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Often people say that well “I didn’t change anything, why am I gaining weight?”
Today we’re going to talk about all the mechanisms and all the reasons behind these seemingly unexplained weight gains.
Misconception about Weight Loss
We’ll be in real trouble if we are gaining some weight, and there is a misconception that it’s all about calories.
People tell you that you’re just gaining weight because you’re eating more and you’re not exercising enough,
You’re gaining weight because there are more calories in than calories out, you’re not burning enough calories.
And while there is some fundamental truth to that, we’ll be in real trouble if we just look at that.
If we don’t ask these question to ourselves
- Why might I be eating more?
- Why might my body slow down and burn less?
- What is changing?
- Why am I gaining weight?
To find out the answers to these questions, we will go over 20 different reasons here,
But in the end, they’re all going to be hormonal changes in one form or other,
Because hormones determine everything about your physiologies behavior,
I want to mention one thing before we get into the numbers and the reasons; it’s what we think of as aging.
A lot of people blame things on aging,
“Oh what I’m just getting older, oh this is just happening because I’m getting older, my doctor said it’s just because I’m getting older”
While aging is an inevitable process, most of what we call aging is a function of
Dis-use is “use it or lose it“.
Your body grows at a certain rate that is pre-programmed for growth as long as you’re growing as a teenager,
But once you’re fully grown, if you don’t use it, the body says-
“Oh well this muscle is not being used, that muscle is not being used, I’m not going to maintain body parts that are not being used”
So, most of the muscle loss due to aging is disuse.
Deficiency means your body has to have something to perform a function or to maintain tissues, if it’s not getting it, it is deficient.
It can’t maintain tissues it can’t maintain function if you don’t provide it,
We are highly deficient because of all the processed foods that we are eating.
Toxicity means that the body is trying to do something but there’s stuff in the way, there’s junk, there are toxins, there’s debris,
The signals and the metabolic pathways are interfered with because of toxicity.
So keep those in mind and understand that health and everything that we call function is sort of like a battery.
Battery at a hundred percent charge is going to make that Energizer Bunny go, but if the battery gradually drops over time we’re not going to notice that change right away.
It’s not like the Energizer Bunny slows down to 70% just because the battery’s at 70%,
It just means it has fewer reserves and that’s how the body works as well, that it has fewer reserves to cope and adapt,
Which means, we may not get any symptoms until we have a significant reduction in reserves
A lot of symptoms, a lot of changes that we’re going to talk about may not happen until your battery is down to 50%,
And again, some of that is inevitable more or less with aging, but a lot of it can be affected by exercise, proper nutrition, activation, detox, and just understanding these issues properly.
Why am I gaining weight?
There are many reasons for an unexplained weight gain and here I am dividing them into 3 major categories-
- Sudden weight gain
- Short term weight gain
- Long term weight gain
SUDDEN WEIGHT GAIN
Here we’re talking about something that’s happening really fast, it’s like really out of the blue,
It seems in a matter of weeks or a couple of months there was a dramatic change.
The number one reason for unexplained weight gain could be steroids.
If someone gets oral corticosteroids, which is a form of cortisol,
And as we know that cortisol drives insulin, insulin resistance, and weight gain.
So you could gain a dramatic amount of weight in just a few weeks with that.
2. Weight gain during pregnancy
Pregnancy might be something that if you don’t really pay attention or didn’t expect it, that could cause some quick weight gain.
And again it is due to some dramatic hormonal changes during pregnancy.
3. Inappropriate exercise Regime
If you start an exercise regime that’s not appropriate,
If you do what you think is cardio or aerobics, but it’s actually in the intensity level of anaerobic,
Now you’re forcing your body to make cortisol, which is going to increase hunger,
It’s going to drive the storage hormone insulin, and you could gain weight rather quickly even though you’re burning calories.
And it seems counterintuitive, it seems like you would exercise and lose weight,
You would compensate for it because you’re shifting your metabolism, you’re becoming more insulin resistant, and that type of training could make you ravenously hungry.
You can read this guide for a clear understanding: Exercises to lose belly fat
4. Cruise Trip
It is not really an unexplained reason but I just want to put it up here because,
If you go on a cruise and you get the unlimited soda drink package and the unlimited beer package and you take advantage of the 24-hour buffets just because it’s there,
You may gain around 20 pounds in a week,
I’ve even gone on some cruises, not with the soda package, but I just ate like a madman and gained 12-14 pounds in a week.
5. Holiday Season
Most people probably expect this, as it is not so unexplained,
Starting in November through December, we’re going to eat a lot more cookies and candy and treats as a culture,
So that could certainly be a reason.
For some people, it might be the first time they could get away with it on previous seasons but something else has changed, and now that holiday season just really kicks them over the edge.
We could have some sort of disease or tumor, like we could have a pituitary tumor or an adrenal tumor that is producing hormones at a very exaggerated and unbalanced level.
So again, it’s all about hormones and if we have a tumor that produces cortisol, that would create insulin resistance and weight gain very quickly.
