Understanding Weight Gain, Body Fat and What Can Be Done
“Why can’t I lose weight?” is a common complaint shared by both men and women. It’s often is the last ten pounds, normally around the belly, that is the hardest to shift.
A person’s weight is largely dependent on the number of calories they consume and the number of calories burned. So, as a rule of thumb, if you eat more than you burn you will put on weight and vice versa.
There are some exceptions to this rule, and that is what we are going to look at in this article. What could the underlying reasons be of unexplained weight gain or sudden weight gain?
The Diet Merry-Go-Round
Unless you are very strict and consistent with a calorie-controlled diet and exercise regime you may end up asking yourself “why do I keep getting fat?”.
In order to maintain a healthy body weight, it is important to understand the importance of balancing a healthy diet with regular exercise. It is also really crucial to know your own body, what is normal and to recognize any changes or abnormalities so that you can raise your concerns with a doctor to address any underlying health issues.
What is Body Fat?
Did you know that body fat is not all bad? In fact, the body needs fat. There are three distinct types of body fat.
- Essential body fat – fat that the body needs to keep warm and protect internal organs. This is also called subcutaneous fat.
- Reserve body fat – the amount of additional fat that the body uses to fuel itself. It is also called intramuscular fat as it is contained in the muscle; and
- Excess Body Fat – the “bad” body fat that can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, strokes, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and colorectal cancer.
The Danger of Belly Fat
When we talk about excessive belly or stomach fat, we are referring to visceral fat, which surrounds the internal organs.
Visceral fat is actually not linked to overall weight. This means that even slender people can have an unhealthy percentage of visceral fat.
Unexplained Weight Gain and Its Causes
Unexplained weight gain is an increase in body weight that cannot be attributed to diet and exercise. Often it can be a sudden weight gain in the stomach area or excessive weight gain in a short period of time. So what is considered rapid weight gain? Arguably anything more than one or two pounds in a week would definitely be classified as rapid weight gain.
Following are some potential answers to a sudden increase in weight.
1. Hormonal Imbalance
Women will enter menopause usually between 45 and 55. This is when the amount of estrogen, the hormone responsible for menstruation and ovulation, begins to decrease until it is at a level that can no longer induce menstruation.
This decrease in estrogen can cause women experience weight gain, most commonly around the stomach and hips.
Women diagnosed with the complex endocrine disorder polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may also find that their weight fluctuates. This is because PCOS can interfere with the way the body uses insulin, which is the hormone that helps turn sugars and starches into energy.
There’s a long list of medications that are responsible for weight gain. These include antidepressants, birth control pills, steroids, beta-blockers, anti-seizure medications and even migraine and heartburn medications.
The reason for the weight gain can be caused by some medications increasing appetite or slowing down the metabolism.
3. Digestive Issues
The gut relies on good bacteria to function properly. When good and bad bacteria become unbalanced, your gastrointestinal tract may produce extra gas, your abdomen may become bloated, your bowel movements may become irregular, you may experience pain or notice unexplained weight gain.
A simple way to keep the gut flora healthy is to take a good-quality probiotic. In addition, drinking plenty of water and consuming a diet high in fiber will also help.
Unfortunately, this one is inevitable. Simply put, the older you get, the more muscle you lose, especially if you’re not physically active. This loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body burns calories resulting in weight gain.
Four Ways to Reduce Belly Fat
Here are four common methods to reduce stomach fat.
1. Eat a Healthy and Varied Calorie-Controlled Diet
Make sure that your diet contains a good variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose lean cuts of meat and other proteins such as fish as low-fat dairy products. Try to avoid saturated fats and processed food and reduce sugar and salt consumption.
2. Move Your Body Each Day
Healthy adults should be aiming to do at least 75-150 minutes of moderate-to-high aerobic activity each week. In addition, twice-weekly strength training to increase muscle mass is also recommended.
3. Consider Permanent Solutions Such as Surgery
A very drastic solution to weight loss is surgery, which is also called “bariatric surgery“. This form of surgical procedure causes weight loss by restricting the amount of food the stomach can hold or by not allowing the body to absorb nutrients.
Each type of bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass, bands, and sleeves, has its own pros and cons, associated risks and of course, expense, depending on your medical insurance. Speak to a trusted medical professional to discuss whether surgery is the most appropriate weight loss solution for you and to get a referral to a qualified surgeon.
4. Explore Non-Invasive Procedures
One such procedure is called Coolsculpting treatment and works by using controlled cooling to target and freeze fat cells.
Interestingly, fat cells freeze at higher temperatures than the tissues that surround them. That means that the CoolSculpting technology is able to accurately target only the fat cells and cool them to temperatures that will kill them.
The body then naturally processes the fat and eliminates the dead cells for good.
The Bottom Line
While this article doesn’t cover every aspect there is to know about weight gain and loss, we hope it gives you the information and knowledge you’ll need to find practical solutions to improve your health.