Why Do We Gain Weight? | Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach in Kirkland

As Americans we live in a culture of never-ending-weight loss.  At every corner there is a new fad diet, energy pill or way to instantly rid yourself of the unwanted 10, 15 or 20 lbs. of weight.  New research focusing on the ‘why’s’ of weight gain may help the ‘ah-hah’ light go on as you see yourself in one or more of these behavior patterns.  Here are six insights from prominent exercise science professors:

1) Consumption of high calorie foods.  The foods most associated with weight gain over a period of several years were regular consumption of potato chips, potatoes (in all forms ~ especially French fries!); red meat, processed meats (bacon,/lunch meat), and unprocessed red meat (pork/beef). Butter, sweets, and desserts; refined grains (white flour/white rice). Eat a diet with lean meats, fish, fresh fruit, veggies and nuts~ think of the above mentioned foods as ‘treats’, to be had sparingly, and on special occasions. 

2) Sugar Sweetened beverages: Any drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup, or other sugars.  Artificial sweeteners can also promote weight gain. Possibly more alarming is that the sweetened drinks do NOT fill you up, creating hunger instead!

3) Too much or too little sleep:  Less than 7 hours and more than 8 – 8 & ½ hours on a regular basis will definitely lead to weight gain. Once in awhile it’s ok to indulge, such as after a long hike or possibly a late night out ☺

4) Too much TV: Amount of TV time per night is highly associated with weight gain. A rough estimate is 60% of Americans watch more than 2 hrs of TV a night.  One of the big problems is not only are people being couch potatoes, but it’s what else they are doing during that time! Namely snacking, and basically overeating high calorie foods. Recommended amount is no more than l hr. of TV daily.   

5) Alcohol consumption: Alcohol is very energy dense, and is easily converted to body fat, leading to excess calories on any given day. If you drink alcohol, make it a very small part of your lifestyle.  

6)  Being inactive: Scientists studying 15 year trends noticed an interesting relationship between walking and weight gain.  Namely, those that walked on a regular basis were far less likely to gain weight. Recommended amount is 2 – 4 hrs a week.  Adding strength training to the mix is a further bonus! To measure your cardio, make sure you are getting a minimum of 150 mins a week at a ‘somewhat hard’ intensity.

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