The five unexpected reasons you’re gaining weight

Close Up Of Overweight Woman Trying To Fasten Trousers In Bedroom Gaining Weight

Eating healthily, exercising regularly… you should be in perfect shape, right? But why oh why does it seem that sometimes, no matter what we do, those extra pounds still seem to keep creeping on.

Close Up Of Overweight Woman Trying To Fasten Trousers In Bedroom Gaining WeightWell, although it’s discouraging, there are usually some good reasons why you’re not losing weight – or why you keep putting it on.

1 Health foods

It’s healthy so you can eat lots of it. Erm, no. Unfortunately, these foods follow the same rules as regular foods. Organic and low-fat products still contain calories that you need to burn off.

Dr. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating stated, “People given low-fat granola ate 35% more than people who thought they were eating regular granola.” A calorie is a calorie is a calorie and eating too much of almost anything can cause your jeans to feel snug.

2 Dehydration

When your body doesn’t get its recommended eight glasses of water a day, toxins set up shop in your fat cells. As it turns out, your body doesn’t want to let that toxic fat go unless it can flush it out safely. And in order to do that, your body has to be properly hydrated.

“Experts unanimously agree that we should drink approximately half our body weight in ounces of water daily,” (that’s about 15ml per pound of body weight) says holistic health practitioner Nancy Yearn.

I know that sounds like a lot, and at first, you may be peeing out your eyeballs. Pretty soon though, your body will adjust, you’ll feel great and you won’t be heading to the bathroom every five minutes.

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3 Hypothyroidism

This is a very common condition where your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. If you have put on weight without knowing why and you’re constantly wiped out even when you get a full night’s sleep, it might be a good idea to visit your GP.

Your thyroid and metabolism are closely connected. OB/GYN Marcelle Pick states, “Thyroid hormones basically regulate calorie consumption.” People with hypothyroidism are prone to having low basal metabolic rates (BMR), which is the amount of calories your bodies burn while at rest.

Weight gain is one of the most obvious signs of a sluggish thyroid, as well as hair loss, brittle nails and a foggy memory.

Hypothyroidism is easy to treat for most people. They’ll simply take some form of thyroid hormone replacement and more often than not, the symptoms will go away.

4 Lack of sleep

We know that sleep is important, but did you know you can actually gain weight when you’re sleep deprived?

If you’re lacking sleep, your body will be looking for any quick source of energy, which is good ole junk food. That’s right, the calorie-packed, sugary deliciousness of a doughnut, a large mocha frappuccino with extra whipped cream, or the blueberry scone the size of your thigh!

When you munch on these goodies, you’ll get a quick pick me up, but soon you’ll crash just as fast. What’s worse is now you’re left feeling even more wiped out than you were before indulging.

Oh but wait, there’s more…

When you’re super tired, your metabolism slows down. Yep, studies show that even after one night of skimping on shut eye, your body can burn up to 20% less while at rest. And if that’s not enough, meet our hormone friends ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin clues you in on when it’s time to eat and leptin lets you know when you’ve had enough.

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The real kicker is that when you don’t get enough sleep, you produce more ghrelin and less leptin. And that’s another reason the scales keep on creeping up.

5 Stress

When stress gets the better of you, adrenalin, corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and you release cortisol. These give you the oomph you need for the fight-or-flight response. And Cortisol, the hormone that you secrete to help replenish your body after the stress has gone, also unfortunately boosts our appetite.

“The problem lies in our neuroendocrine system, a brain-to-body connection that harkens back to evolutionary times and which helped our distant ancestors to survive,” says Elissa Epel, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco.

Even though our stress is more likely to come from a project deadline rather than getting chased down by a wild beast, it still sets off the same hormones when the pressure is on.

On top of making you hungry, if you tend to be an emotional eater, comfort food is something you’ll probably reach for during times of stress.

The good news is most of the reasons above are relatively simple to fix: drinking more water, getting enough sleep and keeping your stress to a minimum are all basic actions in self care.

As simple as they are though, they’re not always easy. You have to make a conscious effort to incorporate these actions into your daily routine.

Take a water bottle with you everywhere you go. Try going to bed 15 minutes earlier than you normally would and slowly increase that amount of time each week.

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So remember, while juggling your job, the family and everything else in between, don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. You could see those pesky pounds melt away as a result…


Bouchez, C. (n.d.). Can Stress Cause Weight Gain. [online]

Hearn, N. (2009). 12 common symptoms of dehydration. [online]

Hoy, K. (2014). Smarter Lunchrooms- Part 1. [online] California School Nutrition Association.

Pick, M. (n.d.). Hypothyroidism, Thyroid Issues and Weight Gain | Women to Women. [online]

Walton, A. (2011). Sleep: More Reasons to Get Your Zzzzs – The Doctor. [online]

About Katie Jenkins

Hi there, I am a fitness fanatic and professional dancer of over 13 years. After struggling with my weight for most of my adult life, I have finally been able to to put that battle to bed (most of the time anyway!) by figuring out thoughtful and unique methods for losing weight, improving eating habits and fitness. I am the creator of the health and fitness blog HungryBeastling and I currently live in San Diego, CA with my husband and wonderful dog Malka!