By on June 9, 2016

Weight loss, in the context of medicine, health or physical fitness, is a reduction of the total body mass, due to a mean loss of fluid, body fat (oradipose tissue) and/or lean mass, namely bone mineral deposits, muscle, tendon and other connective tissues. It can arise from a conscious effort to improve an actual or perceived overweight or obese state or can occur unintentionally due to an underlying disease.


It is important to know the cause of a particular medical condition before we know how to cure, tackle or prevent such. So weight gain results from one or a combination of the following factors:

1. Inadequate sleep and keeping late nights

The body functions best when well rested. When we do not get enough sleep, our body experiences physiological stress and, biochemically, this makes it easy for our body to store fat more efficiently.

This results because we may be taking in extra calories from late-night snacking. Some of us think eating might help us get back to sleep, but all it really does is add more calories to our daily total.

Symptoms that you may not be getting enough rest include fatigue, low energy levels, nodding off easily, and feeling irritable.

Strive to get eight hours of sleep each night.

Add about 15 minutes to your bedtime and see how you feel and continue to experiment with additional 15-minute increments until you find the actual amount of sleep that is right for you.

When you develop good sleeping rituals and get regular exercise, you sleep better.

2. Diseases and Illness (Medical Condition)

The most common medical condition that causes weight gain is Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is the deficiency of thyroid hormone, this can decrease metabolism, causing appetite loss and weight gain.

If you are feeling fatigued, lethargic, swelling, hoarse voice, intolerance to cold, sleeping too much, or having headaches, you should see your doctor for an easy test to determine if you have hypothyroidism. 

Much rarer is a condition known as Cushing's syndrome, which is a disorder caused by an excess of the hormone cortisol which can also result in weight gain.

3. Menopause

Women reach menopause at a range of ages, but most are in midlife and are often less physically active than when they were younger. Along with aging comes a natural slowing of metabolism. At the same time, hormonal changes can trigger hunger, depression, and poor sleep.

When women go through menopause, they lose estrogen, causing their shapes to change — usually a loss of hip and thigh weight. And they start to gain more weight in the middle because estrogen favors fat deposition in the lower body, and when you lose this hormone, fat is more likely to be deposited in the midsection (much like men).  This spare tire around the middle has been not so affectionately called the menopot.

The key to avoiding this extra belly fat is to maintain and increase the amount of lean body mass, which will, in turn, increase your metabolism or calorie burn rate.

Women need to understand how critically important weight lifting and strength training is to their health, Doing strength training won't make women muscle-bound, experts say.

Exercise also helps offset bone loss that can come with menopause.  A combination of exercise and a healthy, calorie-controlled diet rich in Calcium and Vitamin D is the answer to thwarting menopausal weight gain.

4. Too much stress and continued stress

We live in a society that demands we do more, be more, and achieve more. Stress moves us forward and helps cope with life's demands, but it also affects our mood and emotions.

Stress response, whether it is 'fight-or-flight,' juggling too many responsibilities, or coping with financial pressures, triggers a biochemical process where our bodies leaves its thriving mode and go into survival mode. Our bodies store fuel, slow down metabolism, and dump out chemicals [cortisol, leptin, and other hormones] which are more likely to cause obesity in the abdominal region.

Many people reach for food to help ease the stress. But, of course, this doesn't work in the long run.

Food as a coping mechanism is a temporary fix because it does not deal with the real stressors that must be addressed in order to reduce the trigger for eating and fix the problem

People who are fund of eating when stressed(stress eaters) tend to prefer high-carbohydrate foods because these foods trigger an increase in the brain chemical serotonin, which has a calming effect. It is almost like self-medicating. Many people binge on starchy foods to make themselves feel better.

Medical experts recommend relaxation techniques as well as exercise, which burns calories and provides other health benefits.

5. Medications/ drugs you are taking

Some prescribed drugs used to treat depression, mood disorders, seizures, migraines, blood pressure, and diabetes can cause weight gain, from a modest amount to as much as 10 pounds per month. Some steroids, hormone replacement therapy, and even oral contraceptives may also cause gradual weight creep. Your medicine cabinet might be the cause of your weight gain if you've gained 5 or more pounds in a month without a change in your lifestyle.

Every drug works a little differently to cause weight gain, from increasing appetite, altering the way fat is stored, to how insulin levels change, and not all drugs have the same side effects on all people.

