10+ Surprising Reasons For Weight Gain: Stress, Dehydration And More

by John Griffith

It can be very frustrating when you feel like you’ve been doing everything right, and you’re still gaining weight. Even if you are not on a weight loss journey and just trying to maintain your weight. You’ve been eating all the right foods, doing all the best exercises, yet when you step on the scale, the numbers keep on growing and growing. Sometimes the reasons for weight gain aren’t as simple as they seem. There are plenty of factors that can cause unintentional weight gain. It may be due to certain medications or do to stress in your daily life. It’s best to take a step back and see what may be going wrong in your routine. Today we will take a look at 10+ surprising reasons you may be gaining pounds instead of shedding them.

Sometimes the reasons for weight gain aren’t as simple as they seem

woman with painted toe nails stepping on a scale

Reasons For Weight Gain

Experiencing fluctuations in weight is completely normal, as well as gaining weight over a long period of time. If your weight gain is sudden, here are some of the reasons that may be causing it, other than taking in more calories.

Experiencing fluctuations in weight is completely normal

reasons for weight gain a hand holding yellow measuring tape


Everybody handles stress differently. However, when the body is under stress it goes into a flight-or-fight mode. It receives a surge of cortisol alongside adrenalin. These hormones are supposed to help the body restore its energy levels and store fat. This means that the more you are stressed the more your body tries to store fat, leading to weight gain. Not only that, but many people under stress turn to food as a way of coping. This creates a cycle of overeating while the body is still storing fat. That’s why you should try to create less stressful rituals.

Everybody handles stress differently

woman with blonde hair stressing over computer and papers

Lack Of Sleep

Sleep is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that people who get less than seven hours of sleep are much more likely to become overweight than people who sleep more than nine hours. This is because the less sleep you’ve had the more the levels of leptin in the body are reduced. Leptin helps the body feel fuller for longer. Whereas if you’re under slept, the body creates higher levels of ghrelin. This hormone stimulates hunger and makes you reach for snacks that are higher in sugar and in calories in order to keep your energy levels high and running.  And since you are constantly tired and constantly reaching for chocolate bars, this will consequently lead to weight gain. Add some plants in your bedroom to help you sleep better.

You need sleep in order to live a healthy life

woman holding white sheet on half of face with eyes wide open

Eating Too Much “Healthy Foods”

This is a common mistake. Just because something is considered “healthy” it doesn’t mean, you cannot overeat on it. Foods we consider good for us such as nuts, protein bars, avocado toasts, hummus, cauliflower rice, smoothies and so on still have a lot of calories. While in moderation they can provide the body with great nutrients, when consumed too much off, they lead to a higher than the daily needed amount of calories. Too many calories in and not enough calories out will lead to weight gain.

You can still overeat on “healthy” foods

black woman in green top preparing healthy snack

Liquid Calories

While we constantly track our food calories, we don’t often stop to think about how many calories there are in our drinks. Liquid calories are still calories and just because they come in liquid form doesn’t mean they cannot lead to weight gain. All those after work cocktails, lattes, macchiatos, smoothies, and soda’s add up way more than you may think. Sometimes these drinks have as many calories as a whole meal. Try to drink your coffee black, or skip out on the cocktails after work.

Liquid calories are still calories

a cocktail in a round glass

No Portion Control

Portion control is just as important as what you eat. As we mentioned, even the healthiest of foods can lead to weight gain if eaten in excess. That’s why learning to portion control is necessary. No matter if you are consuming healthy or not so healthy foods, check out what the recommended serving size it. For example, the serving size for pasta or rice is around the size of your fist. Sticking to the correct serving amounts can help any sudden weight gain.

The perfect plate portion 

the perfect plate portions infographic

Too Much Exercise

There is a thing as too much exercise. While working out is an essential part of losing and maintaining a healthy weight, if you are overdoing it may be making it harder to lose weight. Another problem that occurs is that people tend to overestimate how many calories they have burned when exercising and then end up eating more calories afterwards. Overworking out means you don’t give your body enough time to rest and repair the muscle tear. If your body is constantly trying to repair the body it will try to hold onto any fat it can, which means you may be gaining weight instead of losing any.

There is a thing as too much exercise

man running on the treadmills


Studies have found that drinking just two glasses of water before a meal can help the weight loss process go along quicker. That means that the less water you drink, the slower the process will go, and you may be even gaining weight. Not drinking enough water throughout the day may cause us to eat an excess of calories. Not only that but when the body is dehydrated it will try to conserve as much water as it can. This means that you will feel more bloated, and the numbers on the scales will seem more. Make sure to sip on water throughout the whole day and go for foods that are rich in water as well.

The less water you drink, the slower the process will go

reasons for weight gain woman holding a glass of water

Skipping Meals

Skipping meals creates a bad cycle. When you regularly skip meals, this leads to overeating later on in the day. This has a negative impact onto your metabolism. It’s better to eat regularly throughout the day and snack on healthier options rather than not eating at all. The hungrier you are, the worse decisions you tend to make when you actually do get to food.

Skipping meals creates a bad cycle

why am i gaining weight sad face on white plate with pink background

Low Fiber Intake

Fiber is very important for a healthy gut. Foods that are high in fiber help keep you feeling satisfied for longer to keep the hunger at bay. This helps you maintain a healthy weight. Foods that are naturally high in fiber are often also high in water and low in calories. Some of these foods include beans, raspberries, chickpeas, parsnips and so on. There is plenty of choice. Start implementing more of these foods into your diet to help you feel fuller for longer and reduce the need for snacking throughout the day that is one of the main reasons for weight gain.

Foods that are high in fiber help keep you feeling satisfied

foods high on fiber pasta fruits and veggies

Fast Eating

Eating way too fast can cause you to gain weight. This is because it takes the human body around twenty minutes to realize it is full when eating. The faster you eat, the more you’ll eat before the body manages to message you to stop. This results in a higher calorie intake and leads to unconscious weight gain. Make an effort to chew more and eat slower, don’t go for another spoonful if you haven’t chewed and swallowed the current mouthful. Try to understand why you are eating so fast, and you’ll figure out how to slow down.

Eating way too fast can cause you to gain weight

weight gain woman eating a big taco


Some other reasons you may be gaining weight can include being too distracted while you eat, such as watching TV, which will cause you to eat more. You may be taking certain medication, such as allergy medication. The time you eat is also important. If you have the habit of snacking past midnight, this may be a reason you’re gaining weight. Eating out way too much or relying on takeout can also cause weight gain. This is because restaurants cook with much more fats and butter than you would do at home.

Eating late and in front of the TV causes you to overeat

woman in front of tv eating popcorn late at night

These were just some reasons for weight gain. Making even the smallest of changes in your everyday life can lead to a significant difference. However, if you feel like none of these apply to you, some underlying medical conditions may be the reason for this sudden weight gain. Make sure to speak with a medical professional about what’s bothering you.

Making even the smallest of changes in your everyday life can lead to a significant difference

woman in black pants using a yellow meter around hips

John Griffith

John Griffith is a young, passionate journalist. Writing has been John’s hobby ever since he was a boy. He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful news portals over the course of his professional career but found his forever home at Archzine.