15 Possible Reasons For Sudden Weight Gain

Photo: unsplash / angelika agibalova
Why Am I Gaining Weight? Common Causes Of Sudden Weight Gain

It's not just in your head.

For many men and women, dealing with weight gain is a normal occurrence. Human beings aren't made of stone — we're made of water, muscle, tissue, fat, bone and more.

To maintain a weight of their choosing, most people exercise regularly and eat in a mindful way. Crash diets aren't good for your body or effective in the long-term. As difficult as it may be to change our lives, if long-term weight loss is a goal, a lifelong lifestyle change is the only way of achieving it for keeps.

Still, even when you're doing everything right, sometimes sudden weight gain can leave you feeling disheartened and taken aback.

You're counting calories, working out, drinking loads of water, getting lots of sleep, but the numbers on the scale are still creeping up!

You keep asking yourself, "why am I gaining weight?" Could there be some other factor at play?

RELATED: 15 Weird Things That Might Be Causing Your Sudden Weight Gain

It turns out that the answer is yes! Here are the most common reasons for unexplained weight gain, according to the experts below.

1. Slow thyroid

Your thyroid (found beneath your Adam's Apple) is responsible for regulating your metabolism.

If you're noticing sudden weight gain, your thyroid could be slow or sluggish, which can make your metabolism slow down in a major way.

“If you’ve suddenly put on weight for no apparent reason, I suggest you see a doctor so a medical professional can decide whether it is a thyroid issue or another cause,” says Biggest Loser dietitian Cheryl Forberg.

2. Water intake

No, I'm not about to tell you that you've got to start drinking more water, but I will tell you that drinking two glasses before you eat will work wonders, according to new research.

If you aren't drinking enough water, your body can start to hold it in (water retention) and that can appear as added pounds on your scale!

3. Depression

If you're a depressed person and you're on a medication to treat that depression, it can mean serious sudden weight gain.

Alissa Rumsey, Registered Dietitian and Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says, “Some medications may cause food cravings, especially for carbs, and some find that their medication increases their appetite. The drugs may affect metabolism negatively as well.”

Alternatively, sometimes depressed people lose their desire to eat food, and when their meds kick in, they suddenly have an appetite again! Amazing what treating depression can do.

4. High-intensity exercise

Yes, all that spinning and CrossFit you've been doing could actually be causing you way more harm than good. It turns out that people who take these classes regularly tend to increase the number of calories they eat per day, which is often unnecessary.

These added calories aren't going away when you hop on the bike in spin class, because if you're doing it regularly, your body adjusts to the new routine.

5. Shopping habits

This one is just plain bizarre, and frankly I'd expect the opposite — but it's apparently true.

If you shop at a grocery store with self-checkout, you should use it. Studies have shown that impulse candy purchasing dips dramatically when people scan their own goods. Plus, you're getting an arm work out with all that scanning!

If you're gaining weight and still having a cashier check you out, this could be a factor.

6. Staying up late

If you're a night-owl like me, this one is a serious bummer, but the rumors are true: missing out on sleep will make you gain weight.

“Lack of sleep can lead to increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, and decreased levels of leptin, the satiety hormone,” said Rumsey. “Research also shows that when we’re sleep-deprived, our brains respond more strongly to junk food and have less of an ability to practice portion control.”

7. Making healthy choices

You're eating out with friends but trying to eat in a healthy manner, so you pick what looks like the healthiest dish on the menu, but you still gain three pounds. What gives?!

Well, when your mind recognizes that you are eating something "healthy," it actually secretes more of that hunger hormone ghrelin, making you feel less full and more hungry, which, in turn, will lead you to over-eat.

Better to eat out less frequently, order what you'd like, and take half home to go!

RELATED: What It Means If You Start Gaining Weight For No Reason

8. Job stress

Everybody gets stressed out at work, but did you know that too much stress in the workplace can make you feel tremendously ill and it can make you gain weight!

That's right, bring that to your next review and tell 'em to pay for your gym membership!

“The hormone cortisol is released when our body is under stress that causes triglycerides to be relocated to visceral fat cells, increasing storage of belly fat,” says Rumsey. “Elevated cortisol levels also cause an increase in blood glucose, while suppressing the effects of insulin, leading to constant feelings of hunger and can lead to overeating. To make matters worse, all of that unused blood glucose is eventually stored as body fat.”

9. Sodium

All of your dieting, exercising, and water-drinking will be for naught if you aren't being aware of how much sodium you're eating on a daily basis.

Salt is delicious and necessary to keep our brains functioning, but salt also is responsible for making you retain water in your guts. This doesn't just hamper good digestion, it makes you bloated and heavier than you really are due to water weight.

RELATED: 10 No-Good, Very Bad Habits That Are *Secretly* Making You Fat

10. Lack of protein

If you're eating well and still gaining weight, you might want to look at what you're eating. Missing out on protein can actually make you much more susceptible to weight gain.

“If you aren’t consuming enough protein to keep your muscles and cells healthy, the body ends up breaking down muscle to access the nutrients it needs, and this spells trouble. Less muscle mass means a slower metabolism, which over time, can cause weight gain,” says Rumsey.

11. No sweets

Sometimes your diet can be too rigid. If you always opt for the diet treats instead of splurging on the real deal, chances are you're on your way to gaining weight and you don't even know it.

The sugar replacements and other additives in these treats can actually leave you feeling less satisfied, and thus, lead you to eating more. Better to stick to the real deal in moderation.

12. Medication

It isn't just antidepressants that can cause weight gain, there are plenty of other medications that do so as well.

“Some drugs stimulate the appetite or slow the body’s metabolism. Others cause fluid retention or enough drowsiness to reduce physical activity, which can trigger weight gain," advises Rumsey.

13. Sore body

If you're feeling sore or have existing muscular issues, this can lead to weight gain too.

"Musculoskeletal conditions that cause pain can lead to a decrease in physical activity, which can cause weight gain over time—especially if you are eating the same amount that you were eating when you were more active,” warns Rumsey.

14. Using a cart

Using a full cart at the grocery store means you have more room for junk food and other grocery items you may want, but don't exactly need.

"Grabbing a basket instead of a cart can be a simple, yet effective way to stick to your grocery list, and just buy what you need," RDN Emily Cooper told Insider, adding, "Carrying around a heavy basket will encourage you to get to the checkout line even faster."

15. Age

Yup. Sad but true. Once you hit 30 your metabolism begins to slow down. You're not the person who can eat a pint of ice cream consequence-free anymore!

Adjusting your diet to suit your current body and current lifestyle will be a helpful solution to this problem.

RELATED: 15 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Starting Your Weight Loss Journey

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. Her work focuses on relationships, pop culture and news. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.