Why are you suddenly gaining weight, according to doctors and dietitians

    Abdulaziz Sobh

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    It is understandable when you gain a few pounds after a vacation or if you break your ankle and spend six weeks leaning on the couch obsessing with dark British cooking shows (and chocolate buns to accompany them).

    But when you can't close your jeans for no reason, you swear you're not eating or exercising less, you may feel that there is some dark magic at play. You may find yourself standing on the bathroom scale, screaming in a vacuum:

    "Why am I gaining weight?"
    Deep breathing. You got it.

    Most likely, there is something in your life that has changed enough to make a difference, but not enough to notice, says Alexandra Sowa, MD, an obesity specialist and clinical medical instructor at the University's School of Medicine from New York. "I see this all the time: you may not get on the scale for a while and feel that you have not changed anything, and suddenly you go to the doctor's office and you have gained 10 or 20 pounds," she says.

    But that doesn't mean it's your destination to upload another size every year. These are some of the most likely reasons for unexplained weight gain and how to stop it dry.

    Your insulin levels may be out of control.
    If you have been fighting weight problems for a while and none of your efforts is to move the needle, make an appointment with your doctor or a weight control MD, who can assess your insulin resistance or prediabetes. (Your doctor may also do a hypothyroid test, in which your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormone, which slows down your metabolism and can lead to a small but noticeable weight gain.)

    "Insulin is the hormone that tells the body to extract glucose from the bloodstream and store it in the muscles, liver and fat," explains Tirissa Reid, MD, endocrinologist and specialist in obesity medicine at the Medical Center of Columbia University "But when you're overweight, the cells don't recognize insulin too, so the pancreas has to pump more and more, sometimes two or three times the normal amount, until the cells respond." (This is also common in women who have polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition in which the ovule follicles in the ovaries group together to form cysts.)

    These high levels of insulin keep the body in storage mode and hinder weight loss, says Dr. Reid. The beginning of this path is insulin resistance when the pancreas is working overtime, but blood sugar levels remain normal. All that extra work wears out the pancreas until it can barely do the job of keeping blood sugar in the normal range. If left unchecked, insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes, in which blood sugar levels are slightly elevated; If that is not treated, you can develop full-blown type 2 diabetes.

    This is what you should do: the most effective way to reverse this trend is to eat a diet low in refined carbohydrates and added sugars, and become more physically active since muscles respond better to insulin when used, says Dr. Reid.

    Recommend investing in an exercise tracker or simply use the one that comes with your phone. "People hear that you need 10,000 steps every day, which sounds intimidating, but you can also use it just to see where you are and make feasible increases," says Dr. Reid. "If it's in 2,000 steps, try to climb to 2,500 a day next week." Switch to foods with a lower glycemic index (GI), which means that they are digested more slowly, keeping blood sugar levels constant. It is also important to control your insulin levels. Dr. Sowa recommends these food exchanges with lower GI: cauliflower with rice instead of white rice; Zucchini spirals or shirataki noodles (made from vegetable fiber) instead of pasta; and whole wheat-rye bread or ground stone instead of white bread or bagels.

    Stress and exhaustion are discouraging you.
    If you wake up at night worrying about your aging parents, your hormonal teenagers and the generally poor state of the world, this can affect your metabolism. "Stress and lack of sleep can cause a cascade of hormonal changes that change your metabolism and affect your feeling of hunger and satiety," explains Dr. Sowa.

    Stress pumps the hormones ghrelin and cortisol, which increase appetite and can cause cravings for carbohydrates; At the same time, it reduces the hormone leptin, which helps you feel full. Not surprisingly, a recent Swedish study of 3,800 women over the age of 20 found that the more stressed you are at work, the more weight you gain. Stress also affects your ability to sleep well at night, and we know that lack of sleep can also affect your metabolism rates and hunger signals.

    This is what you should do: it's easy: just fix the world and make everyone around you more friendly and saner.