That’d be sort of like taking steroids.
7. Gaining Weight on KETO
This is going to sound strange, but you could gain weight suddenly by starting keto,
This would be if you start it and don’t understand what it is,
If you hear that it’s all about meat and bacon and high fat, and you start eating those but you don’t reduce your carbohydrates enough,
So you’re still insulin resistant and you’re not reducing insulin by reducing carbs enough and you’re not getting fat adapted.
Now you’re going to still have that exaggerated appetite, that sugar addiction, now you’re just adding fat to it and you could gain weight very quickly.
So remember, you’re not supposed to eat more fat and maintain carbohydrates,
If you increase the fat, you have to drop the carbohydrates dramatically to let that insulin drop and to become fat adapted.
Keto is not going to work until that metabolic shift takes place.
So all of these things are things that could happen pretty quickly,
The underlying metabolic change could be very quick, in a matter of weeks and the weight gain could also happen very suddenly in a matter of weeks to maybe a couple of months.
SHORT TERM WEIGHT GAIN
Now we’re going to move on to some things that happen a little bit slower,
It won’t happen in weeks, but it is going to take a few to several months and the underlying mechanism would also be happening over a period of several months.
8. Life Change
Weight gain can also be due to dramatic change in life, some of the examples include
- You had to move somewhere,
- You had a divorce,
- A death in the family,
- You got a new job,
So all of these large dramatic life changes can start shifting hormones, can start changing the way the body works,
Maybe that life change was because of number nine.
You became more sedentary, maybe your previous life situation allowed you to move more,
Maybe your job involves more movement, and when you stopped moving then you become more insulin resistant,
You use less energy, burn fewer calories, but you don’t change your eating habits.
10. Gaining weight due to stress
The life change which I talked about could also be causing more stress,
The examples I mentioned are very stressful and for some people, if it’s like severe grief, that could cause the opposite effect where you just stop eating and you lose weight.
But for most people, stress typically means that their body is going to look for more fast fuel, it’s going to be looking for sugar, especially if you’re not fat adapted.
Now as you have that stress, you start eating more, you’re making more cortisol from the stress, and you’re gaining weight, becoming more insulin resistant, and the weight comes on.
11. Lack of Sleep
You could also gain weight from a lack of sleep,
If you don’t sleep enough, that’s a form of stress in itself,
You’re wearing; you’re burning your candles at both ends,
But certain hormones are secreted as a part of your circadian rhythm, as part of your sleep and wake cycle,
So if you don’t sleep enough you’re probably not getting enough growth hormone and growth hormone again is a metabolic and a fat-burning hormone.
If your growth hormone is dropping from a lack of sleep, then that could be causing some weight gain.
12. Night Shift
Maybe you’re working at different hours of the day, so you have to sleep at different hours of the day,
So even if you get enough hours, even if you get your 8 hours that your body typically depends on,
You’re going to shift your hormones; you’re going to disturb your hormones by sleeping during a different time of the day.
You’re supposed to sleep when it’s dark and be up when it’s light.
That’s what your brain has learned, that’s what your nervous system has learned to secrete the right hormones,
So growth hormone, for example, works best, if you get a couple of hours of sleep before midnight.
13. Low-fat diet
Another reason for an unexplained weight gain is maybe you just started a low-fat diet,
And for a lot of people that sounds very strange,
If you listen to the government guidelines, they tell you to eat low fat, low calories, and you’re thinking fat has the most calories; I eat less fat, so I should have fewer calories.
But what happens when people eat low fat is they typically eat more carbs and when you eat more carbs, you’re going to be stimulating insulin,
Insulin is a fat-storing hormone, as you become more insulin resistant your body lowers its metabolic rate and you get hungrier.
So there are many different ways that you could go wrong with a low-fat diet.
Sometimes people just start eating more junk food, they think as long as it is low-fat, they can eat the cookies, ice cream, or super sweetened yogurt.
In doing that maybe you’re eating fewer calories and just becoming more insulin resistant,
But it’s also possible that because you’re getting super hungry from all that sugar stimulation, you end up eating more calories and more food in addition to becoming insulin resistant.
LONG TERM WEIGHT GAIN
Now let’s talk about some of the things that sort of creep up on us over the years, and it might seem unexplained,
But if we understand the underlying reasons and especially if we start understanding how our reserves decline over time then these would make a lot of sense.
14. Getting Older
Getting older is not a reason in itself, but what happens as we have disuse, deficiency, and toxicity, the metabolic rate and growth hormone slows down.
15. Insulin Resistance catching up
One of the things that might be happening is that insulin resistance is catching up with us,
What does that mean?
Well, your blood sugar is regulated by insulin, so when you eat something, your blood sugar Rises, your insulin goes up to control blood sugar and all is well.
But as we eat more sugar and we eat more carbs, and we eat them more frequently,
It takes more and more insulin over time and this could be building up over 10-15 years and as we know that insulin is a fat-storing hormone,
In storing fat it delivers sugar into the cell that gets converted to fat, so in that sense, it’s a fat-storing hormone,
And because its tendency is to store things, it means we have less access to the fuel once it’s stored.
