There are many factors to consider when trying to lose weight
By Barbara Pierce
Many of us have packed on some extra pounds we’re trying to get rid of.
We’ve done all the right things: dieted, exercised and drank more water. We blame the pandemic, the holidays, and the cold weather that the weight isn’t going anywhere.
We asked registered dietitian Crystal Hein of Crystal Clear Nutrition in Herkimer what might be sabotaging efforts to lose those extra pounds and how to work around them.
1. Your gut could be the cause
Your gastrointestinal tract contains bacteria that influence your overall health and total body balance, said Hein. There are many different strains of bacteria. The link between them and weight gain is not clear and needs more study.
What to do: “The use of probiotic and prebiotic supplements has been shown to prevent weight gain,” said Hein. “But you need to understand the different types of bacteria, the appropriate doses, and suitable regime of supplementation. There are many prebiotics and probiotics to choose from. To make sure you’re correctly using a safe supplement, always consult with a registered dietitian or your physician.”
2. Maybe it’s your meds
“Many medications have a variety of side effects,” said Hein. “Weight gain or increased appetite are possible side effects of anti depressants, anti-inflammatory steroid medications (prednisone), and beta blockers (blood pressure medications).”
What to do: Medications affect your weight differently, whether it’s by causing you to retain fluid, increasing your appetite, or slowing your metabolism, she added.
Sometimes the weight gain that comes when you’ve started a new medication could be due to the fact that you’re feeling better and therefore have an increased appetite, she explained.
3. What to do if you suspect your medication
“You never want to change or stop medications without consulting with your doctor,” she cautioned. “You definitely don’t want to stop steroid medications abruptly.” Ask your doctor for options; some alternative medications may even be associated with weight loss.
4. It could be depression or stress
“Depression or stress can increase your appetite and cause weight gain,” she said. “Often, we turn to ‘comfort foods’ when we’re feeling sad or depressed. It can be easy to reach for a sugary pick-me-up when feeling down in the dumps. And elevated levels of stress hormone can make the body store fat.”
What to do: “Do something else to relieve the stress – go for a walk, listen to music, read a book, meditate, deep breathing or call a friend,” she recommended.
5. When you eat is just as important as what you eat:
Grazing at night can cause weight gain. Not eating enough during the day will increase your cravings in the evening and you may end up making poor food choices and eating more calories than your body needs, Hein suggested.
What to do: Don’t skip meals during the day. Don’t eat a big meal at the end of the day, as your body will not have time to burn it off.
6. Are you sleeping enough?
Lack of sufficient sleep has been linked to weight gain, she said. Poor sleep results in an increase in the hormones that increase your appetite and lowers the hormone that makes you feel full.
What to do: To get a good night’s sleep, do things to help you relax before bed, she suggested. Stop using your phone at least an hour before bed; use aromatherapy (lavender); take a hot bath before bed. Don’t drink alcohol — despite popular belief, alcohol disrupts good sleep. Try to keep a schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Be physically active during the day; try to get some exercise. Don’t become dependent on caffeine, as it can disrupt sleep hours later.
7. Are you making poor food choices?
Making poor food choices can be a cause of weight gain, she said. Over the past decades, portion sizes at restaurants have become larger; you may be consuming more calories than you think. Portion control is important in weight loss.
Also, be mindful of the types of foods you chose; low-fat foods may not be healthier; they may have more calories and sugar.
What to do: Be sure to include foods high in fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. This means including low fat dairy, lean protein sources, fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Drink plenty of water. Limit alcohol and caffeine intake.
8. Are you working from home?
As you have easier access to food and may not be moving around enough, working from home can cause weight gain.
What to do: Keep a schedule, fit in activity breaks during your day. Eat snacks high in protein.
9. Your thyroid may not be functioning properly:
Your thyroid gland does have a major impact on your body; an under active thyroid can make it difficult to lose weight.
What to do: See your health care provider for an assessment.