One of my readers recently emailed and asked me:
How come weight goes on so easily and quickly, and yet I have to labour long and hard to get any off?
This is certainly one of life’s annoying little mysteries.
And, it’s rather unfair.
You can be so careful, watching what you eat for weeks, then it seems like in just one weekend away, and a few treats later, a good chunk of your hard work is completely undone.
Your favorite pair of trousers once zipped easily, but now you can barely get them over your hips. Agh! Before you know it, you’re 10 pounds heavier than last time you checked.
This is very annoying, no doubt, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable for you.
By making a few gradual lifestyle changes you can stop this weight gain phenomenon, and even drop a few pounds in the process.
How to Avoid Rapid Weight Gain
1. Avoid Fluid Retention
For some people increased sodium in their diet is the cause of their water retention.
Sodium is present in pretty much all processed foods, so the easiest way to cut your intake is to avoid eating these foods, and don’t add any salt when you cook food at home, either.
Another very common cause of water retention is losing weight too quickly.
When you lose weight quickly, you force your body to use up stores of carbohydrate, and breakdown protein in the muscles. Both carbohydrate and protein help to hold water in the body’s cells, so any loss of these macronutrients will lead to a loss of water.
Then, when things stabilize again, it’s normal to experience some weight regain, as some of the protein and carbohydrate stores initially lost are now replenished, and the water is drawn back into the cells again.
Ways to reduce your fluid retention:
- Avoid very restrictive diets — slow weight loss is much better.
- Cut back on dehydrating drinks such as tea, coffee and alcohol.
- Drink lots of water — while it may sound contradictory, a well hydrated body is less likely to retain fluid.
- Avoid very salty, processed foods.
- Take regular exercise.
2. Increase Muscle Mass
Particularly when you go on holiday, or over the Christmas season, food and drink are in abundance, but your daily schedule changes quite a bit, often meaning you are less active than usual.
No doubt it’s cruel, but just a few days of eating more than you burn off can result in the pounds creeping back on.
But, don’t get disheartened, the best ways to stop gaining weight is to power up your metabolism by increasing your muscle mass.
This is because muscle is an active tissue, so by building muscle mass you will burn more calories.
To minimize naturally occurring muscle loss as your get older, you need to be physically active every day. This includes doing some resistance training, two to three times per week.
That way, those little indulgences every now and then, will have a less significant effect on your body shape.
3. Avoid Emotional Eating
If your response to stress, depression or boredom is to eat excessively, this may be your biggest cause of rapid weight gain.
Unfortunately, no diet can work for you as long as you are eating in response to your emotions.
I challenge you to make a record of any emotional eating you experience for one week, as this will help you to discover the root of overeating. This could be the first step in helping you deal with these emotions. Isn’t it worth giving a go?
4. Check Medications
If you are taking hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants, or diabetic medications, for example, these can lead to some fluid retention, increased appetite, and/or weight gain.
It’s worth discussing this with your doctor if you suspect prescription drugs are making you gain weight, since there may be a suitable alternative you can take.
5. Eat Less
As we get older our metabolism begins to slow down, making it more difficult (but not impossible) for us to lose or maintain our weight.
So, if you are still eating the same amount of food you ate when you were in your 20s, and you are now 40+, it’s very likely you will begin to pile on the pounds.
The solution is to eat fewer calories than you did when you were younger. Here is a recent article on controlling your portion sizes, for help with eating less at mealtimes.
6. Your Hormones
There’s little you can do about this one, but it’s worth noting anyway.
If you are a women, hormones can also wreak havoc your weight.
For some, certain times of the month will bring water retention, which will be gone within a few days. So, if that’s the cause for you, it’s little to worry about, and certainly isn’t a result of you being inactive, or overeating.
Also, from your mid-thirties onwards, the level of progesterone begins to drop, with oestrogen becoming more predominant – this can result in weight gain.
Throw into the mix the menopause, and us women have a sure-fire recipe for weight gain… if we aren’t careful.
Again, the solution is to eat less, and take some regular exercise.
Coping With Rapid Weight Gain
What’s vitally important is that you don’t let any weight gain throw you off course. You’re not allowed to throw in the towel, okay? 🙂
With a healthy eating plan, portion control, and a regular, intense exercise routine (particularly weight bearing exercise), you will be able to get control of your weight.
The best way to deal with rapid weight gain is to avoid it completely, however.
Granted this isn’t always easy. But, when you begin to notice the pounds slipping on again, nip this weight gain in the bud right away, before it starts to get out of control.
This is ultimately the best solution!