Top Causes of Female Weight Gain + 8 weight Gain Triggers & Solutions 

There are countless reasons why women gain weight but these reasons have little to do with genetics, body type, age, or socioeconomic status. There are actually 6 serious causes of female weight gain that are triggered by 8 common changes that women experience in their lives.  The great news is that no matter what you're going through in life you CAN lose the fat and keep it off as you get older.   

Top 6 Causes of Female Weight Gain

Sleep Deprivation - Studies show that getting less than 8 hours of sleep a night impairs your ability to process glucose and could make you insulin resistant; a condition that is closely tied to obesity.  Not getting your sleep decreases your levels of leptin, the satiety hormone, and increases your level or cortisol, the fat storage hormone.  This leads to intense cravings for starchy carbs and sweets that end up getting stored as fat.  To make matters worst sleep deprivation also affects growth hormone levels, which regulates your body’s muscle to fat ratio.  Female Weight Gain Solution:  If you want to prevent this experts suggest you get at least 30 min. a day of sunlight, which resets your inner alarm clock to fall asleep at the right time.  You should also cut out caffeine, nicotine, chocolate, and alcohol in the evening and make your bedroom comfortable and dark.  These conditions are better for getting the sleep you need in order to burn more fat and lose more weight. 

Toxic Stress - Research findings suggest that women under high levels of stress were more likely to have extra fat around their midsections, which has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancer.  This is because stress triggers the flight or fight response that increases levels of cortisol, which stimulates deep abdominal fat cells to accept and store fat.  Cortisol also increases appetite especially for sweets and carbs.  So not only does stress make you eat more but what you do eat gets stored as fat deep in the belly.  Female Weight Gain Solution:  Experts suggest you reduce stress by exercising on a regular basis, getting enough sleep, getting a massage, yoga, having fun with your family, and laughing often.   

Light Deprivation - According to Marie-Annette Brown, Ph.D. at the University of Washington, and author of When Your Body Gets The Blues, 1 out of 4 women suffer from a syndrome she calls The Body Blues.  It’s a problem that is brought on by light deprivation (yes you read that right) and low levels of estrogen, progesterone, and/or testosterone.  The primary symptoms include a tendency to overeat, especially carbs and sweets later in the day, and weight gain.  Other symptoms include: lack of energy, irritability or tension, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, daytime drowsiness, decreased interest in sex, mild anxiety, mild depression.  Female Weight Gain Solution:  Get more bright light by going for a brisk 20 minute outdoor walk 5 times a week, and take a combination of inexpensive vitamins and minerals to reverse the effects of hormonal imbalances and light deprivation. 

Medications - Most medications these days come with dozens of side effects and the most common one among most is weight gain. The worst offenders are steroids, which are often prescribed for asthma, arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease.  Anti-diabetes drugs, the ones prescribed for type II diabetes also have a tendency to make people gain major weight.  Other medications that contribute to weight gain are anti-depressants, and birth control pills but the later is not as much of a problem as some women like to believe.  Female Weight Gain Solution:  Talk to your doctor about other options.  In most cases you can switch to other medications that may not block your weight loss efforts or better yet consult a holistic health expert to get healthy and get off the meds.

Thyroid Issues- “According to research studies, the estimated number of people with undiagnosed thyroid disease may be 10 percent -- a level that is double what was previously thought. This may mean as many as 13 million Americans are currently undiagnosed. Women are at the greatest risk, developing thyroid problems seven times more often than men. A woman faces as high as a one in five chance of developing thyroid problems during her lifetime. That risk increases with age and for those with a family history of thyroid problems” reports thyroid disease expert Mary Shomon.  Female Weight Gain Solution:  Detox your body and restore health with an eating plan that restores hormonal balance like the Anti-Estrogenic Diet or the healthy eating guides from YBFF plans.

Top 8 Female Weight Gain Triggers (what typically triggers the 6 causes above)

1. Birth Control Pills Weight Gain - This may be a young woman's first experience with stubborn fat and losing the same 10 pounds over and over and over. Birth control pills or devices that alter your hormones can actually create lifelong weight issues but this can be prevented with a clean foods healthy eating plan.