In the case of antidepressants, weight gain may not even be related to the action of the drug, feeling better can also result in a heartier appetite. Some drugs can cause fluid retention that shows up on the scale as weight gain, but is not fat, and is usually easily corrected.

Experts say that some of the most common types of medications that may cause weight gain are:

  • Steroids
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Diabetes medications
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Heartburn medications

But it's important to remember that a few extra pounds may be well worth the trade-off of what a particular medication does for your overall health. If your medications are the cause of your weight gain, you still need to be mindful of eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

Rarely is the problem solved with a change in med, these things can contribute, but rarely are they the sole cause of the weight gain.

If you suspect your medication is causing weight gain, talk to your health care provider to see about changing your prescription. But whatever you do, don't go off your medication without seeking medical advice.

"There could be very serious consequences if you stop taking your medication without consulting your physician.

 6.Watching too much television

Television (TV) watching is the favorite pastime in the U.S., and it’s become the favorite in many other parts of the world, too. After work and sleep, TV viewing is the most commonly reported activity in the U.S., taking up just over half of all leisure time.

Similarly, in Australia, people spend about half of their free time watching TV, and across several countries in Europe, television takes up about 40 percent of people’s leisure time.In the U.S., people average about five hours of TV time each day, and in a few European countries, TV time rivals or exceeds that of the U.S.

Television is still the most widely-viewed screen worldwide,but these TV habits are part of a larger trend: Globally, people are spending more time sitting at work and at home, and there’s mounting evidence that this “sit time” is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.

Sedentary activities not only TV watching, but also working at desk jobs, using computers, playing video games, driving cars, and the like burn few calories and may replace more active pursuits. Increasingly, though, there’s evidence that watching TV, watching junk food ads on TV promotes obesity by changing mainly what and how much people eat, less so by changing how much they move.

And there’s good evidence that cutting back on TV time can help with weight control—part of the reason why many organizations recommend that children and teens limit TV/media time to no more than two hours per day.Studies that follow children over long periods of time have consistently found that the more TV children watch, the more likely they are to gain excess weight.

Children that have TV sets in their bedrooms are also more likely to gain excess weight than children who don’t. And there’s evidence that early TV habits may have long-lasting effects: Two studies that followed children from birth found that TV viewing in childhood predicts obesity risk well into adulthood and mid-life.


Ask your health care provider how much weight you should gain. A woman who is of average weight before getting pregnant should gain 25 to 35 pounds after becoming pregnant. Underweight women should gain 28 to 40 pounds. And overweight women may need to gain only 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.

In general, you should gain about 2 to 4 pounds during the first three months you're pregnant and 1 pound a week during the rest of your pregnancy. If you are expecting twins you should gain 35 to 45 pounds during your pregnancy. This would be an average of 1 ½ pounds per week after the usual weight gain in the first three months.

It's especially important to gain the right amount of weight when you're expecting twins because your weight affects the babies' weight. And because twins are often born before the due date, a higher birth weight is important for their health. When carrying twins, you may need between 3,000 and 3,500 calories a day.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help your baby get the nutrients he or she needs and grow at a healthy rate. But how many extra calories do you really need?

Though you do need some extra calories, it's not necessary to ''eat for two.'' The average pregnant woman needs only about 300 healthy calories more a day than she did before she was pregnant. This will help her gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy.

If a woman is very overweight when she gets pregnant, her doctor may want her to lose weight. She should only lose weight under her doctor's care. But in most cases, women should not try to lose weight or diet during pregnancy

If your health care provider wants you to gain weight while you're pregnant, try these tips:

-Eat five to six small meals every day.

-Keep quick, easy snacks on hand, such as nuts, raisins, cheese and crackers, dried fruit, and ice cream or yogurt.

-Spread peanut butter on toast, crackers, apples, bananas, or celery. One tablespoon of creamy peanut butter gives you about 100 calories and 7 grams of protein.

-Add nonfat powdered milk to mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and hot cereal.

-Add extras to your meal, such as butter, cream cheese, gravy, sour cream, and cheese. Do not use margarine.

8. Lack of Fiber

Americans in general are overweight because the American diet is literally stripped of fiber.

It is recommended that most people should consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day ,some experts even suggest consuming up to a minimum of 37 grams per day. Women between the ages of 20 to 55 years old, on average, are only getting 56 percent of their recommended daily fiber. Men are only getting 47 percent.

