When you struggle to lose weight, the reasons are usually clear: you eat too much, choose the wrong foods, and/or don’t exercise enough. But what if you feel like you’re doing everything right and the pounds still won’t budge? What if, in fact, you continue to gain weight?
It may be time to look beyond diet and exercise to find the root cause of your problem. Many medical conditions can make weight loss nearly impossible, some of them quite serious. If you’re experiencing unexplained weight gain, make an appointment with your doctor to take a closer look at what’s going on.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, leptin is an appetite suppressant hormone that helps regulate hunger and weight. It’s directly related to how much body fat you have; the more fat you store, the more leptin in your bloodstream, sending signals to alter your appetite so that your calorie expenditure and calorie intake match. People who have leptin resistance do not receive these helpful signals and therefore still feel the urge to overeat even when the pounds increase.
Medical News Today reports that kidney problems can also cause you to gain weight, although they also lead to loss of appetite. Kidneys that are not working properly are not able to rid your body of fluids and wastes, which then accumulate in body tissues. If this happens to you, you will notice swelling mainly in the legs, ankles and feet. You may also urinate less frequently and when you do, your urine may appear foamy.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
People with polycystic ovary syndrome may notice unexplained weight gain around their midsection. According to the Mayo Clinic, this condition is believed to be caused by excess male androgen hormones and low-grade inflammation, and can also lead to acne, unusual hair growth on the back, chest and face, baldness male, and cysts on the ovaries. Although there is no cure for this condition, it can be managed with lifestyle changes and hormone therapy.
Depression can cause a cascade of symptoms that directly impact your weight. Depression is linked to the stress hormone cortisol, says WebMD, which can cause excess weight to accumulate around your stomach. People with depression frequently suffer from sleep problems and lack of energy and may turn to foods or substances for relief, which can lead to weight gain. Even medications for depression can cause weight gain, although some options don’t have this side effect.
The thyroid is an endocrine gland located in the neck that regulates many automatic body functions, including metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate. Hypothyroidism occurs when the activities of the thyroid slow down, causing weight gain, fatigue, dry skin, and feeling cold. According to the American Thyroid Association (thyroid.org), hypothyroidism can be diagnosed with blood tests and, if detected, successfully managed with medication.
According to the American Heart Association, rapid weight gain is one of the main signs of heart failure. Although everyone experiences slight fluctuations in weight on a daily basis, sudden weight gain of more than 2 pounds per day or 5 pounds per week could be a sign that your heart is in trouble. Heart failure occurs when your heart cannot pump blood efficiently. Other symptoms include dizziness, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and swelling in the ankles, legs, and feet. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms.
Controlling your weight is a good goal. But when you don’t see any progress, it’s time to talk to your doctor to rule out the underlying causes.