Unintentional weight gain is something experienced by thousands of people each year.
Basically, it’s when you gain weight even though you didn’t increase your calories or decrease your activity level.
Your eating habits and exercise routine has stayed the same, so why are you gaining weight?
This Is What Causes Unintentional Weight Gain
There are many causes of unintentional weight gain. A few of them include fluid retention, abnormal growth, constipation, medical reasons, and pregnancy. Everyone has a different experience with unintentional weight gain, and it can be periodic, continuous, or rapid. Periodic is when the weight gain happens regularly on some sort of schedule, such as when a woman is on her menstrual cycle each month. Rapid unintentional weight gain is caused by something else, such as a side effect of taking a new medication.
What Happens With Unintentional Weight Gain?
When you experience unintentional weight gain, you might feel bloated, or have a discomfort in your stomach.
Occasionally you can feel pain as well. Swelling can occur in parts of your body such as your arms, hands, stomach, feet, and legs depending on how severe it is.
There are a few other symptoms of unintentional weight gain, and if any of these occur, it’s important to see your doctor immediately.
These symptoms include sensitive skin, trouble breathing, heart palpitations, fever or high body temperature, shortness of breath, swollen feet, increased perspiration, rapid weight gain, and/or changes in vision such as dizziness.
Any of these symptoms could mean that there is something more serious wrong. Your doctor will properly be able to diagnose you by doing blood tests, hormone tests, and checking your kidney functions. They might also do ultrasounds, x-rays, or other imaging scans to figure out the problem.
Here are some popular causes of unintentional weight gain.
Menopause is a popular cause for unintentional weight gain that so many women experience. Between the ages of 45-55, women experience menopause.
Their hormones change, especially their estrogen, which decreases. This drop in estrogen can lead to weight gain because estrogen helps to control your body weight.
Menopause has been known to cause weight gain in the stomach and/or hips. It can change your metabolism, making it work a bit slower than normal.
This could lead to unintentional weight gain since your body is no longer burning as many calories during the day as it previously was.
Changes to Hormone Balance
Any slight or significant changes in your hormone balance could have an effect on your weight. There are many different hormones in our bodies.
Cortisol is one of them, and this is a stress related hormone. The more stressed out you are, the more cortisol your body produces.
Cortisol has been correlated with weight gain. When your body produces too much of the cortisol hormone, a condition called Cushing’s syndrome occurs.
A common side effect of Cushing’s syndrome is weight gain. As mentioned above, menopause is another situation where hormones change, specifically with the decrease of estrogen.
People with hypothyroidism also experience hormonal changes. They have an under-active thyroid, and their thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain important hormones.
Hypothyroidism also causes a low basal metabolic rate, which leads to weight gain.
Another hormonal imbalance that leads to unintentional weight gain is low testosterone. Testosterone enhances muscle mass, strength, fat burning, and so much more.
When testosterone levels are low, an increase of body fat occurs, along with a loss of muscle mass – even with the proper dieting and exercise.
Many medications have been known to cause unintentional weight gain. If you read through the side effects of medications that you take, you might be surprised to see weight gain as a potential side effect.
Some medications that can cause weight gain include antidepressants, birth control pills, antipsychotic medications, corticosteroids, chlorpromazine, Insulin, Beta-blockers, and more.
Pregnancy is by far the most common cause for unintentional weight gain. During pregnancy, women gain weight because they are growing a baby inside of them.
In addition to the weight of the baby, women also naturally eat more to support the growth of their baby.
Other factors that contribute to weight gain from pregnancy are the placenta, an increased blood supply going to the baby, amniotic fluid, and an enlarging uterus.
If a woman is an average weight before getting pregnant, she should expect to gain between 25-35 pounds after becoming pregnant.
Generally, 2 to 4 pounds are gained during the first three months of pregnancy. After that, around 1 pound a week is gained during the rest of the pregnancy.
Edema / Retaining Fluids
Edema can cause unintentional rapid weight gain. People with edema experience an uncomfortable swelling in their face, limbs, feet, hands, and/or abdomen.
The swelling is caused by fluid retention, which is when excess fluid is trapped inside the body’s tissues. Edema is usually linked to the venous or lymphatic systems.
Symptoms of edema normally develop gradually over time, but once any swelling is noticed, always go to your doctor.
Periodic unintentional weight gain can occur from a woman’s menstrual cycle each month. There are many things that could contribute to weight gain during menstruation.
These could include a change in hormones such as estrogen, or an increase in fluid and water retention. This type of unintentional weight gain goes in a cycle.
Women typically gain a few pounds during their menstruation cycle, then lose it once their cycle is over.
This is because the weight gained isn’t fat – it’s usually just water retention and bloating.
How to Treat Unintentional Weight Gain
The method of treatment will depend on the cause of your unintentional weight gain.
For example, if the weight gain is due to hormone imbalances, you might be prescribed hormones. If medications are causing you to gain weight, your doctor might put you on a different kind of medication that doesn’t include weight gain as a side effect.
If you are experiencing unintentional weight gain due to your body releasing cortisol, try to do activities such as meditation and yoga to de-stress. Since everyone experiences unintentional weight gain from different causes, everyone’s treatment methods will differ.