Top Chef Meals: Why Are You Gaining Weight?

Why Are You Gaining Weight?

Quarantine has caused many of us to put on a few pounds. You may think it’s due to eating more comfort food, but you might be wrong.

THE STORY: Sometimes figuring out why you’ve recently gained weight is easy - you’ve eating out more thank cooking and haven’t had time to exercise. Other times it’s a little harder to figure out and during these unprecedented times of stress and anxiety, the reasons can be more complicated.


1. Hormonal Issues: For women, one of the biggest factors in weight gain can be issues with hormones. Hormones regulate a lot of processes in the body, including metabolism, so when things get out of whack it can lead to weight gain and more. The most common hormonal issues to look out for are insulin resistance (when your body can no longer regulate insulin), low thyroid (which can slow metabolism), elevated cortisol (known as the stress hormone), low testosterone (usually associated with men but women have this too and it plays into metabolism and weight), and elevated estrogen (estrogen being too high leads to a lot of problems).
2. Insomnia: The pandemic has been stressful and stress can lead to sleepless nights which can lead to weight gain. Why? Too little sleep raises the levels of the hormone that signals it’s time eat and also lowers the level of the hormone that conveys that “I’m full” feeling. In fact, a 2018 study in the journal SLEEP found that people who slept just one hour more a week lost more fat than those who slept an hour less!
3. Stress: Speaking of stress - stress affects not just sleep but hormones too, plus it can cause bad habits (like overeating, undereating, too much caffeine, and more). All of this can lead to inflammation and weight gain.
4. Medication: Did you know that certain medications can cause weight gain or water retention? Antidepressants can affect the appetite center of the brain, beta-blockers can slow metabolism, and some steroids can pack on pounds. That’s not to say that you should just up and quit taking your medications, but if you think a medication you’re on might be causing weight gain, talk to your doctor.
5. Dehydration: Are you drinking enough water? Most people don’t get enough water each day, leading to water weight and bloating. And did you know that being properly hydrated actually increases your metabolism? While everybody is different, the general recommendation for how much water a day you need is 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women.

THE WRAP-UP: Food may not be the only reason you’ve put on the Quarantine 15. Take a look at your sleep and hydration, try to lower stress levels (it’s difficult right now, we know!), and check your hormones and medication if you’re having issues. And as always, continue to eat well and get in exercise when you can!