Reasons You May Be Gaining Weight

Digital Bathroom Scale Displaying OMG Message

It May Not Just Be Your Food Intake

If you started taking in more calories than usual, or increase your high GI foods, or cut back on exercise, you wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers on the scale crept higher. Just remember that scales aren’t an accurate assessment of body fat and that muscle does weigh more that fat. It is the waist size that is the true measurement we want people to focus on. We should be more worried about waist gain, rather than weight gain.  But what if you’re doing everything the same as you always do, and your weight still goes up? It’s time to delve a little deeper into what else might be going on.

Lack of Sleep

There are two things that can affect your when you aren’t getting enough sleep and may have an impact on weight gain. First, if you’re up late, the odds are greater that you’re doing some late-night snacking, which means more intake of foods that may not be appropriate. The other reason involves what’s going on in your body when you’re sleep-deprived. This leads to running on adrenalin and increased cortisol levels as well. Changes in hormone levels increase hunger and appetite and also make you feel not as full after eating.

Stress

When life’s demands get too intense, our bodies go into survival mode. That fight or flight response kicks in and adrenalin and Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” is secreted, which causes an increase in appetite. Cortisol also makes you store fat. And of course, we may reach for high-calorie comfort foods in times of stress as well. This combination is a perfect breeding ground for weight gain.

Antidepressants and other Medications

An unfortunate side effect from some antidepressants is weight gain. Most antidepressants will give people a weight gain of around 3kgs per year of taking them. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about making changes to your treatment plan if you think your antidepressant is causing weight gain. There are natural options that can help with depression, without all the side effects. But never stop or change your medication on your own. Realize that some people experience weight gain after beginning drug treatment simply because they’re feeling better, which leads to a better appetite. Also, depression itself can cause changes in weight.

Steroids and Hormones

Anti-inflammatory steroid medications like prednisone are notorious for causing weight gain. All of the fertility hormones and hormone replacement drugs are steroidal based and cause weight gain too. Fluid retention and increased appetite are the main reasons. Some people may also see a temporary change in where their body holds fat while taking steroids.  Places like the face, the belly, or the back of the neck are all areas where you can see increase fluid retention. If you’ve taken steroids for more than a week, don’t stop them abruptly. That can lead to serious problems. They need to be tapered down slowly and weaned off properly. Check with your doctor first. Drugs That May Cause Weight Gain.

Several other prescription drugs are linked to weight gain. The list includes antipsychotic drugs (used to treat disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), along with medications to treat migraines, seizures, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Work with your doctor to find a medication that treats your symptoms and lessens side effects.

The Contraceptive Pill

Combination birth control pills (estrogen and progestin) do weight gain and fluid retention. There are other contraceptive methods that do not cause weight gain and fluid retention and have lower side effect profiles. If you’re still concerned about possible weight gain, talk to your healthcare practitioner.

Thyroid Issues

Thyroid issues can definitely be a big factor in weight gain. If your thyroid (the butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck) is not making enough thyroid hormone, you’re probably feeling tired, weak, and cold, and gaining weight. Without enough thyroid hormone, your metabolism slows, making weight gain more likely. Even a thyroid functioning at the lower end of the normal range might cause weight gain. Treating hypothyroidism with medication may reverse some of the weight gain.

Menopause

Most women do gain some weight around the time of menopause, but hormones probably aren’t the only cause. Aging slows your metabolism, so you burn fewer calories. We need women to realise this reality, which isn’t always easy to accept. Changes in lifestyle (such as exercising less) play a role in weight and waist gain. But where you gain weight may be related to menopause, with fat accumulating around your waist more than your hips and thighs. There are ways to control this in menopause too.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Weight gain is a common symptom of Cushing’s syndrome, a condition in which you are exposed to too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn causes weight gain and other abnormalities. You can get Cushing’s syndrome if you take steroids for asthma, arthritis, or lupus. It can also happen when your adrenal glands make too much cortisol, or it could be related to a tumor. The weight gain may be most prominent around the face, neck, upper back, or waist.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a common hormonal problem in all women of childbearing age. It is the most common gynaecological disorder in women and is becoming more prevalent due to our high GI diets and being passed on through genetic and hereditary link. Some women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries, some do not and only have the syndrome and associated symptoms. The condition leads to hormone imbalances that affect a woman’s menstrual cycle and can lead to extra body hair and acne. Women with this condition are resistant to insulin (the hormone that controls blood sugar), so it may cause weight gain. Many women with PCOS are normal, or underweight too. Women with PCOS are also at higher risk of diabetes. The weight tends to collect around the belly, putting these women at greater risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. When you quit, you may gain some weight, but perhaps less than you think. On average, people who stop smoking gain less than 10 kilograms. You should stop feeling hungrier after several weeks, which will make it easier to help lose any weight you gained.

Rules If You Do Gain Weight

Rule 1:

Don’t stop taking any medications without first consulting your doctor. Recognize the importance of the drug you’re taking. It may be critical to your health. Also, something else may be causing you to gain weight. Your doctor can help you figure out what’s going on. There are also natural options that you may take also.

