5 Non-Calorie Reasons Why You’re Gaining Weight

We all know that calories can’t be the whole story. In the past decade, the nutrition conversation has shifted away from the “calories in, calories out” narrative to a much more scientifically-based and holistic one. 

Our bodies are incredibly intricate, and how much we weigh is a complicated story. But improving your overall physical health in addition to eating a balanced diet and staying active seems to be the straightest shot to a lean and healthy figure.

If diet and exercise haven’t lost the stubborn weight, check out these 5 non-calorie reasons why the scale is at a stand-still. 

1. Stress and Cortisol

I hope this doesn’t stress you out, but stress can lead to rapid weight gain in the face and abdomen. Weight in these areas can be a sign of hormonal imbalance, including chronic high levels of cortisol—our stress hormone. 

Lowering your stress isn’t just good for your waistline. Having too much cortisol can lead to a number of health conditions and symptoms, like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, impaired brain function, and infections. 

Solve Stress for Weight Loss

Stressors in life don’t ever go away completely, but we can learn how to manage stress in a much healthier way. Try out these 5 natural tips to keep your cortisol levels low: 

  1. Exercise for about 30 minutes a day—more or less can add stress to our bodies
  2. Sleep for 7-9 hours each night
  3. Try meditation or deep breathing daily
  4. Lower your caffeine intake (or switch to green tea)
  5. Ask your doctor about supplementing with fish oil and ashwagandha

2. Poor Sleep

If you’re catching less than 7 hours of sleep each night, your weight loss efforts are getting sabotaged from all sides. 

People who are sleep deprived have less of the feeling-full hormone (called leptin) and more of the hunger hormone (called ghrelin). They eat on average, an extra 200-300 calories each day (which calculates to about 10-15 pounds of gained body fat each year). They get tired 30% faster during a workout than a well-slept person. And, when weight loss does occur, 70% of that loss comes from their muscle rather than fat stores. 

Solve Poor Sleep for Weight Loss

These five sleep strategies can help you catch more Z’s and drop more pounds: 

  1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  2. Make your bedroom as dark as possible
  3. Drop the temperature of your house before sleeping
  4. Make sure you’re not too full or too hungry before hitting the sack
  5. Eat less sugar and starchy carbs and enjoy more protein and fiber 

3. Loss of Muscle Mass

You’ve probably heard that muscle burns more calories than fat. A lack of muscle mass could be keeping your metabolism much lower than its potential. Strengthening your muscles, on the other hand, can help us boost our overall health and lose body fat easier, especially as we age.

Plus, strength training improves other areas of your life, like mood, sleep, and cognitive function. People who regularly strength train are less at risk for certain diseases, including osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. It decreases anxiety and stress—another area that could be making those excess pounds stick around. 

Solve Muscle Loss for Weight Loss

Build those muscles and burn more calories with these five tips: 

  1. Increase your protein intake — most of us aren’t eating enough. (Download my free Macro Guide to calculate what your ideal is.)
  2. Include 3 strength training workouts into your week
  3. Help your muscles recover with 7-9 hours of sleep nightly
  4. Try HIIT workouts to increase muscle strength and burn fat simultaneously
  5. Include complex carbs and healthy fats in your daily diet

4. Sitting Too Much

50 to 70 percent of us spend six or more hours sitting per day. Research has linked prolonged sitting with obesity, high blood pressure and blood sugar, excess body fat, and high cholesterol. Scientists have seen such a strong correlation, they’ve nicknamed these metabolic issues the “sitting disease.” 

Besides causing weight gain, chairs are trying to take us down. A study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys found that a sedentary lifestyle shortens life expectancy. Sitting for most of the day results in the same risk of heart attack as smoking. If we would cut our sitting time in half, our life expectancy would increase by about two years! 

Solve Lengthy Sit Sessions for Weight Loss

Combatting the sitting disease doesn’t mean you have to log more hours at the gym. Here are five easy tactics so you can take a stand against lengthy sitting: 

  1. Take stretch breaks at least once an hour
  2. Invest in a standing workstation
  3. Stand and pace while you’re on the phone
  4. Sit (and bounce) on a yoga ball
  5. Stay hydrated and do 10 squats after each bathroom break

5. Inflammation

When our bodies are chronically inflamed, even the most diligent dieters can struggle with weight gain. Studies have found that inflammation is a common underlying factor in many diseases, like heart disease, cancer, hypertension, and diabetes. But there’s also a strong association between inflammation and weight gain. 

Inflammation and weight gain can lead to insulin resistance, higher glucose levels, and fat accumulation. Leptin—the hormone that tells us we’re full and should stop eating—malfunctions as well, increasing our appetite and slowing our metabolism. 

Solve Inflammation for Weight Loss

Stop the snowball effect of weight gain and inflammation with these five tips for reducing inflammation:

  1. Eat anti-inflammatory foods, like veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, and avocados
  2. Ditch processed and sugary foods and skip out on gluten, cow dairy, and alcohol
  3. Boost your gut health with yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut
  4. Lower stress by walking outside or doing yoga
  5. Sleep 7-9 hours a night

Make Weight Loss Much Easier

If you’ve been busting your bottom trying to lose pounds with little success, one or more of these five factors might be at play. Pick your trouble area and try out my solve-it tips this week to boost your weight loss efforts.

For more health hacks, join the insider’s crew and get my free weekly newsletter. If you’re ready to start dropping pounds (and boosting your overall health) like it’s your job, join my 7-week LEAN program today

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