You are fully resolved to lose weight. You get up early, exercise, have a healthy breakfast, go to the office, where you again steer clear of foods notorious for their role in weight gain. Outside too, you try to stay as active as you can. You get back home, exercise again, have a light and healthy dinner, meditate, have a cup of green tea, and go to bed for 7-8 hours of good night’s sleep. A week has gone, two more, you step on the weighing scale, only to find you gained a kilo. “What went wrong?” you think. You criticise yourself for having thought that you could do it after all. “Losing weight isn’t for me,” you think, eventually giving up on your fitness goal.
If this sounds like you, chances are there is nothing wrong with your fitness plan, but maybe you are ill-informed. This is because a poor lifestyle isn’t the only thing that can make you gain weight, or make it difficult for you to lose the same. Some diseases and conditions can do just that for you, leaving you to struggle not just with it but with your weight too. And to know what these diseases and conditions are, Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr Ashutosh Goyal, Senior Consultant, Endocrinology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.
Diseases & Conditions That Make You Gain Weight
Generally weight gain happens due to an unhealthy lifestyle, which includes bad eating habits, lack of exercise, improper sleep, and stress, said Dr Goyal. However, some certain diseases and conditions can lead to it too. Let us look at them one by one.
Hypothyroidism And Weight Gain
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Weight gain is one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. You have a butterfly-shaped gland in front of your neck, which is called the thyroid gland. It secretes thyroid hormones, which determine your body’s metabolism. When this gland secretes too little of these hormones, your metabolism slows down, which means you burn calories at a slower rate for energy. This eventually leads to weight gain. This is known as hypothyroidism. So, if you are experiencing an unexplained weight gain, or are finding it difficult to lose the same, get yourself checked for hypothyroidism. Other than weight gain, it has the following symptoms (source: USA’s National Library of Medicine):
- Puffy face
- Hair thinning
- Irregular or heavy menstruation
Hypothyroidism is generally treated with medicines.
Depression & Weight Gain
The link between depression and weight gain is quite complex. Depression can lead to weight gain and often obesity pushes people towards depression. Although the actual reason is still not known, a change in appetite is one of the symptoms of depression. Although some lose their appetite, leading to weight loss, for many, their appetite increases, leading to weight gain. In a state of depression, they might depend on food to satisfy themselves and trigger their brain’s reward system, which in turn can lead to weight gain. Here are some of the other symptoms of depression (source: UK’s National Health Service):
- A persistent feeling of sadness
- Feeling of helplessness and/or hopelessness
- Low self-esteem
- Loss of interest in activities you earlier used to enjoy
- Unable to enjoy life
- In extreme cases, it can even lead to suicidal thoughts
Excessive Secretion Of Cortisol Hormone & Weight Gain
Are you stressed out often and are gaining weight? The hormone cortisol, also called the stress hormone, might be at play here.
- Cortisol is the hormone your body (the adrenal glands, to be specific) releases during stress. It initiates your body’s ‘fight and flight’ response.
- When this happens your body’s immune response gets suppressed, as your body needs glucose for that ‘fight and flight’ response. When this happens over a prolonged time, your cells get glucose-starved, resulting in hunger pangs. As a result, you might end up eating too much, resulting in weight gain.
- There is another layer to that. Cortisol makes you store belly fat, another reason you might find it difficult to lose weight.
How To Lose Weight?
“If any person is having unexplained weight gain of more than 5% over the last few months and is not related to their lifestyle changes, he or she should consult a physician or an endocrinologist to be evaluated for thyroid disease or other disorders leading to weight gain,” said Dr Goyal. If this isn’t the case, maintain a healthy lifestyle by having a balanced diet, exercising well, managing stress, and sleeping well.
(With inputs from Dr Ashutosh Goyal, Senior Consultant, Endocrinology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram)
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