Rule 2:

Don’t compare yourself to other people taking the same drug. Not all people experience the same side effects on the same drug. Even if a drug caused someone else to lose weight, the same might not be true for you. Please do not Dr Google, or take advice off anyone other than a qualified healthcare professional.

Rule 3:

Remember that if the weight gain is just from water retention, it’s not permanent weight or fat. Once you’re done taking the drug or your condition is under control, the puffiness from fluid retention may ease. Stick to a lower GI diet in the meantime too. High GI foods such as breads, cereals, cakes, pasta, sugars etc, all make the body store fats and stop the burning of fats and cause inflammation.

Rule 4:

Check with your healthcare practitioner about another medication you can take. In many cases, your healthcare practitioner can switch you to another medication that might not have the same side effects. There are also natural options that you may be able to take without all the nasty side effects of your medication

Rule 5:

Learn if the weight gain is from a decrease in metabolism — from either a medical condition or medication. And if so, take the time to participate in metabolism-raising activities. Get moving!

Also realise that it is waist gain you need to worry about, not weight gain. Many people obsess unnecessarily over weight gain and the scales. When you start to exercise, you may in fact be putting on muscle (which is great) and this will equate to the scales being heavier. Fat does not weigh as much as muscle, so sometimes you wont realise you have actually lost fat and gained muscle. This is why waist measurement, not weight measurement, is the most accurate way to measure proper fat lose and proper waist and weight management.

fat-versus-muscle-1

 

A kilo of fat, versus a kilo of muscle

 

 

At Shen Therapies we can help you with weight management and more importantly waist management. We have specially tailored fat loss and weight loss programs to help you burn fats, increase muscle and do weight loss the correct way.

If you want to get healthy, feel great and look great for summer and years to come, please give the clinic a call and book in for a consultation.

 

 

Could your health issues be coming from your Thyroid?

E5PRGR Doctor examining the thyroid gland of a patient.

Thyroid issues are common, especially in women and especially if there is a family history of thyroid disorders in your family. When your thyroid goes out of balance, it can cause all sorts of symptoms and issues in your body. You need to know what to look for.

When Your Thyroid Goes Awry

Does fatigue drag you down day after day? Do you have brain fog, weight gain, chills, or hair loss? Or is the opposite true for you: Are you often revved up, sweaty, or anxious? Your thyroid gland could be to blame. This great regulator of body and mind sometimes goes haywire, particularly in women. Pregnancy and post partum is when it can also go haywire too. Getting the right treatment is critical to feel your best and avoid serious health problems.

What Is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control the speed of your metabolism — the system that helps the body use energy. Thyroid disorders can slow down or rev up metabolism by disrupting the production of thyroid hormones. When hormone levels become too low or too high, you may experience a wide range of symptoms.

Symptom: Weight Gain or Loss

An unexplained change in weight is one of the most common signs of a thyroid disorder. Weight gain may signal low levels of thyroid hormones, a condition called hypothyroidism. In contrast, if the thyroid produces more hormones than the body needs, you may lose weight unexpectedly. This is known as hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is far more common.

Symptom: Swelling in the Neck

A swelling or enlargement in the neck is a visible clue that something may be wrong with the thyroid. A goiter may occur with either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Sometimes swelling in the neck can result from thyroid cancer or nodules, lumps that grow inside the thyroid. It can also be due to a cause unrelated to the thyroid.

Symptom: Changes in Heart Rate

Thyroid hormones affect nearly every organ in the body and can influence how quickly the heart beats. People with hypothyroidism may notice their heart rate is slower than usual. Hyperthyroidism may cause the heart to speed up. It can also trigger increased blood pressure and the sensation of a pounding heart, or other types of heart palpitations.

Symptom: Changes in Energy or Mood

Thyroid disorders can have a noticeable impact on your energy level and mood. Hypothyroidism tends to make people feel tired, sluggish, and depressed. Hyperthyroidism can cause anxiety, problems sleeping, restlessness, and irritability.

Symptom: Hair Loss

Hair loss is another sign that thyroid hormones may be out of balance. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair to fall out. In most cases, the hair will grow back once the thyroid disorder is treated.

Symptom: Feeling Too Cold or Hot

Thyroid disorders can disrupt the ability to regulate body temperature. People with hypothyroidism may feel cold more often than usual. Hyperthyroidism tends to have the opposite effect, causing excessive sweating and an aversion to heat.

Other Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism can cause many other symptoms, including:

  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands
  • Constipation
  • Abnormal menstrual periods

Other Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can also cause additional symptoms, such as:

  • Muscle weakness or trembling hands
  • Vision problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular menstrual periods

Thyroid Disorder or Menopause?

Because thyroid disorders can cause changes in menstrual cycle and mood, the symptoms are sometimes mistaken for menopause. If a thyroid problem is suspected, a simple blood test can determine whether the true culprit is menopause or a thyroid disorder — or a combination of the two.

