Weight gain is frustrating, particularly when your clothes feel tighter without any major changes in your lifestyle. However, did you know that there are several factors that can make you gain weight or prevent you from losing it? It’s true. The addition of those extra pounds may be directly related to how your body reacts to the physical processes within it.
Sleep Deprivation. We need sleep to keep our bodily systems in check. The fewer hours of sleep we get at night, the more sleep debt we accumulate during the day. Getting enough sleep – 7.5 hours is considered the average need – is important because it keeps two important hormones in check: leptin and ghrelin. When you are sleep deprived, these two hormones will not do their jobs effectively.
Leptin tells your body when it is satiated (that feeling of fullness) and lets you know when it is time to stop eating. However, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body will produce less leptin. The result? You’ll eat more often during the day and may grab “quick fix” snack foods to appease your hunger, especially in the work place or late at night.
Ghrelin is the hormone that tells us when we’re hungry. If you don’t get enough sleep at night, your body will produce more ghrelin, and you’ll feel hungrier more often. More ghrelin production coupled with less leptin production most often results in overeating. That’s why it’s common to compensate for these hormonal imbalances by eating more frequently throughout the day.
Nutrient Deficiency. If your body is deficient in certain nutrients, such as vitamin D, iron, and magnesium, you may gain weight and not realize the reasons for it. For instance, studies show that when women take vitamin D/calcium supplements, postmenopausal weight gain slows considerably. Furthermore, a magnesium deficiency will cause insulin and glucose levels to elevate, and excess glucose is stored in the body as fat. Finally, as you may already know, iron deficiency will make you feel run down, and it’s difficult to summon the energy to work out when your body tells you to rest.
Digestive Issues. Our digestion is integral to our health and includes the processes of absorbing nutrients as well as eliminating waste products and toxins from our bodies. Below are some common digestive complaints that are known to cause weight gain.
• Leaky gut
• Stomach ulcers
• B12 deficiencies
• Gas and bloating
There’s more. Many other common digestive issues can contribute to weight gain as well. Because the calories we consume are meant to build bone and muscle or to burn energy, a breakdown in this process occurs when we have a condition that interferes with proper digestion. When the digestive process does not work properly, we gain body fat and experience fatigue. Of course, we need to keep moving to keep our metabolism furnace burning, so any issue that interferes with exercise – such as feeling tired – will create a cycle that results in excess body fat.
Stress. In our busy lives, it’s easy to reach for nutrient-deficient comfort foods to make us feel more awake or more energized in the moment. That’s why stress eating is a major factor when it comes to gaining weight. When we’re feeling stressed, our bodies release hormones, one of which is cortisol. Cortisol is a contributing factor in stress-related weight gain because it increases our appetite, which leads to excessive calorie consumption during the day.
Medications. Many of the medications we take for depression, birth control, or blood pressure can lead to weight gain. Antidepressants, steroids, antipsychotic medication, beta blockers, and anti-seizure medication, as well as migraine medication, may also add extra pounds. If this is an issue for you, you’ll want to talk to your physician about changing your prescription or find natural remedies to control chronic issues.