Sometimes the reasons you might have gained a few more pounds are obvious to you. Maybe you’ve been going to a few extra wing nights a month. You may have recently endured the cookie and pie marathon known as “the holidays.”
Another possibility is that you are only just managing your workload at work or at home, which tends to undermine any appearance of what one may refer to as “fitness.”
You should be aware that these slight weight fluctuations are frequent, rarely cause for concern, and possibly have nothing to do with your diet at all (like, even hydration can affect how much you weigh).
The kind that causes you to step back from the scale and pause is when weight gain spikes, though. When you can’t put your weight gain on chicken wings, holiday cookies, or work stress, it can be particularly frustrating and perplexing.
How much weight gain over a short period of time is cause for concern?
It’s important to pay attention if you gain five pounds or more in a matter of weeks, or even days. According to Lawrence Cheskin, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, “for a guy, five pounds is kind of—ding-ding—going something’s on here.”
According to Cheskin, while weight fluctuations of five pounds or more are not uncommon among men, they are among women more frequently. especially if your weight has remained constant for several months or even years.
What might be behind this sudden weight gain?
Seven typical sources are listed below, along with actionable suggestions.
1. Too Much Salt Is in Your Diet
Cheskin claims that your body retains water when you consume sodium. Weight and volume exist in water. Therefore, he says, you might suddenly gain weight if you consume a lot of salty food for several days in a row.
Food from restaurants, particularly fast food, has a tendency to be high in sodium. Therefore, your sudden gain in weight may be explained if you’ve recently spent your days eating takeout and meals from restaurants.
However, you should be aware that many of the foods you eat at home are high in sodium. Some of the main sources of sodium in the American diet are bread, sandwiches, cold cuts, and cured meats.
2. You’re Not Eating Enough Potassium
While cutting back on sodium is important, it’s not the only nutrient to consider when it comes to water weight.
Potassium acts as a counterweight to sodium. Potassium supports the functioning of your muscles and controls blood pressure, whereas sodium aids in maintaining the fluid surrounding your cells. The two work together, and if either one is off, overall hydration suffers.
Although there is no set daily recommendation for potassium intake, experts seem to agree that 3,400 milligrams are a good daily goal for men ages 19 and older.
3. You’re Taking a New Medication
W. Scott Butsch, M.D., director of obesity medicine in the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, says that a variety of medications have been linked to weight gain.
According to him, up to 15% of obesity cases may actually be brought on by medication.
According to Butsch, beta blockers and SSRIs are two common offenders in the treatment of heart disease and depression, respectively. However, he adds that some antihistamines that block allergies, as well as prescription sleep aids and painkillers, can result in “a bump in weight.”
Cheskin says you should also include testosterone-boosting medications and supplements. These medications affect your hormones, which could undoubtedly cause a spike in weight. He continues by mentioning over-the-counter (OTC) and online supplements. A factor that contributes to weight gain need not originate from your PCP’s prescription pad.
Go back to the doctor who gave you the prescription if the weight gain is alarming to determine whether you should continue taking the medication or if any changes need to be made. And it’s probably time you told your primary care physician about any OTC or online supplements you’ve been taking if you haven’t already.
4. You’re Eating More Than You Realize
This might appear to be a given. But nobody is aware of how quickly it can occur. You might even notice a five- to ten-pound weight gain if you’ve been increasing your calorie intake steadily for a month or two, according to Cheskin.
It’s critical to understand that these changes may be minute. You might have begun hosting weekly happy hours. Or perhaps your portion sizes have increased unknowingly as a result of purchasing new cookware. “Eating just 500 calories more a week can add up over time,” he claims.
If you want to see if you start to lose weight, think about keeping a diet journal, using a calorie-counting app, or simply quitting the eating behavior you suspect is the culprit.
5. You Switched to a Higher Carbohydrate Diet
You’ll notice a change on the scale right away if you switch from an extremely low-carb diet like the ketogenic plan to one that includes more grains and starches.
As glycogen, carbohydrates are kept in your muscles and liver. About three grams of water are contained in every gram of glycogen, so a plate of pasta will cause your tissues to retain more water than usual.
Carbohydrates are crucial for general health as well as for exercise (fiber is a carbohydrate! ), as glycogen is a potent source of workout fuel.
6. You Recently Lost Weight
The ability to maintain weight loss would be really, really nice. However, this is frequently not the case.
According to Butsch, “our system will act to maintain balance because our body weight and body fat are tightly regulated.” Simply put, even if you continue your weight-loss routines, any pounds you manage to lose are likely to return.
In other words, regardless of how much you eat or exercise, if you recently lost some weight, it’s very likely that you’ll gain some of it back.
7. You Are Sick With an Endocrine Disorder
According to the National Institutes of Health, about one in five adults has hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid. Even though hypothyroidism is much more common in women, according to Cheskin, it can also cause abrupt and significant weight gain in men.
Although less common, some other hormone disorders, such as Cushing’s disease, can also lead to weight gain, according to Butsch. According to him, weight gain is probably not the only symptom of any of these endocrine disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic, these hormone disorders can cause fatigue, weakness, headaches, trouble thinking, depression, or irritability.