Everyone wants to look their best to get that sense of self confidence only comes from being happy with your body. There is nothing more discouraging than to look in the mirror to see that all your efforts of dieting and exercising are in vain. For me, it was the case for most my life until my college days. However, luckily there was an identifiable cause. Too many chicken tender sandwiches and quarter gallons of chocolate milk while not doing any exercise but putting food into my mouth.
Not everyone’s body is the same.
Are you are rapidly gaining and weight and diet and exercise are not working? This can be a very frustrating problem especially if you have been struggling for months or even years. It may be that there is an underlying condition that is causing the weight gain that you are unaware of.
If you are rapidly gaining weight, here are some reasons you may not have thought of that can cause rapid weight gain.
It’s Water and Not Fat
Water weight and fat are not the same. To lose a pound of fat requires burning 3,500 calories. There are 0 calories in water, however from a variety of reasons our bodies can hold on to excess water.
How can you tell if your weight gain is from water or fat?
Usually if your face has gotten puffier, that is a sign of water retention.
A test that physicians use to determine swelling from excess water is simply taking your finger and pressing down on your ankles, arms or any part of your body that is swollen. When you press down, if there is an indentation that means you have excess water and not excess fat.
Usually if you have excess water you may have other symptoms like shortness of breath, sudden abdominal distension, and fatigue.
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, please see your doctor.
It could be a sign of something more serious like heart failure, liver disease, or kidney failure.
Women’s bodies undergo monthly surges of hormones during menstruation. Rises and falls in hormones like estrogen and progesterone can cause swelling/weight gain along with other symptoms like headaches, mood changes, and nausea. This same effect can also happen with birth control pills.
Another hormonal condition is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In this condition women can have weight gain but also acne, increased facial hair, irregular periods, increased blood sugars, depression, and possibly infertility. This is due to multiple cysts on the ovaries that secrete excess androgen (male sex hormones). The cause is still unknown but most experts believe genetics and environment play a role.
This condition can go undiagnosed in young women because these symptoms are not as acute as say abdominal pain, so women do not seek medical help. 1 in 10 women have PCOS and half are undiagnosed.
The treatment for this would be metformin for the increased blood sugars and lifestyle changes for the weight gain along androgen blockers to stop the excess androgens.
If you are a young women suffering from any of the symptoms above with no explainable cause, please go see and have a discussion with your health provider.
Medication Side Effects
Here are some medications that have weight gain as known side effect:
1. Anti-Depressants- The selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) like fluoxetine and paroxetine are notorious for weight gain if they are taken long term.
Other anti-depressants like mirtazapine and bupropion can also do the same. If you are noticing these symptoms DO NOT stop taking your medication. It can adversely affect the levels of the drug needed to maintain your mood. Instead see your prescribing doctor to talk about the side effects and come up with a reasonable solution.
2. Steroids- These are the treatments for many autoimmune conditions where the immune system is over-active and attacking the body. While steroids can be very effective, if they are taken for months (for conditions like lupus, multiple sclerosis, or Chron’s disease) it can cause weight gain especially around the abdomen, face, neck and back.
If this is a problem, talk with your doctor about either decreasing the dose or not taking them if you are not having active flare ups of your disease. Again, DO NOT stop taking the medication on you own as your disease could get worse.
Poor Daily Habits
There are two daily habits that can help you improve with weight loss:
- Getting More Sleep- Sleep is what our body uses to reset our hormone levels. Without adequate sleep, out body’s levels of leptin (an appetite suppressant hormone) remains low. Also chances are that if you are staying up late, you will be doing a lot of midnight snacking on foods that are high in calories, fat, sugar or all the above.
- Reducing Stress- Stress eating is a real thing, eating gives people comfort. Also when we are stressed we are not in our right mind, thus will make food choices that are not the best for us.
- Cushing Syndrome- This is a disease where one’s adrenal glands begins to secrete excess steroids. The usual hormone is cortisol which is a stress hormone our body secretes when we are sleeping, fasting, or have very low blood sugar. Excess cortisol can cause fat around the neck and shoulders, muscle wasting, and obesity. It can be caused by genetics, diseases, or taking excess steroid medications for treatments of asthma or COPD.
- Hypothyroidism- This affects women 10 times more than men. This is where the thyroid secretes less hormone causing not only weight gain, but fatigue, constipation, depression, hair thinning, and cold intolerance. The good thing is that this can be treated immediately with thyroid replacement hormone.
If you suspect either of these as the cause or if you have a history of autoimmune diseases please see you doctor!
The only way to stop aging is to die young unfortunately. Everyone’s body will eventually slow down, with that so does our metabolism, ability to fight to disease, and libido. As we age our caloric demands go down because we do not have as much muscle mass as when we were 25.
It becomes increasingly important to keep track of the calories one is consuming because they can add up quickly.
Eating an excess of 500 calories (2 cookies) a day can lead to a gain in one pound per week! No wonder more than most of adults in America are obese. For anyone over the age of 50, please watch your calories and keep active to maintain muscle mass to prevent a rapid weight gain.
6 Habits That’ll Quickly Make You Fat & Cause Weight Gain
If you have been steady with your diet and exercise routine for weeks to months and have seen no results, there may be a problem. If you are noticing a sudden onset weight gain, please consult your doctor before anything to discuss this issue with them. It may not be your fault but due to a medication side effect or a condition.
Most importantly do not get discouraged, losing weight is not a quick thing. It is a collection of a thousand steps that add up to get the final results. Trust me, I know from personal experience how difficult it can be but I also know how rewarding the end goal is!
Keep up the great work and let me know if any of my tips have helped!
Dr. CHRISTIAN-JEVON BRAMWELL MD
Christian Bramwell, MD uses his own weight loss story as teaching for people struggling with their own weight through blogging, teaching, and writing. His mission in life is to promote health and education, that is why he has chosen to be a family physician and found his own nonprofit Project RAK based on education and empowerment.
NPI (Doctor proof number) - 1336632918 NPI Number: