Why do we gain weight?

Why do we gain weight?

Is it normal to gain weight?

The sedentary lifestyle imposed by the health crisis that we are experiencing has certainly influenced the weight gain of the French: we have on average he gained 2.5 kilos since the appearance of the coronavirus. Our weight can fluctuate throughout our lives and this is normal – we just need to be careful to stay within a healthy weight.

When you gain weight, each case is unique – it’s up to you to assess what may be causing your weight gain. Are you too sedentary? Is your daily diet unbalanced? Do you feel a drop in morale? Are you taking any treatment or medication? All of these factors can affect your weight. The best way to know if you need to change your habits is to calculate your BMI: the Body Mass Index. This indicator makes it possible to assess the state of the weight thanks to a simple calculation. According to the WHO, a normal BMI should be between 18.5 and 24.9. However, calculating a child’s BMI is different. If you’re worried about being overweight, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.

What are the main causes of weight gain?


With age we exercise less, which translates into a decrease in energy expenditure, a muscle loss and therefore a increased fat mass. Studies have recently shown that age also leads to a change in the lipid processing mechanism: As you age, even when you exercise, Lipids tend to be stored rather than burned by the body..

The middle of life, between 40 and 50 years, is a fundamental stage in the life of a human being. This can be a period during which new worries arise: after 40, children grow up and leave home, and parents get older and have more health problems. This new mental load may cause you to turn to comfort foods.

But the weight gain can also have medical causesso we recommend that you see a doctor to make sure you don’t have more serious conditions, such as thyroid disorders.

Family history

Are we all the same when it comes to gaining weight? Unfortunately not: genetic factors play a role in weight gain and the development of certain types of obesity. Genetics also intervenes in the feeling of hunger, caused by ghrelin, a hormone secreted by the stomach, and satiety. It is also partly responsible for the microbiota and intestinal transit. Thus, for genetic reasons, some people will not be able to lose the expected weight, except by following diets that can be dangerous to their health. Therefore, eating behavior is not always solely responsible for being overweight or obese.. Sometimes you need to be a little more patient and self-indulgent if you have a few extra pounds.

Feeding Habits

snack between meals

You have been told since you were a child: eating food outside of meals tends to make you fat because they constitute a excessive food intake. It is better to eat until you are full during a meal than to multiply snacks, especially if they are based on sugary or fatty products. It is also necessary take time for meals and chew food well, instead of eating mechanically in front of the television or the computer, for example. Chewing and concentrating on the food you eat makes it easier for you to feel full.

skipping meals

Depriving yourself by skipping a meal is not the solution either: when you break your eating rhythm, you break your usual cycle, which has dire consequences for your metabolism. You will no longer be hungry at the right time, and the body will no longer know what to do with the food it receives at the wrong time. Therefore, eating too little can encourage the body to store. In summary, there is no point in starving yourself, on the contrary, the elimination of meals favors weight gain.

Eat low-fat products

There are many low-fat products on supermarket shelves today. But in order for these low-fat or low-sugar foods to maintain their proper appearance or acceptable taste, they contain certain chemicals such as thickeners, gelling agents, or even sweeteners. These additives will modify the microbiota and promote greater fat storage.

overly restrictive diets

The more we ban ourselves, the more we risk breaking down and gaining back more weight than we had lost; this is commonly called the yo yo effect, and what health professionals call cognitive restriction. It is characterized by the alternation of phases of restriction followed by phases of relaxation and/or hyperphagia, which ultimately lead to weight gain.

The key is therefore eat a balanced diet, and above all not too much and not too little : Overeating can make you fat, but not eating enough deprives the body of energy. Our metabolism will slow down to save energy by burning calories more slowly. Upon resuming a normal diet, the body will continue to store calories instead of burning them. Therefore, you must promote a regular and balanced diet, composed of fibers, present in fruits and vegetables, foods rich in protein and low in fat, such as meat, fish and shellfish or even dairy products. As for sugars, ask about the recommended daily intake of sugar.

sedentary lifestyle

L’Physical activity is essential for good health. : protects against cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity. However, we are increasingly sedentary: our transport is motorized, and our professional or leisure activities do not compensate for this inactivity.
From elsewhere, physical inactivity is a factor that favors the appearance of visceral fat. It is the fatty tissue most related to chronic diseases, regardless of body weight.

take certain medications

Certain Medications Can Contribute to Weight Gain : antidepressants, insulin or corticosteroids, which can accentuate the sensation of hunger and favor the appearance of abdominal fat. However, this is not systematic and depends on the profile of each person. On the other hand, often accused of promoting weight gain, Current birth control pills rarely have this effect.. However, some women may be sensitive to the effects of estrogen-progestogens on fat tissue: if you notice that you have gained weight after taking a new contraceptive, tell your gynecologist to find a new contraceptive method.

