- Age – As you age, there is a natural slow-down in metabolism due to loss of lean body mass. A reduced metabolism means your body is burning less calories than it used to. If you’re still eating the same number of calories as you did when you are younger, then you’ll gain weight. Simple math – calories in vs. calories out.
- Sleep – A number of studies have shown that inadequate sleep (less than 7.5 hours a night) messes with the hunger and fullness hormones. Less sleep makes you feel hungrier and slower to feel full, so you end up eating more than you normally would to satiate yourself. Try to hit the hay a little earlier so you can log the sleep you need to stay healthy and trim.
- Stress – If you’re under a lot of stress (and who isn’t?), your body pumps out excess amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to increased fat storage, especially around your middle. Consider adding in some deep breathing exercises or meditation to help lower you stress level. It only takes a few minutes a day and is so worth it.
- Exercise – If you have been doing the same exercises day in and day out, your body has likely become more trained at performing them and actually burns less calories during that workout session. If you find yourself to be a cardio queen, consider hitting the weights. Weight training stimulates your lean muscle mass, increasing your metabolism.
- PCOS – Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition of hormonal imbalances leading to insulin resistance and increased body fat. Other markers of PCOS include cystic acne, increased facial hair, infertility, and a high number of ovarian cysts detected by ultrasound. If you’re concerned, get your hormone levels checked and have the doctor look at your ovaries with an ultrasound.
- Hypothyroidism – The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, is responsible for regulating your metabolism. If the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone, your metabolism slows down. Most cases of hypothyroidism are controlled by taking thyroid-replacement medication, but some can be fixed with dietary changes. Food sensitivities can be linked to thyroid disorders.
- Alcohol – A drink here, a drink there and those calories really add up. Ever heard the term “beer belly”? They call it that for a reason. Also, drinking decreases your inhibitions, making it easier to nibble on the nachos and throw back some bar nuts. Happy hour might need to renamed. Any suggestions?
- Smoking – Congratulations for kicking the habit! Unfortunately smoking’s appetite-suppressing powers are now gone and you’re feeling hungrier than normal. Couple that with your taste buds no longer being dulled by the nicotine. Everything tastes better + increased hunger = more calories in that before = weight gain.
- Prescription medications – A number of prescription medications – blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety, bipolar – have the unfortunate side effect of weight gain. Some do so by slowing your metabolism, while others do so because they increase your appetite. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist about these side effects and if there are any other prescription options that don’t have these side effects.
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