Weight gain, exacerbated by the lifestyle choices we make, is a major concern. While gradual and continuous weight gain is commonly seen, there are instances when people gain pounds suddenly, and things spiral out of control in no time.
Swathi Doshi, 40, is one of those living with the repercussions of sudden and unexplained weight gain. The homemaker from Bengaluru shares that genetics and stress led to her weight gain. The intriguing bit is that even post-pregnancy, she had managed to get back to her normal body weight. However, during her late 30s, her weight shot up. To make matters worse, she has been unable to do anything about it because of her busy schedule.
What causes sudden and unexplained weight gain?
Apart from stress and genetics, sudden weight gain is often a result of the side effects of medication, hormonal changes and fluid retention. Experts highlight the various causes of sudden weight gain:
- Sedentary lifestyle: “If a person has gone from an active lifestyle to a sedentary one, it could cause sudden weight gain,” says Dr R Nirmala, general physician and nutrition coach, Niramai Clinic, Bengaluru.
- Hormonal issues: Conditions like hypothyroidism and cortisol issues can lead to a sudden increase in body weight. Also, during menopause, there is fluctuation of estrogen, which can also lead to sudden weight gain.
- Medication: Steroids and even some other long-term medicines can cause unexpected weight gain. They can cause an increase in appetite, affect the body’s metabolism, and lead to water retention.
- Digestive disorders: “Ulcers, constipation, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive issues can hinder digestion, leading to sudden weight gain,” shares Shailendra Pratap Singh, personal trainer and weight management specialist from Delhi.
- Injury: Accidents or injuries, especially those restricting movement, can lead to one putting on a few extra kilos. This results in less energy expenditure, causing sudden weight gain.
- Stress or trauma: Stress in the body offsets psychological and physiological aspects, leading to hormonal imbalance and weight gain.
- Genetics: Genetics plays a big role in physiological changes over time. In the case of sudden weight gain, this factor might not play a big role but it does contribute.
Several people, including Doshi, feel that genetics is one of the main causes of sudden weight gain without taking note of other factors. “Genetics certainly plays a role,” says Singh. “But it’s your lifestyle that contributes much more. Also, exercise and dietary modifications are key — not only for weight management but also for living a healthy life.”
Ways to manage and minimize sudden weight gain
Unexplained weight gain due to changes in the environment, lifestyle, psychological or physiological patterns is usually temporary. If you cut off the stimulus, you might stop the problem.
Dr Nirmala shares, “The weight loss mechanism or method used should be based on the reason for weight gain. For example, if it is due to hypothyroidism, then the person would need medication along with dietary changes to correct it. If it is a sudden change in lifestyle and menopause, then being active is key.”
If you notice sudden weight gain, it’s best to consult a doctor. Underlying causes can often be identified by assessing dietary history and evaluating hormonal levels. In addition, a clinical examination should be performed to check if the weight gain is due to water retention. Your medication also needs to be evaluated to rule out potential issues.
Weight gain due to medication or injury is usually temporary and stops once you get better or the treatment is completed. If it is because of some medical condition, a doctor or professional can help reverse or manage the issue.
“Some lifestyle changes like excluding outside food — especially junk, processed or packaged meals — from your diet and being more physically active throughout the day will support the journey of weight loss,” adds Singh.
Sudden weight gain can be due to many factors including injury, genetics and medical conditions. Identifying the root cause of unintentional weight gain in consultation with a medical professional while making suitable lifestyle changes will support the journey of weight loss.