone cook. Skipping meals increases your appetite and causes unhealthy cravings later on. If you want to lose weight and maintain it over time, make sure you consume a healthy breakfast or lunch at least five days a week. I
f your schedule is too hectic for that, pack yourself a meal for work—and always keep healthy snacks on hand.
The key is not to completely eliminate calories but rather to try eating just enough food (calories) each day that will sustain your body in its current state. This way, you won’t feel famished and tired while getting fewer calories than your body needs. The amount of calories you need depends on your age, gender, height, weight, and level of activity.
A registered dietitian can help determine how many calories you should be consuming daily. It’s also important to remember that everyone burns calories differently; some people burn more, some less. For example, an athlete might require more calories per day than someone who works a desk job and exercises only once per week. So, understand where you are at.
2. Genetic susceptibility
Most weight gain and obesity cases in the family, especially where the parents are obese, are strongly connected to genetic composition. However, your genetic makeup is highly influenced by your lifestyle, including diet in a process known as epigenetics.
This simply means different foods and lifestyle habits can either express or suppress the genes associated with obesity and weight gain.
For instance, someone on a typical American diet, which is highly processed and high in unhealthy fats, will easily trigger their obesity genes to find expression. In contrast, a whole food healthy diet will suppress such genes and promote good health.
3. Refined carbohydrates
Highly processed carbohydrates are full of sugar with zero nutrients. They are also full of additives to improve taste and keep you hooked. This, in turn, causes you to overindulge, leading to high-calorie intake.
When digested, these foods increase glucose levels in the blood. This triggers insulin that carries glucose to the cells and stores the excess glucose as fat, causing weight gain.
At any given moment, the body requires only 4 mg of sugar circulating throughout the body. So any extra amount in the blood has to be put away and, in this case, by conversion into fat and stored around your midsection and internal organs. This increases the risk for chronic conditions, including childhood obesity, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and even cancer. See, How To Avoid Processed Foods?
4. Food addiction
Food addiction is often equated to the same way someone will behave when addicted to substance abuse.
Most junk and sugar-sweetened foods, often referred to as palatable foods, trigger the brain’s pleasure centers, producing the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin. See Effects Of High Blood Sugar On The Body.
This associates food with pleasure causing you to crave more. To some extent, one may lose control and the inability to cut back on these foods. This, in turn, leads to high consumption causing an increase in glucose and insulin levels, resulting in fat storage and weight gain.
Foods that can easily cause addiction include:
- Ice cream
- French fries
- Soda (not diet)
- Fried chicken
- Popcorn (buttered)
- Breakfast cereal
- Gummy candy
Table sugar is a soluble carbohydrate that offers a quick energy boost since it’s quickly digested. However, it doesn’t offset hunger for long, causing you to keep eating throughout the day. This leads to excessive calorie intake, causing weight gain.
Also, prolonged use of added sugar increases blood glucose, elevates insulin levels, and contributes to insulin resistance, all of which are linked to excess body fat and weight gain. See How To Beat Sugar Cravings Once And For All?
6. Leptin resistance
Leptin is a satiety hormone that tells your body to stop eating. When the body has had enough, leptin is released from the fat cells. This signals the brain that you are full, thus inducing satiety.
However, with leptin resistance, the brain cannot pick up the leptin signal causing one to overeat. It also leads to uncontrolled cravings for high carbohydrates and fatty foods to replenish the fat stores. See, How To Boost Metabolism Naturally?
Common causes of leptin resistance
- Insulin resistance
- Inadequate sleep
- High-stress levels
- High triglyceride level
- Yo-yo dieting
- Too little or too much exercise
- Overly processed foods
- Excessive snacking
Tips to reduce leptin resistance
- No snacking between meals
- Limit processed foods, including table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, refined or highly processed foods
- Managing stress
- Exercising regularly
- Getting adequate sleep – How To Sleep Better
7. Certain medications
Other medications—including heartburn meds, high blood pressure drugs, and others—can contribute to weight gain. If you’re gaining weight and don’t know why to speak with your doctor about whether a different medication might be right for you.
And if it turns out that you need one of these medications to stay healthy, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether there are any ways to reduce its potential side effects. For example, there are other types of blood pressure medicine that may not have as many side effects as some other types. Or, if certain depression symptoms require an antidepressant but can also cause weight gain, there may be another type that can help relieve those symptoms without adding pounds.
So, don’t give up on a good treatment because you think it causes weight gain; work with your doctor to find a solution that works for you.
When stressed, the stress hormone cortisol goes up to provide the body with glucose by stimulating fat and carbohydrate metabolism. It also increases appetite and cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods, increases insulin, and stimulates overeating, causing weight gain. Why Is Stress Management Important?
Stress may also lead to unhealthy habits associated with weight gain, such as
- Emotional eating
- Sleeping less
- Eating fast food
- Skipping meals
- Exercising less
Strategies to help you deal with stress and reduce cortisol
- Drink adequate water – Benefits Of Drinking Water
- Keep a food journal
- Incorporate stress relief strategies such as listening to music, deep breathing exercises, or taking a walk
- Eat healthier foods
- Make exercise a priority – 8 Life-Changing Benefits Of Exercise.