It’s sort of like the deep freezer that you put in the basement; you’re not going to go there for a snack, so you don’t have quick access to that food.
That’s how severe insulin resistance works.
So as that insulin resistance builds up over time, you could get to a breaking point where you start gaining weight,
You think you’re eating roughly the same thing, but you don’t have access to the food, you’re storing more and more fat and you’re gaining weight.
16. Fat muscle ratio
So maybe you’re maintaining your weight for 20 years but during that time you’ve done a bunch of yo-yo dieting, you’ve been mostly inactive, you haven’t used your body,
So the normal aging is happening at a faster rate because of disuse, deficiency, and toxicity, so your muscle mass decreases.
Muscles are like the machine, and fat tissue is the long-term storage,
So muscles are much more metabolically active, fat tissue isn’t very active at all, it’s like we said the deep freezer.
So over time, the ratio can change,
You start with this much muscle in this much fat and then over 20 years your muscle goes away, your fat increases but your weight stays the same,
So you think “hey I’m doing the same, I’m doing good”
But then you get to a breaking point and now all of a sudden the weight starts piling on because you’ve reached that threshold.
17. Growth Hormone
Growth hormone declines with age, that is inevitable but we have a lot of influence over how quickly we can make a decline.
If we are sedentary, if we’re toxic, if we’re deficient, it’s going to decline faster,
We can have a decline at a quick rate or we can have a decline at a much slower rate depending on our lifestyle.
But it is going to go down, and as we know growth hormone is a fat-burning hormone, it keeps up your basal metabolic rate; it increases the overall activity of the body.
So as it decreases then that can also cause weight gain.
18. Endocrine Disruptors
Endocrine is your hormone system and endocrine disrupters are toxins,
They’re things like plastics, foreign hormones, metals, chemicals and pesticides that mimic the look,
They look almost like your own hormones so they fit into the same receptors and when they fit, they block the receptor and they can either stimulate a function and exaggerate something the body is doing,
Or it can fit in and block it because the hormone can block something or stimulate something.
So the endocrine disruptor can increase or decrease something that the body normally does,
So the body has less ability, less influence to regulate these things all by itself.
Inflammation is a natural part of healing, but low-grade chronic inflammation is not a good thing,
That’s when inflammation has gone wrong, that’s when there’s stuff present in the body year after year creating a little bit of irritation.
So these are things like toxins, again they’re things like foods that we don’t break down completely,
We may not have a full-blown allergy, but we have an intolerance to those foods, we don’t do well with them.
The primary ones are going to be processed dairy pasteurized milk and refined grains.
Refined grains create a low-grade inflammation in the body,
And what that does is, it changes the sensitivity of a lot of your hormones,
Your hypothalamus is an organ that sits right under the brain, between the brain and the brain stem,
It’s like a relay of all the traffic and it senses your hunger, thirst, your Ph, and temperature, and all these different things that cause you to eat more or eat less or want to do things,
And if the inflammation changes the sensitivity, then you just don’t have the same function there anymore.
So the hypothalamus might lose its ability to regulate leptin or ghrelin, your hunger hormones, thyroid hormones, metabolic hormones, and your insulin.
It can affect the resistance and the sensitivity of every one of those hormones.
And on that note, a very important thing to keep in mind is the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in your diet.
Because they need to be ideally about a one-to-one ratio, meaning we have an equal amount of omega-3 to omega-6 in the diet.
Somewhere up to about four parts omega-6 to one part omega-3 is still okay but the average person in Western society is more like a 20 part omega-6 to a one-part omega-3.
What does that do?
It promotes inflammation; these substances are precursors to things that control inflammation in the body.
So all the things that raise omega-6 are in the sense pro-inflammatory when it gets out of control.
And what are those things?
Well, they’re primarily sugar, grains, seeds, seed oil, and nuts.
And that’s why a small amount of a quality seed or nut oil is not a problem but once we start eating large amounts of refined oils especially, then that creates huge problems.
And those are the only oil used in commercial cooking.
So anytime you eat fast food, anytime you eat out anything fried, you’re getting all omega-6.
The last but not the least reason for the question “why am I gaining weight” is HYPOTHYROID.
The thyroid is your thermostat and hypothyroid means that it is slowing down, it’s like you’re just not cranking out as much heat.
One thing that you can notice if your thyroid is slowing down is that you tend to feel cold even in a normal room temperature where other people are doing fine.
If you’re just always a little chilly, a little cold to the core, then chances are you have hypothyroid.
Why am I gaining weight - CONCLUSION
So if you’ve been having some unexplained weight gain then start exploring these reasons,
Because you must start understanding every one of these different nuances of metabolic function, and changes in the body.
If you just go chasing calories, and you try to work out, chances are it’s going to backfire.
A lot of these things people do because they think they’re going to lose weight,
But because they don’t understand the underlying mechanism or how to do it properly, it ends up backfiring and it makes things worse.
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