Gaining weight when you don’t want to is a common problem, especially during these cold days and nights. Usually, the cause is simple — we eat more calories than we burn up during our daily activities as we are staying in the warmth rather than getting out and burning the calories off. However, there are several other potential causes for unintentional weight gain.
Inactivity is a common contributor to weight gain and chronic diseases. Working a desk job, watching TV, driving, and using a computer or phone are all sitting activities. People, who in average have daily sitting time of 6.2 hours on working days and 6 hours on non-working days have more excess weight. Work-related tasks were the largest contributor, followed by watching TV. Research has also shown that engaging in excessive screen time contributes significantly to unintentional weight gain
Recommendation: Making a few simple lifestyle changes, such as exercising and sitting less, can make a big difference. Small adjustments, such as taking a walk after dinner instead of watching TV, working out or walking during your lunch break or riding your bike to work, can counterweight gain.
Yo- Yo dieting refers to cycles of intentional weight loss followed by unintentional weight regain. This pattern is linked to an increased risk of weight gain over time. Studies also reveal that restrictive eating and dieting may lead to future weight gain due to your body’s physiological responses, such as changes in hunger and fullness hormones.
Recommendation: To keep weight off long term, you should focus on sustainable lifestyle changes. These include a balanced diet, regular exercise, cutting out processed and sugary foods, and eating nutrient-dense, whole foods rich in fibre and protein.
Getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night is associated with gaining weight. The reason for this, at least partially, is that restricting sleep increases the appetite suppressing hormone leptin, and increases the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin. So, when we are sleep deprived, we are hungrier and we eat more. Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Insufficient sleep may trigger weight gain, among other negative effect. Studies have shown people who slept fewer than 6 hours daily had the highest body mass index (BMI) and the highest levels of visfatin (a protein secreted by fat cells), compared to who slept 6 hours or more per day.
Recommendation: As such, increasing your sleep time may aid weight loss. If you have poor sleep quality, you can try limiting screen time before bed, reducing your caffeine intake, and going to sleep at a consistent time.
Don’t eat enough whole foods
If you regularly eat processed foods, switching to a diet that’s higher in whole foods and fibre is an easy and effective way to promote weight loss and improve many other aspects of your health. In fact, the most important factor in weight loss is choosing whole, minimally processed foods.
Recommendation: Incorporating whole foods into your diet doesn’t have to be difficult. Start by slowly adding more nutrient-dense whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, beans, eggs, nuts, and seeds, into your meals and snacks.
Chronic stress is a common problem that can affect your weight. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase hunger and your desire for highly palatable, calorie-dense foods, which can cause weight gain. Interestingly, stress management may promote weight loss.
Recommendation: To reduce stress, try incorporating evidence-based relaxation practices into your routine. These include yoga, spending time in nature, and meditation.