- Practice mindful eating
9. Inadequate sleep
While we may focus on diet and exercise to achieve a slim, toned figure, getting enough rest is just as important—especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Getting too little sleep can actually increase your cravings for unhealthy foods, making it even harder to drop pounds and keep them off.
A review study published in Obesity Reviews found that inadequate sleep raises levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and lowers levels of leptin (the satiety hormone), which together make you more likely to overeat.
In fact, research has shown that getting less than six hours per night leads to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes. The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least seven hours of sleep each night for adults; try to get even more if you’re feeling tired.
If you struggle with insomnia, talk to your doctor about strategies for improving your sleep quality. For example, some people find relief through relaxation techniques like meditation. You might also consider keeping a journal before bed to help you wind down from your day. Another option is to turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime, so they don’t distract you from falling asleep.
Finally, here are a few quick tips:
- Eat dinner early or none at all. Eating late at night can disrupt your circadian rhythm and cause you to wake up hungry later in the morning. Get outside during daylight hours. Exposure to sunlight helps regulate your body clock and contributes to better sleep patterns overall. See 18:6 Intermittent Fasting.
- Exercise regularly but not right before bedtime. Exercising close to bedtime can boost energy levels, making it difficult to fall asleep once you hit the sheets.
A lot of people think that overeating is simply a matter of gluttony. This couldn’t be further from the truth. However, overeating can be caused by several things—such as being bored, upset, or tired. If you notice you have an increased appetite when stressed or sad, try finding healthy ways to deal with these emotions rather than turning to food.
Also, it’s easy to consume excess calories without even realizing it if you’re eating out of boredom! Instead, find other activities to occupy your time and distract you from hunger. The next time you feel like snacking on junk food, choose something healthy instead. You might be surprised at how much less hungry you are afterward. See Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting.
11. Lack of exercise
A desk job can really take a toll on your waistline. Instead of sitting for hours at a time, choose standing desks or other options that get you up and moving during your workday.
Also, be sure to schedule periods throughout your day to move around, even if you’re just taking quick breaks to walk down a hallway or stretch on your chair. You should also make an effort to stay active outside of work—park farther away from stores when you go shopping, use stairs instead of elevators whenever possible, and take regular walks with coworkers. Benefits Of Cardiovascular Exercise.
12. Excessive alcohol consumption
If you are trying to lose weight, avoid alcohol consumption in order to avoid excess calories and fat storage. Although It is recommended that women consume no more than one drink per day, men should have no more than two drinks daily, it is better to quit drinking alcohol.
Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, compared to four calories per gram for both carbohydrates and protein. The body also stores alcohol as glycogen—and since any extra carbs get stored as fat—the next time you eat, your body will likely store whatever food energy is not used as fat.
A study published in Obesity Research found that when subjects consumed alcohol with a meal, they experienced lower levels of fullness even if they overeat at dinner. Researchers believe alcohol changes our brain chemistry by increasing ghrelin levels (the hunger hormone) while decreasing leptin production—leading us to seek out additional sources of fuel or calories. In other words, when we drink alcohol, we become hungrier!
Drinking on an empty stomach may make matters worse because blood flow is diverted away from your digestive tract and directed towards your muscles. As a result, you might be tempted to reach for high-calorie snacks such as chips or crackers. Fill up on nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats.
13. Hormonal imbalance
Our hormones are so tightly interconnected that imbalances in one, like a thyroid problem, can lead to all sorts of issues—including being overweight. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is one such condition—and it’s actually one that’s easily managed if caught early. As many as 10 million Americans have an underactive thyroid and don’t even know it; most people with hypothyroidism experience no symptoms at all.
If you suspect your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, see your doctor for a blood test; he or she will be able to tell you whether your levels are within normal range. If they aren’t, ask about getting on medication or taking other steps to bring things back into balance. And remember: Getting enough sleep and keeping stress levels low go a long way toward keeping your hormones happy!
14. Unhealthy relationships.
This can easily fall under stress, but it deserves its own spot on the list. People who don’t take care of themselves in relationships tend to make their partners responsible for their well-being.
If your partner says something hurtful or does something that makes you upset, even if it has nothing to do with your relationship or is just a random act, that negative feeling tends to fester. And before you know it, you’re binging on ice cream and cookies—which will only add pounds to your frame.
It’s important to set boundaries so that no matter what happens in life, you are taking care of yourself first and foremost. You might be surprised at how much better you feel when you focus on yourself rather than other people. You’ll also be more likely to get your needs met, which will make both you and your partner happier.
Weight gain is a significant risk factor for different chronic conditions. However, mastering it is not so apparent for most individuals. While some causes are too obvious, such as high intake of sugar and processed foods like carbohydrates, some may be completely unintentional. These include inadequate sleep, stress, medication, leptin resistance, genetics, food addiction, and skipping meals.
So in case you’ve been gaining weight faster than you can imagine or trying to lose it to no avail, check through your lifestyle because addressing one or more of these issues may be all you need for the new you.
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