Fiber is a special type of carbohydrate found primarily in plant foods — fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fiber is indigestible, meaning it passes through the digestive system unchanged. However, it is essential for overall health. It helps reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, lowers cholesterol, and may decrease the risk of some cancers, including colon, ovarian, and breast.

Consuming adequate fiber has also been associated with a reduced risk of gall stones, kidney stones, and diverticular diseases. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and it is strongly believed that one of the reasons we are so hungry and eating more is because we've stripped the fiber content from food.

Fiber keeps you feeling full for a long period of time, which means you are less likely to need to snack or overeat at the next meal. Not that snacking in general is bad, but snacking contributes to one-fourth of Americans' daily caloric intake and that too often people choose snacks with minimal fiber.

Chips, cookies, crackers, sweetened beverages, and frozen desserts contain virtually no fiber. People who eat these foods to try to satisfy their appetites only find themselves hungry again soon after. Diets based on such refined foods create a serious cycle of eating and hunger all day long.

Fiber-rich foods help with weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight. And it's nice to know that a healthy weight is possible with foods that are high in nutrients as opposed to diets that leave out entire food groups. So many diets fail because people focus on what they are cutting out.

Since fiber takes longer to digest compared to refined carbohydrates, it results in feeling full longer, which can curb consumption. Additionally, foods rich in fiber are usually lower in calories than refined foods and provide a load of other nutrients, including antioxidants.

Researchers found that women who doubled their fiber intake from 12 to 24 grams per day cut their absorption by 90 calories a day. What does that mean for the average woman? A 9.4 pound weight loss in a year. That may not seem like much for a year, but with the addition making sure you are consuming a healthy, balanced diet, and exercise, you could experience even greater weight loss.

Research even suggests that people who have higher intakes of fiber tend to have healthier body weights.

Reasons why you need fibre

-Fiber promotes weight loss by acting like a sponge in your digestive tract, absorbing other molecules like carbs, fats, and sugars, along with all their calories – and preventing them from settling on your hips. In one study, scientists determined that for every gram of fiber ingested, your body excretes an average of 7 calories in the stool. That means that if you consumed 35 grams of fiber in one day, you would excrete 245 calories in your stool just by increasing your fiber intake.

-Getting enough fiber in your diet has never been so convenient or tasty. These are easy, delicious ways to fill up on fiber.

-Plant-based foods are typically high in fiber. Create meals based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes and seeds. Some of good sources of fiber are lentils, whole wheat spaghetti and pistachios. Eating foods such as these increase your intake of foods naturally high in fiber

To get more fibre in your food read labels and choose foods with more fiber

-Due to the recent focus on the health benefits of fiber, food manufacturers have responded with an increasing variety of foods high in fiber.

There is now more variety than just foods which naturally contain fiber like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. In addition to naturally fiber-rich foods, seek out yogurts, cereals, chips, breads, pastas and even orange juice that now come loaded with fiber.

-Nutrition expert suggests simply adding a couple of grams of fiber to each meal is an easy and effective way to get consumers closer to the daily recommended intake and experiencing fiber's benefits.

-Combining a variety of fiber-rich foods in a meal makes it even more convenient to reach your daily fiber needs.

9. Eating "Low-Fat" foods/lack of fatty acids

In our culture, most overweight results from excessive consumption of sweet and starchy foods. If we limit our intake of carbohydrates to our body’s energy requirement, normal body weight is easily achieved. Fats suppress appetite and therefore help to stabilize body weight.

The good fats (omega-3 especially and omega-6) increase body fat burning, decrease body fat production, and increase body heat production i.e. fat burnoff without exercise. For best results, lower carbohydrate intake and increase consumption of good (omega-3 and omega-6) fats made with health in mind.

I know it might feel weird at first putting spoons of pure fat into your body – but these fats are different, in fact, I really wish they weren’t even called fats because it is so misleading!

Now you know how important fats are, that the right ones won’t make you fat and that the right ones are essential for your health, to get enough of these good fats: take coconut oil, flax oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds like flax, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts.

BUT avoid peanuts – they are always stored for ages and end up full of fungus and mold.

Avocado: eat plenty in salads and for snacks. Oily Fish are a smart addition to your diet

10. Depression

But do people gain weight because they are depressed? Or do they become depressed because of the excess pounds they are carrying? No one knows.

