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7 surprising things that make you gain weight

Habits you didn’t realise that pile on the weight.

24 June 2019
3 minute read

Woman holding scale

Are you piling on the kilograms even though you’re eating right and exercising? We look at the lesser known causes of weight gain, backed by science, and why these habits pack on the pounds.

Late nightsYour body needs eight hours of sleep in order to function at an optimum level. When we deprive our body and brain of this much needed rest, energy and sugar (glucose) levels take a dive and we naturally search for alternative ways to spike them back up. Studies have also shown that sleep deprivation leads to increased levels of the hunger hormone called ghrelin and decreased levels of the hormone called leptin (satiety/ fullness hormone), which can lead to overeating and weight gain.

“Lack of sleep means you'll be hungrier, burn less fat, store more fat, make poorer decisions because of reduced impulse control, and you'll have an increased craving for energy-dense, high carb foods,” says Brendon Katz, owner of Fight Sports Centre.

Eating too quicklyA 2011 study from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported that people who rush through their meals are more likely to become obese than people who eat slowly.

“What happens is that we eat faster than our bodies can process the food before telling us that we are full in what is known as the satiety reflex. So, we end up overeating. The trick is to eat slower and wait at least five minutes after you have finished your first portion. You may not realise that your body is actually satisfied because it has not yet digested what you have already consumed,” says personal trainer Tamryn-Lee Goddard.

OvertrainingPeople who train too hard and too often tend to put on weight as opposed to losing it. “Our bodies have adapted to the high levels of exercise to the point where our results plateau and the exercise is no longer effective enough to ‘shock’ our bodies back into the fat loss stage,” says Goddard. Light to moderate exercise is key to weight loss and weight maintenance. “It is always good to vary your workouts by including some days of high intensity workouts and other days of light workouts to keep your body guessing,” she says.

Drinking alcoholEven if you are following a healthy eating plan, that 400 calories in a glass of red wine could be causing you to gain weight. “Remember that you can enjoy everything in moderation and having a glass of wine once a week is not a train smash. However, if you are compelled to drink on a daily basis you may want to watch WHAT you drink. Whiskey and gin are a healthier option and can be added to a sugar-free mix,” says Goddard.

Eating ‘low fat’ foodYou’ll see ‘low fat’ on a lot of foods these days, but in some cases, these foods contain high levels of sugar. High sugar foods can contain lots of calories, contributing to weight gain.

Being a people pleaserDoes it feel rude to say no to the double helping of malva pudding at a dinner party? If you’re a people pleaser who struggles to say no, you might acquiesce to offers of food that you should resist.

Watching TVWatching a lot of TV can feed into an inactive lifestyle. In addition, many of us consume calorie-rich snacks like crisps and chocolate while watching the telly. Inactivity together with eating high calorie food that you don’t need is a sure-fire way to add on kilos.

The bottom lineIf you’re on a weight-loss mission, it’s important to be consistent in calorie intake and exercise. So, identify the habits that you unwittingly allow to get you off track, and banish them.

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