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Common Causes That Trigger Weight Gain

The most common causes of weight gain and how these factors influence your body weight.

Written by Diet Bites


What Causes Weight Gain - and it's not simply overeating....

All too often we blame our excess pounds on genes, poor metabolism, resistance to exercise, our raging level of appetite, our cravings, our busy schedules, budgeting for more expensive healthier food choices and stress - and yes, all of these factors impact our body weight with our gene pool and level of stress leading the pack.

The excess pounds we put onto our bodies is triggered by these factors, causing us to overeat. Once we control these influencing factors, we can lose the excess pounds - yes, forever. But take note - it's a challenging process, one that I undertook some 20 years ago, losing over 100 pounds and keeping them off! And yes, you can too! On that note, Diet Bites can show you how to reach your healthy weight in 2015 - and how to keep those lost pounds from finding their way back onto your body [bread crumbs optional]...

This health article discusses the most common causes of weight gain - and offers insight on how we can control these triggers, lose the excess pounds and maintain our recommended healthy body weight.

Stress, Metabolic Issues & Overeating

Before I lost over 120+ pounds some 20 years ago - about 1/2 of my body weight, I blamed my overweight state on a poor metabolism. Unfortunately, a metabolic imbalance isn't as common as we'd like to believe.

The vast majority of time, we put on excess pounds because we overeat - we simply consume more energy [calories] than our body expends. BUT - in almost-every case, there is a reason why we overeat. While overeating results in unwanted pounds, it's not the true cause of weight gain. There are underlying factors which trigger the body to overeat.

We may be stressed, bored, or eating foods which are excessive in fat and calories. We may be too lethargic or we may have a crummy, inefficient genes that we inherited from our ancestors.

Stress Impact on Body Weight

I can attest that being under stress greatly influences body weight. Stress impacts our cortisol, a steroid hormone [a glucocorticoid] produced by the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex and which affects the metabolism of glucose, protein and fats. Under times of great stress, cortisol levels significantly influence body weight - generally storing fat in the upper abdominal area, just below the breasts. The stored fat looks like a roll which stretches across the body. We are at high risk of weight gain during these excessive times of stress in our lives.

There are weight loss supplements advertised for cortisol management - but we strongly advise against these supplements. Potentially danger side-effects of adrenal-related supplements include:

- Disturbances in sleep;
- Conflict with medications, including prescription and non-prescription medications;
- Hormonal imbalances; Masculization [unwanted hair, profuse sweating, acne];

- Heart related health issues including irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms, vomiting & nausea;
- Gastrointestinal disturbances;
- Impact on moods;
-Death in some situations.

Keep in mind that drugs - including herbal supplements have a stronger impact and response on younger, older and sick individuals than they do on a healthy adult. Therefore the side-effects of a cortisol supplement may render a life-threatening event in these individuals. Always ask your doctor before taking any non-prescribed medication or supplement, even 'natural' supplements.

Gene Pool Impact on Body Weight


Thin Betty can eat a ton more goodies than Fat Alice, yet never gain an inch. They are the same age, the same height and the same body frame sizes. Why doesn't Thin Betty put on pounds? Because she was blessed with a very efficient metabolism - good genes. If one of your parents is overweight, you are at a moderate risk for being overweight. If both parents are overweight [mine were], you are at a significant risk for being overweight. If your parents AND your grandparents were all overweight - the more difficult it will be for you to maintain your healthy recommended weight. BUT - it is certainly doable.

Personally speaking, my parents were obese - my father, significantly obese most of his adult life, and also amid a few years of his childhood. My mother was razor-thin during her childhood and into young adulthood. After the age of 40 she began gaining about 20+ pounds a decade until she was about 70 pounds overweight. In her early seventies she suffered three consecutive strokes and remained overweight for about three years, then began dropping pounds. At 80+, she's had dementia going on seven years and is quite thin again.

My father discovered he had diabetes in his forties. He was never able to properly manage his diabetes and his death in his early 70's stemmed from this disease. He suffered for 30+ years with multiple health issues - from almost losing his leg to kidney failure to heart attacks to life-threatening high potassium levels to losing his eye sight. One day his foot felt uncomfortable and after further examination by my mom, they discovered he'd stepped on a nail. When one has diabetes, they often lose feeling in their extremities - and such was the case with my dad. He was diagnosed with 'dry gangrene'. In the early stages, he and my mom weren't very concerned about his foot but after I learned about the nail incident, I went to see him for myself and told him that's what I thought that he had and told him that he had to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, I was correct. But fortunately, he didn't end up losing his leg - or his foot, just one toe.

The reason why he lived so long was largely due to his high level of activity. Even after he went blind, he set up poles with white flags on them in his garden area so that he could continue to grow things. But after a time, he couldn't even make out the white flags. And after his heart attack, he lost his level of energy. In addition, because blood wasn't circulating properly to his brain, he wasn't quite the same father that I knew.

As to my grandparents, three were significantly overweight [more than 50 pounds]. My father parents lived into their sixties with his dad dying of a sudden massive heart attack. He'd been to a wrestling match [I know] and died at a traffic light on the way home. My dad's mom died of diabetes.

My mother's father was thin his entire life. He ate a huge breakfast, but he didn't care for lunch or dinner and barely picked at his food - even when breakfast foods were on the menu. He was also an alcoholic for a good portion of his life - got saved in his sixties and quit drinking. He suffered from heart disease and got cancer of the throat due to smoking and drinking, which was cured. He succumbed to old age and heart issues. My mom's mother died of a sudden massive heart attack at age  62.


I battled weight from the eighth grade going forward - but never was considered 'fat' during this time, but in looking back at my school pictures, I certainly was plump and rather chubby during grades 8 and 10. Then I married, got pregnant in my early 20's and my weight ballooned. I went up, I went down - and then I got pregnant again and kept losing the babies through miscarriages.

After my second child was born, my weight increased significantly. I got so fat that I looked grotesque. I looked like I was fixing to bust at any moment. I didn't like myself anymore. I had virtually zero self-confidence. And while my genes played a big factor in my weight gain, the chief cause was stress.

If I had not lost the excess pounds, I'm sure I'd be dead now due to diabetes and/or heart related issues.

Inactivity Impact on Body Weight

While inactivity impacts body weight, one need not exercise until the cows come home in order to have a healthy body. And over-exercising can be just as bad for your health as inactivity. Example: There are two gentlemen which walk our road daily - five miles each day. One has knee replacements due to over-activity and needs to have them replaced again. The other man walks with a limp which I've noticed is getting worse over the years. Often, hip replacements are necessary in weight lifters. So for every positive, there is a negative when we over-reach what our body is comfortably capable of accomplishing. For me at age 60+ is to walk 1-2 miles each day. If I'm not feeling well, I don't push myself.

Miscellaneous Factors Impact on Body Weight

Often a poor diet menu can contribute to weight gain. While vegetables might not be everyone's cup of tea, if we opt for them over a serving of mac & cheese, we'll save eons of calories. It is our personal opinion that the American Food Pyramid fails in not concentrating on more vegetables and fruits in the daily diet. We embrace the Mediterranean Food Pyramid as we feel it's a healthier pattern for the daily diet and for a healthier, longer life than the American Food Pyramid as it concentrates on limited amounts of red meat, sweets, eggs while encouraging the addition of vegetables and fruits in the daily diet.

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