By Glenn D. Meyers, MD
We know why we gain weight when we’re not exercising or watching our diets. How do we explain/understand weight gain when we are dieting and exercising? More than likely, it’s a variety of things working together that result in weight gain.
Here are five factors that cause weight gain when we least expect it:
1. Lack of Sleep– The body functions best when well rested. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies experience physiological stress and, biochemically, we store fat more efficiently. (i.e. the stress of sleep deprivations interferes with the proper functioning of our metabolism.)When we’re tired, we don’t handle stress well and we may reach for food as a coping mechanism.
2. Stress – The stress response, triggers a biochemical process that makes our bodies go into survival mode. Our bodies store fuel, metabolism slows down, and we dump out chemicals [cortisol, leptin, and other hormones] which increase fat in our belly region. When we stress eat, we go for high-carbohydrate foods because carbs trigger an increase in serotonin in the brain, which calms us down.
3. Medications – Some prescription drugs used to treat depression, mood disorders, seizures, migraines, blood pressure, and diabetes MAY cause weight gain. Some steroids, hormone replacement therapy,and even oral contraceptives MAY also cause gradual weight gain.The most common types of medications that cause weight gain are:
- Antiseizure medications
- Diabetes medications
- High blood pressure medications
- Heartburn medications
However, remember NOT to stop these medications or even adjust them without first consulting with our Physicians. A small amount of weight gain may be a small trade-off for our overall health. Also, even if our medications are the cause of our weight gain, we still need to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
4. A Medical Condition – Most commonly a deficiency of thyroid hormone called hypothyroidism which decreases metabolism, causes appetite loss and weight gain.
5. Menopause – Women reach menopause most commonly in midlife when they are more inactive physically. Hormonal changes that increase hunger, depression, and poor sleep come at the same time as aging slows metabolism.
Estrogen leads to fat deposition in the lower body, and as this hormone level decreases, fat is deposited in the midsection as well.
Women need to understand how critically important weight lifting and strength training is to their health. A combination of exercise and a healthy, calorie-controlled diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is an important answer to thwarting menopausal weight gain.
In Summary: At the end of the day, lack of sleep, too much stress, some medications, some medical conditions, and menopause are all factors that lead to weight gain even when we are dieting and exercising appropriately. So we shouldn’t get frustrated, we should just look into these issues to figure out why we aren’t losing weight when we should be.
Dr. Glenn D. Meyers received his medical degree from the University of Miami, which was completed in 1983. Dr. Meyers’ internal medicine internship and residency was fulfilled at Worcester Memorial Hospital.
At Continucare, he functions as the Medical Director for the MSO (Medical Service Organization) Division and the coding Department. Dr. Meyers helps manage the Continucare Cardiology network of referrals and providers,trains IPA Physicians in the proper documentation for MRA coding, Five-star, and HEDIS, and is in the process of helping to identify new practices for the expansion of the Continucare model. He is also the Medical Director of four North Broward Medical Centers as he oversees and aids in the care given by ten of our Primary Care Physicians.