    Hm, maybe not. But you can control your stress by downloading a free application like Pacifica, which can help you work towards personal goals such as positive thinking and lessening anxiety by sending you meditations and visualizations to do throughout the day. To sleep more deeply, you already know that you should leave your phone, computer, and iPad an hour before bedtime, but new research shows that turning off all the light, including that sliver of moonlight through your window, can help you both with sleep As with the metabolism. A study conducted last year at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University found that after subjects spent only one night sleeping in a room with more light, insulin levels were significantly higher than those sleeping in the complete darkness, which could affect metabolism rates. Therefore, consider investing in some good blackout curtains.

    Your allergy pills are to blame.
    "We are not 100% sure why, but it is believed that histamines, chemicals produced by your immune system, have a role in appetite control," says Dr. Reid. That means "antihistamines can make you eat more," she says. A large study by Yale University confirmed that there is a correlation between regular use of antihistamines and obesity. Dr. Reid points out that some antihistamines such as Benadryl also cause drowsiness, so if you take them regularly, you may be tempted to crash on the couch instead of running, which causes more weight gain.

    This is what you can do: if you suffer from seasonal allergies and are constantly taking antihistamines, talk to your allergist about alternative treatments such as steroid nasal sprays, nasal antihistamines (which have less absorption in the bloodstream and, therefore, less effect on hunger), leukotriene inhibitors such as Singulair, or allergy shots, suggests Jeffrey Demain, MD, founder of the Alaska Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center. He also says that managing his environment (using a HEPA filter, washing sheets frequently in hot water and keeping pets out of his room) can help reduce the need for allergy medications. While doing so, take an inventory of the prescription medications you are taking that are known to cause weight gain (including certain antidepressants, beta-blockers, corticosteroids, and the contraceptive vaccine) and discuss with your doctor if there are effective alternatives that do not cause weight gain. says Dr. Reid.

    Your portions are probably larger than you think.
    Anyone who has been sitting in a vinyl booth looking at a bowl of pasta large enough for a small child to swim knows that the portion sizes in the United States are huge. But research
    from the University of Liverpool, published last year, discovered that after receiving large meals outside the home, people tend to serve larger portions in their own kitchen until a week later, which means that oversizing seems to be normalized, says Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., author of Finally Complete, Finally Slim.

    Even if your homemade portions have increased by only 5% in recent years, that can add up to 100 additional calories a day, which adds up to more than 11 pounds a year, says Lawrence Cheskin, MD, president of nutrition and food studies at the George Mason University. And the official measure of what a "portion" is is not helping. "The FDA's standards for the amount of" servings "in a food package are based on the amount of food that people actually eat, not the amount they should eat," Young explains. For example, to reflect the growing appetite of the American people, a portion of ice cream increased last year from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup. More realistic, perhaps, but even more calories than many of us need.

    This is what you should do: First, Young suggests that you spend a few days getting a reality check of the amount of food you are actually eating at each meal. “When you pour the cereal into the bowl in the morning, put it back in a measuring cup. What you thought was 1 cup could actually be 3 cups, especially if you are using a large bowl, "she says.

    Also, instead of relying on a government agency (or the chef of your favorite restaurant) to tell you how much to eat, learn to listen to your own body, says Young. "Serve only a modest portion on a small plate, and when you're done, wait 20 minutes," she says. The hormones in the abdomen take so long to reach the brain and say it is full. If it reaches 20 minutes and your stomach is growling, bite a little more.

    You are eating the right thing but at the wrong time.
    Let's say you changed jobs recently, and dinner is now at 9 p.m. instead of 6:30. Or your new Netflixing habit until the wee hours of the morning also means eating snacks long after midnight. Even if you are not eating more, per se, this change could explain the additional weight.

