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Why are you gaining weight?

My patients often ask me for ideas as to why they are gaining weight. It’s no secret that weight gain isn’t only from eating too much or being lazy. There’s likely more at play here. That’s why I’d like to share causes of weight gain that usually get overlooked.

Food and activity causes of weight gain Of the hundreds of factors that could be contributing to weight gain, first consider the more obvious: how active you are and what you eat predominately.

Everyone has a different rate of metabolism due to genetics and lifestyle patterns. So, if you are one who can put on weight easily from what you eat, take a very close look at how carbohydrate foods affect you. If simple carbohydrates stick to your body quickly, then learn to identify: All foods that turn to sugar quickly: these become stored as fat on your body: bread, pasta, white rice, and all the sweetened processed foods you see in all the middle aisles of the grocery store. Tip: always eat a large salad or low glycemic fruit (not bananas or pineapple) along with any simple carbohydrate food you do eat. The fiber and nutrients of the vegetables and fruits lower the rapid absorption of the sugar food. Your optimal dinner time. Eating after 6 pm with very little body movement means your dinner food calories will not be burned for energy—so they’ll get stored as energy (fat cells). Moreover, what movement activity you do after dinner matters. Tip: take a walk and keep active if at all possible after this meal (especially if this is your largest meal of the day). Your dessert after dinner: These calories are for sure going to stick to your body storage fat areas. Tip: discover drinking herbal tea, coffee, a low-sugar liquid, smoothie, or plain yogurt and fruit (sweeten with stevia). How quickly you eat your meals: It takes 20 minutes for your brain to begin to register your level of satiety from food. Tip: at all costs, don’t take a second portion or begin a dessert until the full effect is tallied in your brain (30 minutes). If you move enough daily for your metabolic needs. If you gain weight easily, plan 4 sessions of moderate to high exercise per week. Pick the activity you know keeps your heart rate over 130 beats per minute, sustained for more than 30 minutes. Tip: exercise will not make up for consistently over-eating unhealthy food! I just met a man who lost 120 pound in 5 months. He told me emphatically that working out can never make up for unhealthy food choices.  

If you’ve taken a hard look at these two areas (food and activity), then read my next blog about subtler causes of weight gain: medications and xenobiotics.

Best of health, Michael Cutler, M.D.

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