6 Common Reasons Men Suddenly Gain Weight02/11/2021
Sometimes, you don’t have to think too hard about why you picked up a few extra pounds. Like all those “special occasions” (hey, it’s Tuesday night!) that involve special-occasion foods like wings and brownies. Or a crushing workload at the office or at home that doesn’t give you time to get up and move around. It’s super common. Small fluctuations in weight are rarely anything to worry about.
But other times, you accumulate some extra weight and don’t have a good explanation. You’re really at a loss to explain where those pounds came from. If you’ve packed on 5 pounds or more in a matter of weeks—or even days—it’s time to take notice. “For a guy, five pounds is kind of—ding-ding—something’s going on here,” says Lawrence Cheskin, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center.
Cheskin explains that weight fluctuations of five pounds or more are fairly typical among women, but not so much among men. Especially if your weight has been stable for months or years. What could be the cause of this sudden weight gain? Here are seven common explanations.
You’re Eating Too Much Salt
Sodium consumption causes your body to retain water, Cheskin says. Water has weight and volume. So if you eat a lot of salty food several days in a row, you may suddenly gain weight, he says.
Restaurant food—and especially fast food—tends to be loaded with sodium. So if you’ve recently filled your days with takeout and restaurant meals, that could account for your abrupt influx of pounds. Keep in mind, however, that plenty of foods you eat at home are sodium motherlodes as well. Bread, sandwiches, cold cuts and cured meats are some of the top sources of sodium in the American diet. (Check out more of them here.)
You’re Taking a New Medication
“There are many medications that may cause weight gain,” says W. Scott Butsch, M.D., director of obesity medicine in the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, medication may cause up to 15 percent of obesity cases, he says.
Depression medications (including SSRIs) and heart disease drugs (beta blockers) are two common culprits, Butsch explains. But prescription sleep aids, painkillers, and even some allergy-blocking antihistamines can cause “a bump in weight,” he says.
Add steroids and testosterone-boosting drugs or supplements to that list, Cheskin says. These drugs act on your hormones, which could certainly spur a sudden weight increase. That includes OTC or internet-order supplements, he adds. It doesn’t have to come from your PCP’s prescription pad in order to be a pounds-adding culprit.
You’re Eating More Than You Realize
This one may seem obvious. But people don’t realize how quickly it can happen. If you’ve been boosting your calorie count consistently for a month or two, you could even see a five or ten-pound increase in weight, Cheskin says.
It’s important to recognize that these changes can be subtle. Maybe you’ve started doing weekly happy hours. Or maybe you bought new dishware, and so your portion sizes have increased without you realizing it. “If you’re eating just 500 calories more a week, over time that can add up,” he says.
You Switched to a Higher Carbohydrate Diet
If you switch from an extremely low-carb plan, like keto, to a diet that contains more grains and starches, you’ll immediately notice a difference on the scale. That’s because carbs are stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen. Each gram of glycogen contains about three grams of water, meaning that a plate of pasta will store extra water in your tissues.
You Recently Lost Weight
It would be really, really nice if lost weight stayed lost. But just the opposite is true.
“Our body weight and body fat are tightly regulated, and [our system] will act to maintain balance,” Butsch says. Put another way, any pounds you manage to drop are likely to return—even if you keep up your weight-loss routines, he adds.
So if you recently dropped some weight, it’s very likely that you’ll put some of it back on—regardless of how much you’re eating or exercising.
You Have an Endocrine Disorder
Roughly one in five adults has an underactive thyroid—also known as hypothyroidism—according to the National Institutes of Health. While this condition is much more common in women, Cheskin says plenty of men experience hypothyroidism, which can cause sudden and significant weight gain.
While less typical, some other hormone disorders—namely, Cushing’s disease—can also cause weight gain, Butsch says. If you have one of these endocrine disorders, weight gain probably won’t be your only symptom, he adds. Fatigue, weakness, headaches, problems thinking, and depression or irritability are all signs of these hormone disorders, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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