    There is a delicate dance between your circadian rhythm (the way your body and your brain respond to daily signs of light and darkness) and your calorie intake that can mean that the same sandwich or bowl of fro-yo that eats the Lunchtime can actually cause more than one weight gain when eating at night. A 2017 study at Brigham & Women Hospital found that when college students ate food closer to bedtime, and therefore closer to when the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin was released, they had higher body fat percentages. and a higher body mass index. Researchers theorize that this is because the amount of energy your body uses to digest and metabolize food drops as your internal clock tells you to prepare for sleep.

    This is what you should do: there are some life tricks to keep night snacks to a minimum. Dr. Sowa suggests that you commit to writing every bite you eat after dinner: “Whether on a sticky pad or in an application, keep track of what you are eating, how much you are eating and how you feel. when you eat, it will hold you responsible for calories and also help you discover if you are really hungry or just bored, ”she says. He also suggests completing your dinner with a tablespoon of healthy fish oil for the brain and heart. "It's a healthy fat that covers the stomach and makes you feel less hungry later," she says.

    Your "healthy" food is full of calories.
    You could be eating the cleanest, most organic and approved variety by dietitians of plant-based or ethically grown foods, but that does not mean that calories evaporate into pixie powder when they enter the mouth.

    And, in fact, research has shown that when you eat something healthy (avocados, salad, yogurt, whole grains), the part of your brain that pays attention to fullness tends to go out. "Even when you are eating healthy foods, you should really pay attention to your hunger and satiety signals," says Véronique Provencher, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada. “In several studies, we have found that when we perceive that a food is healthy, it creates a bias in our judgment, and we believe that we can eat more, there is no problem. We believe that a salad is healthy, so we feel we can eat everything we want with as many toppings or toppings as we want. ”

    So what can you do? First, treat food like going to the movies, turn off the phone and turn off the computer or the TV screen. "We have discovered that when you are eating and working on your computer or watching television or on a screen, you are disconnected from hunger and satiety," says Provencher. Another thing that can help, say, other experts, is to be more aware of the portion sizes and what is in your meal. Try the Weight Watchers app, which helps you solve questions like which “healthy” yogurts are full of sugar and calories, and how much avocado you should spread on your toast.

    Your age can be a factor.
    Every birthday you celebrate brings an undeniable change: your resting basal metabolism (the rate at which your resting body burns the energy you eat from food) slows down. "It's not a dramatic fall," says Dr. Cheskin. "But as you get older, you are also probably becoming less active and more tired, and your body tends to lose muscle mass, which burns calories more efficiently than fat." So, even if you are eating exactly the same amount of food you did when you were younger, your body is simply not burning as effectively as it did during the glory days of your 20 years.

    This is what you should do: you can only move your BMR a little, but there are some things you can do to make the math work in your favor. The first is to develop the muscle that burns calories, says fitness expert Michele Olson, Ph.D., a professor of sports science and physical education at Huntingdon College. "Keep the cardio three times a week for 30 minutes, but add challenging weight training on top of that," she says.

    Olson recommends these exercises that can be done at home. Start with what you can do and accumulate up to 2 sets of 12 of each, every two days.

    Chair squats: sit on the edge of a chair with your arms crossed; Get up and sit for a repeat.
    Tricep dips: sit on the edge of a chair, leaning with your arms, slide, walking a few steps in front of you; with your knees bent and your body under the seat, bend your elbows; press up until the arms are straight. (Use a chair without wheels!)
    Push-ups, from the knees, or full push-ups, if you can.
    Another strategy to increase metabolism: Replace some of the carbohydrates in your diet with proteins, which require more energy to digest, therefore, burn more calories through diet-induced thermogenesis, in addition to making you feel full by more time. Dr. Sowa suggests that you eat about 100 grams of protein during the day, filling your plate with lean chicken, fish, shrimp or plant-based proteins such as chickpeas, tempeh, and edamame, to give your meals more metabolism. More for your money. This can only add a weight loss of a few pounds a year, but combined with exercise, the cumulative effect can be significant, says Dr. Sowa.

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