What is weight gain and why does it matter?
Weight gain is when your weight increases due to changes in your body composition, such as increased fat, muscle, or fluids. It can be intentional or unintentional, depending on your goals and circumstances.
According to Verywell Health, weight gain can have various effects on your health, depending on the amount, rate, and distribution of the weight. Some of the possible consequences are:
- Increased risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers, especially if the weight gain is mostly in the abdominal area.
- Reduced mobility, joint pain, and osteoarthritis, especially if the weight gain is excessive and puts stress on the bones and muscles.
- Hormonal imbalances, menstrual irregularities, infertility, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), especially for women who gain weight rapidly or have excess body fat.
- leep apnea, asthma, and respiratory infections, especially if the weight gain affects the airways and breathing.
- sychological distress, low self-esteem, depression, and eating disorders, especially if the weight gain is unwanted or stigmatized by society.
There are many possible causes of weight gain, including genetics, life cycle, lifestyle factors, environmental factors, medical conditions, or medications.
Genetics: While genetics do not directly cause weight gain, research suggests that some genetic factors may interact with the environment and influence your behaviors and metabolism, which can lead to weight gain.
Life cycle: Our bodies change throughout our lives. Some examples are:
- Aging: As we get older, our metabolism slows down. After 30, our lean body mass decreases due to the loss of muscle and bone density, and body fat increases.
- Menopause: Weight gain is typical for women in midlife. Menopause causes hormonal changes that may cause an increase in weight.
- Pregnancy: Weight gain during pregnancy is necessary for the baby’s development. The recommended weight gain varies depending on the mother’s pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI).
- Puberty: Children gain an average of 6.5 pounds yearly from ages five through 12. As they enter puberty, they experience growth spurts. One and two years after puberty begins, girls and boys will experience peak growth rates in height, weight, and muscle mass.
Lifestyle factors: Certain habits and lifestyle choices can impact weight. Some examples are:
- Chronic dieting and weight cycling: While dieting can result in short-term weight loss, research shows that it is associated with long-term weight gain. This pattern of dieting, weight loss, and weight regain is known as weight cycling and is related to adverse physical and mental health outcomes.
- Sleep: Studies have found that sleep deprivation, the lack of sufficient sleep, is associated with weight gain due to the impact of sleep on appetite and energy regulation.
- Stress: Chronic stress can trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone that increases appetite and promotes fat storage in the abdominal area.
- Physical activity: A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain by reducing calorie expenditure and muscle mass. On the other hand, regular physical activity can help prevent or reverse weight gain by increasing calorie expenditure and muscle mass.
Environmental factors: The surroundings and situations that we live in can also affect our weight. Some examples are:
- Food environment: The availability, accessibility, affordability, and marketing of food can influence our food choices and intake. For example,
- Living in a food desert or a food swamp can limit access to healthy food options and increase exposure to unhealthy food options.
- Eating out frequently or consuming large portions can increase calorie intake and reduce control over food quality.
- Being exposed to food advertisements or cues can stimulate appetite and cravings for certain foods.
- Social environment: The people that we interact with can also influence our weight. For example,
- Having family or friends who are overweight or obese can increase the likelihood of being overweight or obese oneself due to shared genes or behaviors.
- Facing social pressure or stigma for being overweight or underweight can affect self-esteem and coping strategies.
- Participating in social events or celebrations that involve food can increase calorie intake and reduce dietary adherence.
Medical conditions: Some health problems can cause weight gain by affecting metabolism,
hormones, or appetite.
Some examples are:
- ypothyroidism: A condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism.
- ushing’s syndrome: A condition where the body produces too much cortisol, which promotes fat storage in the abdominal area.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): A condition where women have excess male hormones, which cause irregular periods,
insulin resistance, and weight gain.
- Depression: A mood disorder that causes persistent sadness, loss of interest, and changes in appetite.
- Medications: Some drugs can cause weight gain by affecting metabolism, hormones, or appetite.
Some examples are:
- Antidepressants: Drugs that treat depression by altering brain chemicals that regulate mood, such as serotonin, orepinephrine, and dopamine.
- Antipsychotics: Drugs that treat psychotic disorders by blocking brain receptors for dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in motivation, reward, and movement.
- Steroids: Drugs that reduce inflammation by mimicking cortisol, a hormone that promotes fat storage in the abdominal area.
Weight gain can be intentional or unintentional, depending on your goals and circumstances. If you want to gain weight for health or aesthetic reasons, you should do it in a safe and healthy way by
Following these tips:
• Eat more calories than you burn: To gain one pound per week, you need to eat about 500 extra calories per day. You can use a calorie calculator to estimate your daily calorie needs based on your age, height, weight, and activity level.
• Eat nutrient-dense foods: Choose foods that provide high amounts of calories, nutrients, and fluids per serving. Some examples are nuts, dried fruits, avocadoes, full-fat dairy products, meat, eggs, and smoothies.
• Eat frequently: Have at least three meals and two snacks per day to ensure adequate calorie intake throughout the day. You can also add extra calories by drinking milk or juice with your meals or having a high-calorie snack before bed.
• Do strength training: Lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises can help you build muscle mass and strength while preventing fat accumulation. Aim for at least two sessions per week that target all major muscle groups. You can also use protein supplements or creatine to enhance your muscle growth.
• Get enough rest: Sleeping for at least seven hours per night can help you recover from your workouts and support your hormone production. You should also avoid overtraining or doing too much cardio exercise that can burn calories and break down muscle tissue.
Weight gain is when your weight increases due to changes in your body composition, such as increased fat, muscle, or fluids. It can have various effects on your health, depending on the amount, rate, and distribution of the weight. There are many possible causes of weight gain, including genetics, life cycle, lifestyle factors, environmental factors, medical conditions,
or medications. Weight gain can be intentional or unintentional, depending on your goals and circumstances. If you want to gain weight for health or aesthetic reasons, you should do it in a safe and healthy way by following some simple tips.