2. College Weight Gain - Also known as the Freshman 15 was declared a myth by a new research study but I can tell you from personal experience that it's very real since it happened to me and virtually every female in my dorm. The good news is losing it is easy when you're young.  All you need to do is get regular exercise and eat adequate calories of healthy foods.

3. Illness or Injury Weight Gain - This is often related to decreased activity and/or medications that wreak havoc on your hormones, your digestive system, and/or your sleep cycle. Initially an illness or injury may cause weight loss but once you get treatment and start taking medications the weight gain can be fast and hard to lose especially for women over 50.

4. Job Weight Gain - According to a CareerBuilder survey, " 49% of workers say they've gained weight at their current jobs, 28% of workers have gained more than 10 pounds at his or her present job, while an additional 13 % of employees have gained more than 20 pounds." CNN

5. Newlywed Spread - According to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study "the average newly married woman piles on about 9 extra pounds over five years compared with a single woman"  says Fitness Magazine.  Most relationship weight gain is a case of adopting your man's eating habits and is easily fixed by portion control (your plate should have about 1/3 less food than his, (less if you're petite and he's big).

6. Pregnancy & Post Pregnancy Weight Gain - According to experts the reason so many women struggle with this is they overestimate calorie needs during pregnancy and if nursing. They also tend to get less sleep than they need which can shift the body into a fat storing state.

7. Perimenopause & Menopause Weight Gain - According to my continuing education course on both these topics this type of weight gain is actually optional because unbalanced hormones can become more balanced with a clean healthy foods eating plan, exercise, and in some cases hormone medications. 

8. Life Changing Event Weight Gain - This type of weight gain has more to do with emotional eating brought on by stressful life events such as relationship issues, financial trouble, job or loss of job related stress, family problems, etc. Fortunately the human body is designed to handle high levels of cortisol as long as you're eating super health, getting enough sleep, and exercising daily.

Top 3 Female Weight Gain Triggers Common Among My Clients

Financial Worries - Worried about how to pay for an unexpected medical expenses or home repair? Stressing about how to afford another bridesmaid dress or money for another fundraiser at your work or kid’s school? Financial stress often leads to emotional eating and unhealthy habits that causes weight gain quickly. Female Weight Gain Solution: Prioritize fitness and aim for any type of stress relief exercise for 20-30 min.  This reduces stress and helps you clear your mind so you can focus on finding solutions to your financial problems.  Restorative exercise is also a great way to boost endurance and energy levels and can motivate you to do more challenging workouts on days when you're not feeling so stressed. Example:  A client who was struggling with her business hired me to help exercise all the anxiety out of her body.  We did this with balanced fun workouts that she enjoyed not with hardcore training that stressed her out more.   Both her health and her finances got a boost from her happier outlook.  Get started with the restorative exercises below.  

Injuries or Illness - Getting sick or injured comes with all kinds of added stress including time consuming doctor or physical therapy appointments, medications that cause side effects, loss of sleep, extreme fatigue, or changes in activity level and/or lifestyle. The worst part is that recovering from a serious illness or injury rarely happens quickly and that out of your control feeling often leads to a vicious cycle of anxiety, depression, emotional eating and weight gain.  Female Weight Gain Solution: Accept that life will be different while you’re recovering and commit to getting enough rest and eating healthy foods that will help you heal faster. The more healthy and nutritious your diet the healthier your immune system, the faster your body will repair itself and the faster you can get back to fun fat burning workouts.  Example:  When I was dealing with adrenal fatigue brought on by massive stress of my divorce I had to scale back on exercise intensity and start eating a more organic diet.  That helped me heal so much faster and the fitness results that I got after that were so much better. 

Family or Career Changes - There are many major life changes that can derail your healthy habits including a breakup or divorce, a death in your family, a relative coming to live with you, a career change, longer work days, or unemployment. All these situations can trigger stress and weight gain even if you're normally a super healthy eater who never has trouble sticking to a regular workout routine. Female Weight Gain Solution: Focus on a new hobby, class, or interest. Challenging yourself to try something new boosts confidence and improves your ability to go with the flow or to move in a new better direction with your life.  Example:  One of my clients rented a veggie patch at a community garden and this not only helped her handle the stress of family changes it also improved her eating big time!  The pic above is her daily breakfast made with veggies from her own garden.