So You’re Gaining Weight
Are you gaining weight despite your best efforts to eat a healthy diet, count calories and stay physically active?
If you answered “Yes” to this question, you are not alone. Millions of women struggle to maintain a healthy weight, despite their best efforts to eat right and be active.
So, don’t be discouraged. Gaining weight is a complicated process that involves more than counting calories and spending endless hours on the treadmill. Weight gain can be influenced by a variety of factors, including gender, age, diet, exercise, hormones, stress levels, amount of sleep, medication, various medical conditions and genetics.
The following article will cover five of the reasons why gaining weight is so easy for some women.
Not Reading Nutrition Labels Properly
The most important step in managing your weight is learning to read nutrition labels.
Nutrition labels are designed to provide us with a wealth of information regarding the product we are purchasing. However, our ability to decode this information depends on our understanding of the deceptive food marketing practices of multi-million dollar food manufacturing companies.
For example, I was visiting a friend of mine a few days ago when she started to complain about her recent weight gain. She could not understand why she was gaining weight, despite being on a very strict diet. So, I asked her to show me what she was eating.
She started by showing me how she prepares a grilled chicken salad. The salad that she prepared was a perfectly healthy salad made of grilled chicken, and a variety of greens, blueberries, tomatoes, mango, avocado, and a light dressing made of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.
But, right after she mixed the salad she took out a small bag of croutons and dumped it all in the salad. On the bag of croutons the slogans “low sodium” and “low calorie” were printed in bold letters. So, I took the bag and began reading the nutrition label. The “low-calorie” croutons were listed as having 30 calories per serving but what the manufacturer called “a serving” was just 5 croutons. So, after counting the croutons in this tiny bag we realized that she had just added over 600 calories to her perfectly healthy salad.
Of course, she was shocked. She had bought into the marketing claim “low-calorie” and felt that she had made a healthy choice. So, after this incident, she asked me to look into her refrigerator and find more of her hidden unhealthy choices. The first thing that I spotted was a “fat-free”, “low-calorie”, coffee creamer which listed a slew of artificial flavors, Carrageenan and high fructose corn syrup as its main ingredients.
Next came a series of “low-calorie” fruit yogurts which also listed a slew of artificial flavors, sugars, sugar alcohols, and high fructose corn syrup as their main ingredients.
Needless to say, we had a long discussion about the merits of eating clean vs. eating “low-calorie” or “fat-free” foods and portion control. I shared with her 20 Practical Ways To Eat Clean which basically can be summed up as eating more real food that does not need to be explained via a nutrition label. I also shared with her 10 Practical Portion Control Ideas that we can all implement in our diets.
*Learn More About How To Read Health Food Nutrition Labels
Is Stress Making You Fat?
Have you ever wondered why eating an entire batch of brownies, a gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream, or a whole bag of potato chips after a particularly stressful day at work feels so good? Well, the answer might just lie in your genes.
According to recent research, we are genetically wired to crave sweets and fatty foods while suffering from chronically high stress levels. In fact, scientists have gone as far as pinpointing this “comfort eating gene” which pumps out a type II Diabetes related protein in the brain called Ucn3 when triggered by chronic stress. According to Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Mice that were made to make more Ucn3 than usual began to show the first signs of Diabetes”. (source)
Chronic stress can also increase Cortisal levels as well as disrupt your body’s natural Cortisal rhythm which in turn wreaks havoc on your body by increasing your appetite, increasing your sugar cravings and slowing your metabolism so that your body stores fat more easily.
Therefore, finding ways to manage your day-to-day stress levels is one of the most effective ways of keeping your metabolism young, which will in turn stop you from gaining weight.
*Learn About The Stress Busting Health Benefits of Meditation
Lack of Sleep Can Lead To Weight Gain
Do you sleep for at least seven hours a night? If your answer to this question is “no” than you are sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Lack of sleep leads to weight gain because sleep deprivation disrupts two of our main nightly hormones Ghrelin and Leptin. Ghrelin works to regulate the appetite. This hormone signals the brain to seek food. When we are in a sleep-deprived state the body produces high levels of Ghrelin which in turn fools the brain into thinking that the body is hungry. High levels of this hormone can lead to late night cravings and binge eating during the day.
Leptin is a hormone that also regulates the appetite. However, this hormone works in contrast to Ghrelin by telling the brain to stop eating. When we are in a sleep deprived state our bodies produce less of this hormone. Therefore, we have a harder time feeling full, after a meal, when we are sleep deprived because the signal to the brain which triggers it to make us feel full is weak.
Making matters worse is the fact that lack of sleep can also slow down the metabolism and increase Cortisol levels, which when combined make gaining weight inevitable.
Your Birth Control Can Make You Fat
One of the main side effects of most birth control pills is weight gain. On the other hand, the main side effect of not taking birth control pills is ending up with a bus full of kids who call you “mom”.
Though skipping our birth control pills is not an option for many of us women, this medication does not need to doom us to a life of obesity. Luckily, today, we have many birth control options to choose from. So, don’t be afraid to experiment. If your current birth control is causing you to gain a drastic amount of weight (over 20lbs in one year) speak to your doctor about other options that may not have the same effect on your body.
Menopause Can Make You Fat
Yes! Menopause can wreak havoc on your metabolism. However, there are steps you can take to manage your health and the physical changes that menopause brings.
One of the most effective steps you can take to stop yourself from gaining weight during menopause is to decrease your carbohydrate intake while increasing your weight training efforts as well as overall physical activity levels.
This is an effective formula for fighting post menopausal weight gain because during menopause a woman’s metabolism slows down, due to hormonal changes, making it easier for her to store fat, especially around the abdominal. Worse yet, she also begins to lose a great deal of muscle mass as well as bone mass. However, physical exercise, especially weight training, has been scientifically proven to help women fight post menopausal muscle and bone loss as well as maintain a healthy weight.
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