General Health Thursday March 17, 2016

Gained weight but don't feel 'fatter'? Here's why

Hold on! I've put on 4 pounds - how has that happened. I've not been eating any more than usual.

This is a pretty common utterance (I suspect) in bathrooms across the country. Do you need new glasses or new scales? Nope - it's likely to be one of these reasons.


If you know you're suffering from depression and take meds for it then you'll probably be aware they can cause weight gain, but if you aren't taking pills?

Comfort-eating is something many of us do when we feel sad, anxious or depressed but often we don't realise we're overeating. Keep a food diary and be honest! See your doctor if you feel overwhelmed.


The stereotype is that exercising will help you LOSE weight, however, depending on the type of exercise, you could be gaining. This is because muscle weighs more than fat. You may also be paying more attention to your drinking habits - if you are hydrated you will weigh more.


As well as meds for depression, the pill, beta-blockers, steroids, anti-seizure medication, rheumatoid arthritis and migraine treatment can cause weight gain.

If you think medication is increasing your weight, and you are not happy with the amount, ask your doctor if there's an alternative drug.

Diet Deficiencies

A lack of iron, magnesium or vitamin D can affect your energy levels and your metabolism, slowing you down to tortoise pace.

If you lack iron, energy levels can be non-existent and that makes exercise impossible. Adjust your diet to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. If you don't feel better see your GP for some blood tests and advice on supplements.

Drinking alcohol

Alcohol is packed with calories. A glass of wine is the equivalent of a Cornetto ice-cream, and as it's not food, people tend to underthink alcohol's calories. A 13% strength glass of red wine can contain 228 calories and a pint of lager can contain 180 calories. If you've had a few more over the course of a week or so your weight will reflect this.


As we age our metabolisms slow down adding pounds to the waistline. It's important to keep active and eat the right amounts as we get older. A 50 year old probably won't need as many calories as a twenty year old unless they are exercising heavily. The menopause is a classic time for weight gain.

Cushing's Syndrome

A rare condition that causes weight gain is Cushing's Syndrome. The tell-tale sign is weight gain around the midsection, which leaves arms and legs thin in comparison. It's caused by a rise in cortisol and may be triggered by lupus, asthma or arthritis drugs.


Problems with a thyroid can send your body in either direction. Hypothyroidism means not enough thyroid hormones are produced and you may gain weight.

Lack of Sleep

Not enough sleep can upset the immune system, make us stressed and potentially gain weight. This is because lack of sleep changes our satiety and hunger hormones - leading to excessive appetite and overeating.

If you find you're putting on weight but can't figure out why it's a good time to see your doctor for a check-up. Weight gain is unhealthy in itself, but it can be a symptom of an underlying illness too. Don't ignore it - take some action.


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