Please note: Treatments prescribed by healthcare professionals should not be stopped without medical advice. If you think you are gaining weight due to your medication, talk to your doctor: he or she can advise you on alternative treatment or help you adjust your eating habits according to your treatment.

hormonal disorders

Puberty, pregnancy or menopause are periods of hormonal change that can promote weight gain. The same goes for other hormonal disorders, such as thyroid problems. In fact, hypothyroidism has the direct consequence of slowing down metabolism and can contribute to weight gain. It’s easy to diagnose with a TSH test, which your doctor may prescribe if you have other symptoms, such as unusual fatigue or increased sensitivity to cold.

psychological disorders

Mental health can also play a role in creating or maintaining overweight. : stress, anxiety or certain emotions can make you want to eat more “pleasure” foods, or even modify energy expenditure.

People in give up smoking You can also eat more to make up for the loss of nicotine and tobacco intake. If you want to quit smoking, we recommend that you be accompanied by a health professional: they can help you by offering you a program of physical activity or nicotine patches to reduce the side effects of quitting smoking. .

Finally, sleep disorders they also have an impact on our body mass. When the first phase of sleep (slow-deep sleep) is disturbed, the body’s metabolic activity is unable to eliminate fat.

Chronic diseases

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects one in 10 people in France. When you are diabetic, the body no longer properly assimilates the energy provided by carbohydrates from the food you eat. Insulin allows glucose to enter the cells of the body. If you eat too many calories, your cells will get more glucose than they need. This excess turns into fat and can lead to weight gain.

To avoid too large variations in blood sugar, it is important to know what to eat in case of diabetes. Food intake should be divided into 3 meals and a snack, without snacking and without skipping meals.


Some cancer treatments are also the cause of the appearance of being overweight: it is essential to talk to your doctor in order to benefit from monitoring and dietary advice, and to carry out moderate but regular monitoring. In addition, the practice of adequate physical activity increases life expectancy and reduces the risk of recurrence.

Can you gain weight without eating a lot?

Multiple factors can cause the appearance of a few extra kilos. Therefore, you can gain weight without necessarily eating a lot. But we also tend to underestimate our caloric intake: we can forget to have snacked between meals, not knowing the caloric density of a food, or simply eating too much without realizing it.

What foods cause weight gain?

Even if overly fatty, salty or sweet products should be avoided if you want to lose weight, no particular food makes you fat. The key is to balance calorie intake with calorie expenditure and to know which foods are high in energy (calories). It is a high-calorie food that promotes weight gain. On the other hand, the conjunction of rich and not rich products is ideal to maintain a balance: you can, for example, try to replace the fries in your hamburger with green beans or salad.

What to do when you gain weight?

If you notice weight gain that you can’t explain, it is necessary to consult a health professional. He will be able to listen to you and answer your questions, but also prescribe additional tests and tests to check that your weight gain is not the result of a more serious disease, a thyroid problem or associated with diabetes.

Weight gain can also have serious psychological consequences by creating a poor self-image and possible social stigma that can lead to depression. In turn, depressive syndrome can trigger compensatory mechanisms and lead you to eat less healthy comfort foods.

If you want to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way, you should favor a diversified diet, consumed with pleasure and without guilt. The seasonality of fruits and vegetables can help vary intake throughout the year. Finally, do not forget that everyone has preferences: eating fatty or sugary foods that you like is very possible. Simply incorporate them into a healthier diet or adapt them. For example, reduce the amount of sugar in your favorite recipes by half or replace certain fats, such as the butter in your chocolate cake, with almond or courgette puree. Try it, you will be surprised by the result!