Who Should Be Tested?

If you think you have symptoms of a thyroid problem, ask your doctor if you should be tested. People with symptoms or risk factors may need tests more often. Hypothyroidism more frequently affects women over age 60. Hyperthyroidism is also more common in women. A family history raises your risk of either disorder.

Thyroid Neck Check

A careful look in the mirror may help you spot an enlarged thyroid that needs a doctor’s attention. Tip your head back, take a drink of water, and as you swallow, examine your neck below the Adam’s apple and above the collarbone. Look for bulges or protrusions, then repeat the process a few times. See a doctor promptly if you see a bulge or lump.

Diagnosing Thyroid Disorders

If your doctor suspects a thyroid disorder, a blood test can help provide an answer. This test measures the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), a kind of master hormone that regulates the work of the thyroid gland. If TSH is high, it typically means that your thyroid function is too low (hypothyroid). If TSH is low, then it generally means the thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroid.) But just measuring TSH levels is not enough. People with thyroid disorders can have normal TSH levels and the other thyroid hormone levels and this is why thyroid antibody testing is probably the most important testing to be done. High thyroid antibodies mean you have a thyroid condition and your thyroid gland is under attack. Hopefully doctor will want to check all the other thyroid hormones in your blood. If he/she doesn’t, make sure they do. They should always check TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3 and Thyroid antibodies. In some cases, imaging studies are used and biopsies are taken to evaluate a thyroid abnormality.

Hashimoto’s Disease

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland. The result is damage to the thyroid, preventing it from producing enough hormones. Hashimoto’s disease tends to run in families. This is why thyroid antibodies needs to be checked because people with Hashimotos disease can actually have normal TSH levels and normal Free T3, Free T4 and reverse T3 levels.

Other Causes of Hypothyroidism

In some cases, hypothyroidism results from a problem with the pituitary gland, which is at the base of the brain. This gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid to do its job. If your pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH, levels of thyroid hormones will fall. Other causes of hypothyroidism include temporary inflammation of the thyroid or medications that affect thyroid function.

Graves’ Disease

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease. This is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid gland and triggers the release of high levels of thyroid hormones. One of the hallmarks of Graves’ disease is a visible and uncomfortable swelling behind the eyes. Again this is why testing thyroid antibodies is so important.

Other Causes of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can also result from thyroid nodules. These are lumps that develop inside the thyroid and sometimes begin producing thyroid hormones. Large lumps may create a noticeable goiter. Smaller lumps can be detected with ultrasound. A thyroid uptake and scan can tell if the lump is producing too much thyroid hormone.

Thyroid Disorder Complications

When left untreated, hypothyroidism can raise cholesterol levels and make you more likely to have a stroke or heart attack. In severe cases, very low levels of thyroid hormones can trigger a loss of consciousness and life-threatening drop in body temperature. Untreated hyperthyroidism can cause serious heart problems and brittle bones.

Treating Hypothyroidism

If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your doctor will most likely prescribe thyroid hormones in the form of a pill. This usually leads to noticeable improvements within a couple of weeks. Long-term treatment can result in more energy, lower cholesterol levels, and gradual weight loss. Most people with hypothyroidism will need to take thyroid hormones for the rest of their lives.

Treating Hyperthyroidism

The most common treatment for hyperthyroidism is antithyroid medication, which aims to lower the amount of hormones produced by the thyroid. The condition may eventually go away, but many people need to remain on medication for the long term. Other drugs may be given to reduce symptoms such as rapid pulse and tremors. Another option is radioactive iodine, which destroys the thyroid gland over the course of 6 to 18 weeks. Once the gland is destroyed, or removed by surgery, most patients must begin taking thyroid hormones in pill form.

Surgery for Thyroid Disorders

Removing the thyroid gland can cure hyperthyroidism, but the procedure is only recommended if antithyroid drugs don’t work, or if there is a large goiter. Surgery may also be recommended for patients with thyroid nodules. Once the thyroid is removed, most patients require daily supplements of thyroid hormones to avoid developing hypothyroidism.

What About Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer is uncommon and is among the least deadly. The good thing with thyroid cancer is that it is encapsulated, so it won’t spread. Once the thyroid gland is removed, the cancer is removed also. The main symptom is a lump or swelling in the neck, and only about 5% of thyroid nodules turn out to be cancerous. When thyroid cancer is diagnosed, it is most often treated with surgery followed by radioactive iodine therapy or, in some cases, external radiation therapy

Complementary Medicine For Thyroid Issues

There are many complementary medicines that can assist thyroid issues and Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine has successfully treated thyroid disorders for centuries. There are also supplements and other herbal medicine to assist thyroid function, or balancing the thyroid hormones. Diet and lifestyle changes are also very important for thyroid health, as is working on the gut to reduce inflammation in the body and assist the immune system as well. There are also compounded natural thyroid medications we can discuss with you also

At Shen Therapies, we specialise in all hormone issues and can help you with thyroid testing, blood tests etc  and thyroid management.