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Surprising reasons you're gaining weight

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

It's pretty galling to see the scales creep up on you when you can’t think of a reason why.

You're eating the same food, doing the same exercise, but still the weight's going on.

There are plenty of explanations that you may not have thought of:

Lack of sleep

If you're not having enough sleep it could be making you hungrier.

A number of studies suggest that people who don't get enough sleep are more likely to put on weight.

Research in Tokyo in 2012 looking at the data of more than 20,000 people found that men and women who slept for less than five hours a night were more likely to experience weight gain than those who slept for seven hours.

"If you are awake for longer in a day it's more likely you'll eat maybe four or five meals and snacks rather than just the usual three if you have a full night's sleep," says Liz Tucker, nutritionist and author of Why No Weight Loss?

She says: "If you have a lack of sleep you have low energy so crave food to top up your energy levels."

'Diet meals'

You may be focused on your weight and pick the low-fat options but sometimes these are high in sugar so may be more calorific than you think.

"Even if you are having lots of diet foods and not many treats you may still be having too many calories," says Perryn Carroll a specialist obesity dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.

Her advice is to know your way around a food label and take notice of the calories.

Liz says she sees a lot of what she calls double-dieting.

"People convince themselves they're on a diet, have a salad box for lunch then feel unsatisfied so have a cake but tend to blot that out and still persuade themselves they're watching their weight."

She says diet food comes in small portions so people often have to have something else to fill themselves up, which defeats the object.

Distracted eating

Sometimes we eat mindlessly, we don't even realise we're doing it.

You may be watching a DVD with a hand constantly dipping into a bag of popcorn and then realise it's all gone and surprise, surprise you've eaten it all. Another classic is eating lunch while you are working at your computer or checking emails. You don't savour the food and hardly notice you've had an actual meal.

"A food diary is a good way of keeping track of what you eat. There are plenty of good diet apps which allow you to take notice of your food intake - a bit like your financial debits and credits," says Perryn.

Liz is more cynical, she says 80% of the food diaries she sees aren't completely true.

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