Gaining Weight

4 Weird Reasons Why You're Gaining Weight

Yes, the most likely culprits behind extra weight gain includes your couch and the snack shelf. But some new studies suggest there are less obvious factors that could lead to mid-section spread. Here are four subtle and weird ways you could be adding pounds—and how to stop it.

1. Couple trouble

Want a compelling reason to immediately resolve your marital woes? Letting your fights get too hot might make you more susceptible to weight gain . A recent study found that couples whose arguments were tinged with hostility had higher levels of a hunger hormone—and were more likely to make poor food choices—than couples who were kinder to each other.

Researchers at the University of Delaware tracked hormone levels in 43 couples as they ate a meal and then discussed their differences. Observers rated the discussions—which often boiled into arguments—on the use of hostile language. Couples who ranked high in the use of hostile language also had the highest circulating levels of ghrelin, a hunger-related hormone that encourages eating. When the researchers asked the couples to fill out food surveys, hostile couples were more likely to report eating foods high in sodium and unhealthy fats compared to those whose interactions were more civil.

"The findings suggest marital distress may be an important risk factor for weight gain," says study author Lisa Jaremka, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Delaware, though she is quick to add that the effect was missing in people already overweight. In other words, don't wait too long to get couples counseling.

2. Overdoing it on iron

If you were thinking about cutting back on red meat to help control calories, here's one more reason that could be a sound plan: A new study suggests the amount of iron in red meat might alter hunger hormones in your body, slowing metabolism and encouraging you to eat more.

Donald McClain, director of the Center on Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism at Wake Forest School of Medicine fed mice diets that contained high or low levels of iron while tracking their levels of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone. After two months, McClain discovered that leptin levels had dropped by as much as 42% in the high-iron mice. To test whether low leptin led to over-eating, he let both groups of mice eat as much as they wanted: Sure enough, the high-iron group downed more calories than mice on the low-iron diet. Finally, McClain checked iron and leptin levels in 76 people and discovered that the higher their iron, the lower their leptin levels were. People with the highest iron had one-third the leptin of those with the lowest amounts of iron. (Everyone's iron levels fell within the normal range.)

McClain's findings suggest iron recommendations—18 mg a day for women 18 to 50 and 8 mg a day for women 51 and older—may be too high, he says. Eating more than a pound of red meat per week could be enough to raise leptin to levels he observed in his research, warns McClain. Unless your doctor says otherwise, you'll want to limit the amount of iron you get from meat and supplements, says McClain. But don't be too concerned about iron sources such as nuts, beans, spinach, tomatoes: You don't absorb as much from these food sources as you do from red meat.

3. Blaming your DNA

Some day, science may be able to link certain genes to a tendency to gain weight—but we're not there yet. And a recent study suggests that believing weight problems are genetic practically guarantees you'll pack on the pounds.

Tapping into a survey of nearly 9,000 women and men, Michael C. Parent, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychological sciences at Texas Tech University and colleagues analyzed the people's beliefs regarding the genetics of being fat. When Parent followed up three years later, he discovered that the more strongly people believed genetics played a significant role in fatness, the more likely they were to have gained weight. This group was also less likely to exercise and eat right.

Mind is definitely influencing matter here, since Parent's findings also revealed that people who believed their weight was under their control were more likely to eat well, exercise regularly, and have a lower BMI. "There is no direct genetic cause for obesity," says Parent. He recommends you avoid playing the genetic blame game; instead, embrace the idea that you are in control of your weight.

4. It's just harder than it used to be

This is truly frustrating news: Recent findings published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice indicate that we're getting fatter on fewer calories than our parents did. Although we're eating about the same amount of food—and we're equally active—the current generation is gaining more weight than people did 40 years ago.

The researchers analyzed info on more than 36,000 people between 1971 and 2008, comparing diet, activity, and weight. Study author Jennifer Kuk, professor of health and sciences at York University in Toronto found that given the same amount of calories, an adult in 2008 is about 10% heavier than she would be in 1971. "Again, we're finding that weight management is much more complex than just energy in versus energy out," says Kuk. The solution isn't complex, however: We have to move more and be more careful about what we eat. Sigh—see you at the personal trainer's studio in Chicago.

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Author: Prevention
4 Weird Reasons Why You're Gaining Weight
Reasons why you may be gaining weight while personal training in Chicago.

The Link Between Staying Up Late And Getting Fat

Considering the constant demands in the lives of my personal training clients in Chicago, it isn't surprising that they're not getting much sleep. Unfortunately, this habit may be the main obstacle to their weight loss success. This article tells you why.


Inside the Sleep and Mood Research Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers studied how the number of hours a person sleeps may affect their weight. The findings, published in the journal Sleep, reveal how teenagers are especially susceptible to gaining weight when they regularly go to bed late.

For the study, researchers analyzed 3,300 teens’ and adults’ sleep schedules over five years and calculated that for every extra hour that teens stayed awake, they would gain about 2.1 points on their body mass index (BMI). BMI is a scale that’s used to measure a person’s body fat based on their height, weight, and gender, and ranges from underweight (less than 18.5) to morbidly obese (30 or greater). The researchers also found that teens were still susceptible to weight gain if they stayed up late and slept in later the next day. These findings held regardless of the time the teens spent exercising, or on their computers, cell phones, tablets, or other electronic devices. If they stayed up late, they were more likely to gain weight.

A person’s circadian rhythm, also known as their natural sleep cycle, regulates physiological and metabolic functions, and typically shifts to a later sleep cycle when puberty hits. For this reason, developing healthy sleep habits as a teen lays the foundation for a healthier adulthood — with regard to both a healthy sleep pattern and other aspects of wellbeing.

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 International Bedroom Poll, the amount of sleep the average person logs each night has steadily decreased over the past century. The average American sleeps only six-and-a-half hours a night during a five-day workweek. But while Americans have been skipping their sleep, their waistlines have been getting wider. In the last 30 years alone, obesity rates have quadrupled in adolescents, adding to the 34.9 percent of the country’s adult obesity population.

"Obesity is obviously growing among adolescents and adults, and there's also an epidemic of lack of sleep and later bedtime preference in teens," the study’s lead author Lauren Asarnow, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, told CBS News. "There's been some literature looking at the relationship [between] late bedtimes and weight gain cross-sectionally, but no one's ever looked at what happens long-term."

Scientists are just starting to grasp the extent to which human health depends on the length and quality of rest the body gets. Sleep typically takes up about a third of every person’s day, giving merit to why research on it has been gaining momentum — this began in 1993 when the National Institutes of Health opened up a branch specifically designed to study how sleep affects health on a short and long-term basis.

Teens are also more likely to engage in late night snacking. When the brain is sleep deprived, the prefrontal cortex, which controls impulses and decision making, isn’t working at full capacity, and therefore makes a person far more likely to give into cravings. “These results highlight adolescent bedtimes, not just total sleep time, as a potential target for weight management during the transition to adulthood,” Asarnow said in a press release, adding that teens who go to bed early “set their weight on a healthier course as they emerge into adulthood.”

Source: Asarnow L, et al. Sleep. 2015.

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Author: Samantha Olson at Medical Daily
The Link Between Staying Up Late And Getting Fat
Improving your sleep habits to lose weight while personal training in Chicago.