Piling on the kilos despite the usual diet and exercise routine? It’s not a good sign.
The startling reason for your weight gain… (Photo: Ilya Andriyanov / www.123rf.com)
Trying to lose weight is hard enough. But what if you find yourself ballooning, even though you are sticking to the plan of eating in moderation and exercising regularly? Putting on more than ﬁve per cent of your original weight over three months is unusual, says Dr Stanley Liew, deputy medical director and endocrinology specialist at Raffles Diabetes & Endocrine Centre. It could be a cause for concern, so play it safe by seeing a doctor.
1. Sudden weight gain? It could be… Hypothyroidism
Some other signs of hypothyroidism could include fatigue, feeling cold or constipated. Even though an underactive thyroid gland has been linked to a lower basal metabolic rate (read: you burn calories slowly), most of the extra weight gained is more likely due to an excess accumulation of salt and water, reports the American Thyroid Association.
How to deal with hypothyroidism See a specialist at once. Treatments often involve a combination of medication, radiation and surgery.
2. Sudden weight gain? It could be… Stress
A telling sign is that you constantly feel tensed. Too much cortisol (stress hormone) in your system not only stimulates the appetite but also makes you crave fatty and/ or sugary food, says Dr Kevin Tan, a consultant diabetologist and endocrinologist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre. You could be keeping the same mealtimes, but eating more calories at each sitting without realising it.
How to deal with stress Keep a food journal to track changes in your diet. Counter frustration at work by hitting the gym or scheduling a yoga session at lunchtime. Setting realistic goals and giving yourself time to adjust from one change to the next can also help, advises the Health Promotion Board of Singapore (HPB).
3. Sudden weight gain? It could be… Cushing’s syndrome
An umbrella term to describe a wide range of symptoms triggered by high levels of cortisol in the body, it’s typically brought on by a tumour in the glands that produce the hormone, or long-term use of corticosteroids (inﬂammation-reducing medicine).
How to deal with Cushing’s syndrome Depending on the underlying cause, the doctor may recommend different treatment options including the gradual reduction of corticosteroid usage, surgery, radiation or cortisol-lowering medication.
Could your medicine be the reason behind your sudden weight gain? (Photo: aloisiocostalatge / www.pixabay.com)
4. Sudden weight gain? It could be… Your medication
Surprise, surprise! Common meds that cause bloating include steroids (often prescribed to treat asthma and joint problems), oral contraceptive pills and some psychiatric drugs.
How to fix your medication Speak to your physician about changing the prescription or ask if you could reduce the dosage needed, advises Dr Liew.
5. Sudden weight gain? It could be… Nicotine withdrawal
Yes, trying to quit smoking could be why you’re gaining weight. The reason: “When withdrawal symptoms like ﬁdgeting kick in, most people ﬁnd themselves reaching for snacks as a way to replace their craving for nicotine,” explains Dr Liew.
How to deal with nicotine withdrawal A combination of using medication to reduce withdrawal symptoms and receiving support at a smoking cessation clinic increases the chances of quitting successfully by 10 times more than relying solely on willpower, says Dr Kenneth Chan, specialist in respiratory medicine at Respiratory Medical Associates.
6. Sudden weight gain? It could be… Fluid retention
Check now: Do you have swollen feet? That could be a sign of fluid retention. The leading causes of water retention include high intake of salt, high blood pressure as well as serious conditions such as heart and liver failure. Besides weight ﬂuctuations and swollen ankles, other symptoms include stiff, aching muscles.
How to deal with fluid retention Proper diagnosis is required to pinpoint the exact cause, so pay your doctor a visit especially if you’ve a family history of the above diseases. In the meantime, cutting back on salt may help. The HPB advises consuming no more than 5g of salt (2,000mg of sodium) a day.