If the number on the scale is rising, it may be time to take a closer look at your lifestyle. Here are five surprising ways you can gain weight
1. Surprising ways you can gain weight: taking antibiotics
It’s not uncommon to get a prescription for antibiotics when you’re dealing with an infection. But could the pills you’re taking make you gain weight? In a recent study at Emory University in Atlanta, researchers observed a link between intestinal bacteria and weight gain in lab mice.
Researchers found that mice that were bred without a certain protein that regulates intestinal bacteria were heavier than the mice that did have the protein. The study’s researchers point to antibiotics as one of the factors that could cause such changes in intestinal bacteria in humans, according to reports.
2. Constantly dealing with stress
If your job leaves you feeling stressed, you stand an even greater chance of packing on extra pounds, thanks to a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is released in your body as a response to stress, and if your cortisol level is chronically elevated, it can lead to an increase in stubborn abdominal fat.
To keep your cortisol levels under control, it can be helpful to find activities that help to relieve stress, like practising yoga or meditation.
3. Following the crowd
Your friends can help you lose weight, it’s true-but they can also help you gain it. Out to dinner together at a restaurant? If your friends are all indulging in a decadent dessert, you are more likely to ditch your diet and follow suit.
According to researchers at Harvard’s Medical School and the University of California San Diego, a person’s chances of becoming obese were greatly influenced by the weight gain of a friend or family member.
Why not be a healthy role model for your inner circle? Try starting a weight-loss group or choosinghealthy menu items when you’re out for dinner. Your friends-and your waistline-will be better for it.
4. Pesticides and food additives
Pesticides in produce, along with preservatives and additives in various meat products, can mess with your body’s natural composition, researchers have found. This can throw your hormones out of whack and may cause you to gain weight.
Bruce Blumberg, a biologist at the University of California, refers to these hormone-disrupting chemicals as “obesogens,” and has been studying their impact on weight gain and obesity.
“The causes of obesity are very complex, but if you travel to other places in the world, you’ll notice that this epidemic is predominantly [North] American,” Blumberg said in a news release. “Elsewhere, the consumption of prepackaged foods is much lower, food is grown and eaten locally, and people are far less exposed to food additives and chemicals. These are all contributing factors.”
5. Eating “diet” foods
Think you’re being weight-conscious by sipping on a diet soda? Think again. As it turns out, the artificial sweeteners used in many diet and “fat-free” foods may actually interfere with your weight-loss goals.
Researchers at Purdue University found that lab mice who ate a diet of artifically sweetened yogurt consumed more calories and gained more weight over a two-week period than those who ate yogurt with a natural sweetener added.
For a healthier way to sweeten your food, try honey or maple syrup—in moderation, of course.