If Shakespeare were alive today, we would not be surprised if he were to rewrite that famous line in Hamlet as, “To eat or not to eat, that is the question”. It is a pricey question, as the sixty billion dollar weight loss industry will tell you. In fact, if you are experiencing unexplained weight gain, be prepared to be bombarded with a plethora of diet plans, weight loss tips, and cosmetic surgeries, all of which you will apparently need, just to get your weight back under control.
In this article, we list out ten factual reasons for unexplained weight gain. We also help you explore whether your situation warrants medical attention, and if this is not the case, help you bring about the desired weight loss through straightforward techniques.
What Medical Conditions Can Cause Unexplained Weight Gain?
As the medical community loves to remind us, the human body is the most evolved machine that exists. It is also an intelligent, holistic organism. This means that if any part of your body is out of ease, almost every other part will seek to remind you of this unease through disease. Hence, any unexplained weight gain can also be the result of a medical condition.
Reason 1: You Do Not Completely Digest What You Eat
This is the most common reason for unexplained weight gain. To digest every morsel of food you eat, your body needs to execute a set of intense metabolic activities. If there is any inefficiency in this process, the food stays undigested, and over time, transforms into fat. Ironically, this symptom of poor digestion may not be immediately obvious to us, as there are several complex factors which can reduce or adversely affect our digestive capacity.
For instance, diabetes can slow down the digestion of glucose and other sugars. Stomach disorders like IBS, Crohn’s disease, peptic ulcers, and GERD also weaken our digestive abilities. This leaves us with a poor metabolism that often leads to weight gain. Healing tip: to overcome this condition, give the body several hours to digest a meal completely before you consider the next meal.
Reason 2: Your Body Is Dehydrated
There is an old song for children that goes, “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink”. Sadly, this seems to be the default state of most adults. Almost 60% of the human body is made of water. This consistency needs to remain in order for our body organs to be effective. However, we also lose up to 3 liters of water every day (depending on body weight), due to sweat, urine, and other metabolic activities.
If you do not make up for this loss by drinking the required amount of water, your body will hoard it from the solids and fluids you consume. This too will slow down your metabolism and lead to unexplained weight gain. Healing tip: Dehydration also happens when you confuse thirst signals for hunger and reach for a snack instead of a glass of water. The next time you crave food, take an extra minute to respond. Are you hungry or simply thirsty?
Reason 3: You Started a New Medication
Do you know that there are several drugs – prescribed or otherwise – that can lead to unexplained weight gain? For instance, when you start on birth control pills, you may gain some weight during the initial weeks until your body settles down with the drug. Anti-depressants and other antipsychotic drugs can increase your appetite and thus lead to extra weight. Finally, drugs that contain some amount of steroids (like painkillers, vaccines, and epilepsy medication) can also result in unexplained weight gain. Healing tip: Consult your doctor before you stop or switch medication to minimize weight gain.
Is There a Need to Seek Medical Advice for Unexplained Weight Gain?
If your weight gain symptoms are merely a reflection of incorrect lifestyle habits, you do not need medical care to fix it. However, there are the rare cases where your body is communicating to you of a more serious medical condition, through the ungainly weight. Here are the most common ones:
Reason 4: You Suffer from Hormonal Imbalance
Did you know that one in ten women (of reproductive age) suffers from a hormonal imbalance? Among these, a significant percentage suffer from a medical condition called PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), which interferes with your body’s usage of insulin and other sugars. As a result, you may experience irregular monthly cycles, facial hair growth, and unexplained weight gain. While the exact cause of this disease is yet undetermined, experts believe that incorrect lifestyles often worsen the problem.
Reason 5: Your Thyroid Is Under-Performing
If there is one factor that instantly affects our digestion, our weight, and our quality of life, it is our metabolism. And if there is one organ that regulates the rate of our metabolism (by hormone generation), it is the thyroid. When the thyroid under-performs (due to hypothyroidism), you constantly feel tired and easily gain weight. This condition can be due to several complex factors, including radiation treatments and iodine deficiency. Healing tip: An active lifestyle can keep thyroid disorders at bay.
Reason 6: You May Be Pregnancy
Yes, a pregnancy will definitely cause unexplained weight gain, as you are now carrying an additional, new life. If you experience none of the other symptoms listed here, it is worthwhile considering a pregnancy test. Healing tip: Monitor your monthly cycles so you are never caught off-guard.
Reason 7: You May Have a Tumor
This can be harder to self-detect during the initial stages, as an abdominal tumor grows over time (this is also true for cysts and ovarian cancer). In fact, it is often mistaken for harmless but unexplained weight gain, primarily triggered by poor eating habits. If you experience constant pain in the lower abdomen, along with frequent bloating and pressure in that area, we suggest that you quickly schedule a visit to your doctor. This is one medical condition which warrants immediate attention.
Lifestyle Causes for Weight Gain and How to Lose It
Did you know that a poor lifestyle is often the first trigger for 80% of the reasons causing unexplained weight gain? Fortunately, these are easy to fix.
Reason 8: You Recently Gave Up Smoking
This may seem contrary, especially since smoking is detrimental to your health. However, nicotine has the advantage of reducing appetite and sugar cravings. When you quit smoking, your appetite returns to normal. This may lead to unexplained weight gain in the initial phase but will lead to good health in the long-term. Healing tip: Step up the exercise for the first few weeks. This will keep your mind distracted from smoking, and help you see through this difficult period without relapsing.
Reason 9: You Suffer from Stress, Anxiety, or Depression
There are many who consider stress an unavoidable evil in this modern society. Here, know how stress adversely affects your moods, hormones, metabolism, and your weight. When you feel stressed, you are running on adrenaline. This is not a good state, as the excess cortisol produced will not only make you hungry, it will store food as an instinctive flight-or-fight response. The result is unexplained weight gain. Stress can also lead to Cushing’s disease, which allows excess fat to collect in the abdominal region.
Anxiety takes you on a similar trip as it interferes with your sleep patterns. Finally, depression can lead to uncontrollable mood swings, which, in turn, push you to eat more and gain weight. Fortunately, all of these symptoms can be easily overcome by adopting a healthier and happier lifestyle. Healing tip: Consider mixing up your exercise routine to detract from boredom (which is a trigger for depression). You can also include restful exercises like yoga and tai chi as they also neutralize stress and anxiety.
Reason 10: You Have Inconsistent Eating, Sleeping, or Exercise Patterns
Our bodies are habitual and are easily conditioned by what we do every day. If we make instability and inconsistency as our lifestyle – especially with our eating, sleeping, and exercise patterns – the body too will follow suit and stay unstable and inconsistent in its functions. This will leave you with low energy levels, a poor metabolism, and excess weight. Fortunately, there is an upside to this. If you ferociously address reasons #1 and #10 only, you will still have an 80% chance of fixing that unexplained weight gain. Healing tip: Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and effortlessly wise.
In summary, it is good to know that barely two out of ten people can attribute unexplained weight gain to a serious medical condition. For the rest of us, an active and consistent lifestyle is a powerful key to banish this unwanted situation. As Bonnie Pfiester – a prolific fitness expert reminds us, “Fitness (and health) is like marriage. You can’t cheat on it and expect it to work”.