The reasons for gaining weight and not even realizing it can range from stress to lifestyle changes and of course, your diet. Men and women don’t intend to gain weight most of the time, but as time goes by, they find it happens without really realizing it. Then, one day, you look in the mirror and wonder what happened. Most of us know how to make smart dietary choices to lose weight, but we often forget about overlooked reasons for gaining weight. Many of them I’ve done myself, as I’m sure you have, and every single time, I can look back and easily see where I made dietary and lifestyle mistakes that led to the weight gain. Consider some of these reasons for gaining weight, and you can be on the lookout from now on, instead of looking back with regret.
1. Sugar and Fat Combined
There’s nothing better sometimes than eating a banana and some nut butter or a few dates rolled in coconut butter, but one of the most overlooked reasons for gaining weight is combining fats and sugars together. Sugar and fat combined cause an increase of insulin in the body, which causes weight gain quickly. It basically opens the flood gates for your body to store fat unless you’re fixing to run a race, or are an athlete who needs more fuel than others. Even natural starches that convert to sugar in the body, such as white potatoes and wheat bread, shouldn’t be eaten with high fat foods unless you’re looking to put on a few pounds. The body puts all its energy into digesting carbs first, which it will always do naturally, and the fat gets stored as well, fat, because fat digests more slowly than any other food. Eat fats with vegetables, or with high protein foods, along with low sugar fruits like cucumbers, tomatoes, and squash, but never with high carbohydrate foods unless you’re looking to gain weight.
2. Eating Dinner Too Late
It’s not bad to have a nighttime snack if you’re truly hungry, but waiting too late to eat dinner is bad for weight loss for a few reasons. For one, your body isn’t able to digest your food properly during sleep, so optimal nutrient absorption doesn’t occur, nor does the burning of those calories since you’re less active. Plus, eating dinner too late often means you’re tired and making poor food choices. Have dinner at least 3 hours before you go to bed and eat a preferably light meal with a large amount of vegetables, lean protein, and a little healthy fat. Minimize carbs at dinner, unless you’re not consuming a dense source of fat.
3. Sugary Beverages
That vanilla almond milk that’s so good, and even that raw pressed juice that sounds healthy at the store, may all be reasons you’re gaining weight. Or that healthy fruit smoothie you have each morning, and even homemade juices can all be reasons you gain weight. Anytime you drink sugar, it sends a huge rush of insulin into your cells, which causes excess fat storage. Avoid buying sweetened beverages, non-dairy or not. To your body, sugar is sugar is sugar. Period. Choose unsweetened varieties, and if you’re going to have juices, make sure they are all from vegetables, not fruits. And about those smoothies, be sure you fill up your blender with ¾ leafy greens or veggies and just a small amount of fruit from berries if you need it. For an even more weight loss friendly option, use stevia instead of fruit, or choose fruits like acai that are naturally sugar-free. I like to add raw cacao powder instead of fruit anyway, and it makes for a more satisfying smoothie that also combats sugar cravings!
4. Overdoing Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are a beautiful thing. I truly can’t imagine life without them, but too much of them is bound to cause problems quickly. For one, healthy fats are only needed in certain amounts. We don’t need copious amounts to get their benefits, we simply need to eat them moderately, in small amounts, and very sparingly. Eating too many sources of fat can also lead to lethargy from slow digestion, stomach pains, and even constipation. Healthy fats, like most foods, are best when eaten in moderate, not obsessive amounts. About 1-2 tablespoons per meal is all you need. Same goes for snacks as well.
5. Eating Too Little
Eating too little is easy to do when you’re stressed out. I personally don’t even have an appetite when I’m stressed out, and this is usually when I gain the most weight, surprisingly. Your metabolism can only take so much stress with too little fuel. Then, it starts to catch up with you quickly. When you don’t fuel your metabolism, not only can it not give you energy, but it also can’t burn calories from any food you do eat. Then a vicious cycle takes place that leads to a low metabolism and excess fat storage. Be sure to fuel your metabolism by eating well, eating smart, and eating enough.
6. You’re Always Trying a New Diet
Always trying a new diet but still can’t lose weight? You can blame it on your diet hopping habit, hun! Always trying a new diet confuses your body. It is never sure what you’re going to give it, and can’t properly function since it’s in preservation, or survival mode. Constantly trying new diets never allows your body to function how it wants to, and this will lead to weight gain quickly. It’s better to just eat clean foods free of added sugars, unhealthy fats, and additives or preservatives. Over time, your body will show you what it likes and what it doesn’t, and you’ll find your happy weight much quicker than switching from one diet to the next week to week.
7. Too Much Fruit
Fruit is such a beautiful food, and in fact, one of my favorites, but I avoid it most of the time for several reasons. For one, it makes me hungrier than eating vegetables, leafy greens, plant proteins, healthy starches, and healthy fats do. In fact, fruit makes me crave sugar and fat all the time. It also doesn’t keep me full, but bloats me up, along with gives me acne. Fruit is a glorious food, but to our bodies, it’s still just plain sugar, and we only need so much sugar, in certain amounts. Plus, the type of sugar found in most fruits in abundance is fructose. Did you know your liver can only deal with so much fructose at a time? The rest gets sent to your pancreas, where insulin has to do something with it, and it ends up causing excess fat storage. Not good when you’re trying to lose weight, right? So, just moderate your fruit, don’t eliminate it. Here’s another good tip: choose low fructose fruits instead of high fructose fruits. The best choices are: bananas, pumpkin, raspberries, oranges, strawberries, papaya, and figs. These are lower in fructose and higher in glucose, which your body will use for immediate energy, not excess fat storage.
8. Not Enough Sleep
One of the most overlooked reasons people gain weight is they do not get enough sleep. Your fat burning hormones are at optimal levels between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., but unless you’re asleep, you don’t get the benefits. These same hormones also contribute to your appetite, and without enough sleep, low hormone production can make you hungrier the next day, even if you're not. Eating after 10 p.m. sure isn’t the best ways to take advantage of those fat burning hormones, so try your absolute best to turn in early and get a good night’s sleep. You’ll lose more weight from this one dietary change alone than you will from skipping meals or going on another fad diet.
9. Stress Eating
Eating while you’re stressed should also be avoided, since when your stress hormone cortisol increases, so does fat storage. Do your best to eat in a calm environment, or wait until you can get to a quiet place and let your body digest its food properly. You can only benefit from what you digest, and during stress, all the blood reverts from your digestive system to deal with excess cortisol in the body. So, eat when you're not stressed so all your digestive energy can be right where it needs to be, helping you digest your food properly to be used as fuel to burn calories and give you energy.
Avoiding all these overlooked reasons you might be gaining weight can improve your weight and your eating habits in a very quick amount of time if you put them into practice. Have you ever discovered an overlooked reason for gaining weight?