Weight gain is very prevalent in our society today and there are a lot of people who are depressed about their weight. It’s important to be educated on the things that make you gain weight so you then know what steps to take to live a healthy lifestyle both physically, mentally, and socially.
Lets dig in and discuss some of the reasons today and I won’t leave you until I give you some ways to deal with weight gain as well.
Stress triggers cortisol production, and cortisol stimulates your body to hang on to energy, because you might need it to fight or to run from whatever is threatening you.
This is fine when the threat can be immediately taken care of so that your body can go back to a calm, non-threatened state.
But when the threat is vague or constant, like a chaotic home environment or a stressful workplace or bullying at school—or simply the million and one demands of a busy modern lifestyle—then your brain can’t ever shut down because the threats never really go away.
Your brain and body are in constant high-alert, cortisol levels are always high, and hanging on to energy (in the form of fat stored in cells) becomes normal.
Look for ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life by removing triggers and saying no to stressful things. Explore stress reduction tactics like deep breathing, prayer, meditation, journaling, taking things over with friends, or being in nature.
Fat to Muscle Conversion
After a several year break from working out, I hit the gym again. I worked out every day for a week, and when I stepped on the scale, I had gained three pounds.
I was shocked and I felt betrayed. All this hard work and I GAIN weight?! Then I remembered something I should have remembered before. Muscle weighs a lot more than the same mass of fat.
I didn’t measure my waist size before and after that first week of working out, but if I had I’m sure that it would have been smaller. This kind of weight gain is especially common in those who used to be fit and got a little flabby.
When you start working out again, that flab converts back to muscle, the muscle tissue weighs more than the fat did, and just at first you may gain weight instead of losing.
Remember that the number on the scale is not the measurement that really matters so keep going. In another few weeks, assuming you are also eating nutritiously and not getting too many calories, you should see some progress on the scale too. Meanwhile, enjoy the increased muscle and the increased energy.
Well if you are and you are still slowly gaining weight, the culprit may be in your drinks.
It’s easy to overlook the number of calories in soda, chocolate milk, sports drinks, fruit juices, and other drinks. A single 12 oz can of regular coke contains 150 calories, mostly from sugar.
That’s nearly a tenth of the calories you need in a day. Even one high carbohydrate drink per day can easily tip your caloric intake higher than what you need for maintenance.
In addition, the blood sugar spike that comes from drinking sugary drinks predisposes your body to become insulin resistant and to store more fat.
Replace sugary drinks with pure water, and if plain water is too boring for you, add some fresh fruit to your water bottle to create a delicious and nearly sugar free fruit infused water.
The Renin Angiotensin Activating System (RAAS)
This system works in conjunction with your kidneys. When those systems detect high levels of sodium in your blood, that gets interpreted as dehydration.
The kidneys begin to hold on to water to try to dilute the salt content back down to a normal level. This works just fine if you really are dehydrated.
But if you simply had a very salty meal, suddenly your body not only has more salt than it really needs, it also has more water sloshing around than what is needed.
A salty meal every now and then will just make you feel bloated afterward, and then your RAAS and kidneys will flush out the extra salt and restore normal balance.
The real problems begin when you get a sodium overload every day. Then bloating becomes a way of life, blood pressure rises, blood vessels get stressed, the kidneys and heart need to work harder than normal, and you gain weight.
Many quick weight loss schemes take advantage of this mechanism and include a diuretic in their products. Diuretics stimulate your kidneys to dump more water into the urine, so you pee out some of the extra weight.
For as long as you continue to take the diuretic, your weight will stay down a little bit and you’ll stay dehydrated and the sensitive regulatory system that includes the RAAS and the kidneys will stay out of balance.
A much better approach is to cut down the salt content of your food by eating naturally low sodium diet. With a bit of time—as little as few days can make a big difference—the sodium levels in your blood will drop to normal and your kidneys will get the go ahead to release that extra fluid.
Reading labels for sodium content is important, but watch out for sodium substitutes, which have many of the same negative effects on your body.
An even better way is to choose a whole foods diet with small amount of sea salt used in cooking. Eating whole fresh foods is more flavorful and the side effects are all good!
Weight Loss Shakes
It’s frustrating to be on a liquid diet, hungry all the time, and then you realize that you are actually getting way more calories than you thought you were. Weight loss and protein shakes don’t have to be healthy, and some of them certainly are not!
A second problem with using shakes for weight loss is that your body may not register the shake as a meal, which means relentless cravings and hunger pangs.
And even if it fills you up, replacing meals with shakes doesn’t help you learn to regulate food. For many people, that means that when you eventually start eating again it’s easy to gain back the weight you lost, and then some.
If you choose to use weight loss shakes or protein shakes, make sure they don’t have lots of sugar, high fructose corn syrup or other junk. Don’t use shakes as meal replacements unless there is no other option.
Instead, choose high quality protein shakes as pre or post-workout fuel or use part of a shake over ice as an alternative dessert.
Limiting Calorie Intake
To folks who have been on the limited-calorie kick for a long time, this may come as a shock—or maybe as a relief. Thing is, calorie restriction is a key part of successful weight loss.
But if you eat so little that your body thinks you’re starving, your metabolism will kick into starvation mode.
When a person is starving, the body will hang on to every available speck of fat and energy. That’s great if you are in a famine, or in a concentration camp, or being held captive by evil people who aren’t feeding you.
But if you are simply trying to lose weight, holding on the fat is exactly what you don’t want to have happen.
It seems counterintuitive, but if you think about it for a bit, a starving body is not wanting to lose weight. Men usually need around 2,000 calories a day for sustained weight loss, women around 1,500. Women shouldn’t drop below 1,200 calories a day, men not below 1,500 calories a day.
There you have it. Half a dozen unexpected ways to sabotage your weight loss journey. The good news is, now you won’t waste your valuable time with counter-productive weight loss attempts, and you’ll be able to avoid the traps that may have been keeping you stuck.
I’m sure there are other ways to NOT lose weight. What have you tried that made you gain weight? Or maybe been warned about by a friend or family member who tried it? Let us know in the comments, so others can keep from making the same mistakes!