It is known that depression has lots of symptoms that can worsen loosing weight such as appetite disturbances, lack of energy, lack of motivation to do things. In 2009, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham reported that depressed people tend to gain weight faster than people who aren't depressed.

The bulk of those extra pounds was concentrated around their waists. That’s not good. Belly fat is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Depression, of course, comes with its own set of risk factors, including suicide, social isolation, drug and alcohol addiction, and anxiety.

Whichever comes first – depression or overweight, it is a very unhealthy combination

“Some foods, especially foods with high sugar and/or fat content, make you feel better, if only briefly,” says psychiatrist James Gordon, MD.

“That good feeling makes you want to eat more, which in turn makes you feel bad about yourself,” Gordon says. “That leads to deeper depression, and more eating, and greater amounts of weight gain. This leads to a serious cycle.”

Getting out of that cycle can be a real challenge. When you are depressed, it is much harder to get out of bed, much less paying attention to what you are eating.

Although weight gain is commonly associated with depression, weight loss can also be a problem.

With severe depression, you might lose weight because you’ve lost your interest in food, which comes from losing  interest in  pleasure. To combat this a therapy focusing on the patients’ depression is recommended for the first six weeks to eight weeks, low-key exercise is introduced to keep weight steady rather than bring it down once. After depression has been taken care of weight problem is then addressed.

It is seen that  exercise is the  best prescription for treating mild to moderate depression, as well as being helpful for severe depression. Taking a break from fast food and other unhealthy eating habits, make time to cook a meal for yourself.

 The depressed individual have to become aware of what and how he/she eat, through mindfulness. Very often, if you are anxious, you are going to eat more. But if you are in a state of relaxation, you won’t be eating frantically or mindlessly.

Don’t be discouraged if therapy does not provide positive results right away. Treatment takes time. And keep in mind that treating depression and weight problems will likely require more than just a pill and a one-size-fits-all diet-plan.

However, It is important to have a comprehensive program, one that addresses all aspects of a patient’s problems and prepares him or her for the hard road back to health

11. Birth Control

The connection between oral contraceptives and weight gain has been the subject of many studies. One of the main conclusions of these studies is that birth control pills are able to cause weight gain in more than one way. Fortunately, there are ways of minimizing this side effect.

According to several studies, both birth control pills and contraceptive shots, such as DeproProvera, can have weight gain as a side effect. The tests involved teenagers who used these contraceptive measures for one year.

After this period, the average weight gain of contraceptive shot users was of 6.6 pounds, while the teenagers that took birth control pills had an average weight gain of 5.3 pounds. In 7 percent of birth control pills users, the weight gain exceeded 10 percent. On the other hand, the weight gain exceeded 10 percent of the body weight in 25 percent of contraceptive shot users.

Birth control pills based on estrogen often lead to water retention. The amount of fluid that is retained is directly proportional with the quantity of estrogen found in the pill. The explanation is given by the fact that estrogen directly stimulates several compounds from the kidneys that lead to fluid retention.

The compounds are known as renin-angiotensin. Oral contraceptives that contain around 20 mcg of estrogen are recommended for women who want to avoid fluid retention. Such a low concentration is known to be safe, according to several studies.

The oral contraceptives that were developed in the past affected insulin resistance, and to some extent even the newer pills are able to elevate insulin levels. When these levels rise, the energy obtained from the ingested carbohydrates is distributed mainly to fat cells. As a consequence, weight loss is prevented, even when a diet is followed.

However, not all women who take birth control pills are predisposed to weight gain. This side effect of oral contraceptives is most frequently observed in women with an abnormal glucose metabolism. Insulin resistance should be analyzed if there are no other explanations for weight gain when taking birth control pills.

Measures to Minimize Weight Gain

There is a tight connection between the estrogen concentration found in oral contraceptives and the number of extra pounds gained. Consequently, women are recommended to take birth control pills that contain as little estrogen as possible. At the moment, there are no contraceptives with less than 20 mcg of estrogen.

You are highly recommended to talk to your health care provider if you gain weight while taking birth control pills with more estrogen. If the gained weight exceeds 5 percent of the body weight, this may indicate that you have either an abnormal glucose metabolism or insulin resistance.

Besides changing the type of oral contraceptive that you take, you can also follow a diet that is low in carbohydrates, as these are the main cause of weight gain when you have an unusual glucose metabolism. By taking these measures, you may be able to avoid gaining extra pounds.




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