weight gain Herbalife Nutrition Independent Herbalife Member, Bath UK Healthy Meals

Weight management is a science. Beautiful science, that is. If you invest time in understanding it – managing your weight and your health becomes a game where you stand a chance winning it each time, for life.

Then, there are situations where you just might scratch your head, situations where it is not that simple and by the book, where you find yourself with an unexplained weight gain.

If you lack the knowledge of the basics, you will probably not find yourself in this article in case reasons for your weight gain are simply down to the lack of balance and frequency in your nutrition and diet.

If you eat more calories than what your body needs to function (more energy than you are burning), if your diet is out of balance (too many carbohydrates and too little proten) or if you suddenly cut back on exercise and continue eating the same amount as you did with exercise – of course you may gain weight! If your diet is not balanced, your body composition can be changing as well as you may be experiencing weight gain.

So, diet indeed is a major culprit.

However, if you’re doing everything the same as you normally  do and your weight still goes up – then you may need to dig a little deeper why that is…

  1. Lack of sleep

There are two issues at work with sleep and weight gain:

If you’re up late, the odds are greater that you’ll eat some late night snacks and  that, of course, will increase your calorie intake, usually coming from simple carbohydrates.

The other reason involves what’s going on bio-chemically when you’re sleep deprived, the way it messes up our hormones. Cortisol is a stress hormone and also a fat storing hormone and when we lack sleep – cortisol and fat burning hormones get out of balance, your appetite is effected, making you hungrier the next morning. These same hormones also make you feel less full even after eating a balanced meal.

2. Stress

When life’s demands get too intense, it causes us to stress and also go out of balance and our bodies go into survival mode: Same stress hormone, Cortisol, is secreted, which causes an increase in appetite. We may also reach for high-calorie comfort foods in times of stress. This obviously is a killer combination for gaining weight!

3. Drugs

Many prescription drugs have been associated with weight gain and the list includes antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, as well as medicines to treat migraines, seizures, high blood pressure, diabetes, anti-inflammatory steroid medications.

Of course, if you are taking any of those and have any concerns about the side effects of a medication, talk to your GP.

I am personally not a fan of any drugs, but they are very necessary in many cases. The sad thing is that many are issued after developing conditions that could have been avoided by balanced and clean diet and nutrition.

4. Underactive Thyroid

If your thyroid (the butterfly shaped gland in the front of your neck) is not making enough thyroid hormone, you’re probably feeling tired, weak, cold and gaining weight. Without enough thyroid hormone, the metabolism slows, making weight gain more likely. Even a thyroid functioning at the lower end of the normal range might cause weight gain.

Treating it with medication may reverse some of the weight gain. If you have any concerns, please talk to your GP.

Nutrition also plays a major part in eliminating all the foods that suppress our metabolism like foods that are derivates of sugar and white flour in particular. Eliminating simple carbohydrates from our diet and limiting complex carbs coming from grains and enjoying lean and plant protein and plant sources of complex carbohydrates, like vegetables helps naturally to boost metabolism, rather than work against it and the same is true especially when your thyroid is not working properly. Do not believe that weight gain is inevitable if you have a underractive thyroid. If you sort your nutrition and diet and ensure doctor puts you on the right medication, you can start effectively to manage your weight.

5. Menopause

Many blame menopause and the loss of oestrogen for your midlife weight gain. These all may occur around the same time, during your 40s or 50s, but changing hormone levels probably aren’t the cause. Ageing slows the metabolism, so you burn fewer calories. Also, any changes in lifestyle, like exercising less, also plays a role.

It is interesting to note that Japanese women, known for their healthy diet of vegetables, less animal protein and, in particular soya based diet, with produce such tofu – rarely suffer from menopause. It is said that only 7% of Japanese women experience hot flashes as opposed to over 50% of Western women. Actually, there is no Japanese word for “hot flash”.

6. Stopping Smoking

On average, people who stop smoking gain about 2 to 4.5 kg, which is around 4 to 10 pounds in weight.


First, nicotine curbs your appetite so that once you stop you may feel increased hunger pangs, which leads to overeating. Nicotine also increases your metabolism, but many people don’t decrease their calorie intake to compensate for the slowdown after they quit smoking. Lastly, nicotine is notorious for dulling the taste buds, so you may find food tastes better once you kick the habit, which can lead to overindulgence.

7. Alcohol consumption

Alcohol is another thing that releases cortisol because it is perceived as stress on the body. Elevated cortisol disturbs our sleep, then we go into our day tired, which further elevates stress which further raises cortisol. It is a vicious circle as the disturbed sleep itself makes us more prone to stress, which, you’ve guessed it – raises cortisol again, which suppresses immune function, elevates blood sugar levels, decreases sex drive and decreases insulin sensitivity. And once sleep gets out of balance, it can put our body in serious trouble.

Alcohol also dehydrates, which makes you retain water and it also washes away important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc essential to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, muscle contraction and relaxation. You may have woken up feeling lean after a night of alcohol consumption, but you would also be dehydrated for sure. Chances are you are retaining water and, after rehydrating, you will find yourself bloating at a fast rate, which is a sign of water retention and this can add several pounds of excess weight.

Not to mention that alcohol is sugar, therefore it will impact your insulin too.

Here are some related articles:

More about alcohol and it effects on weight management.

More about hormones that effect weight management

More about how to boost your metabolism.

8. Constipation and other digestive issues

If you are constipated, it can cause bloat and chronic inflammation, which, once again, could lead to weight gain as body is unable to efficiently process food that we eat. In general, most digestion issues such as ulcerative colitis, Chron’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, acid teflux, ulcers can cause weight gain. Changing your diet is essential. Diet rich is vegetables and fruit and whole grains with optimum hydration is the one that usually elevates symptoms of constipation and, in general, digestive issues, although a lot more can be at play and the best is to speak to a specialist who can adjust your diet on top of medication you were given to take.

I hope this was interesting and of a value to you.

If it was, please share, it might be to others too.

Please feel free to check how balanced your diet is by taking an online free wellness test.

I believe that health is our greatest wealth, health is happiness, so wishing you to be healthy and happy, always!


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