10 Surprising Reasons Why You’ve Gained Weight

  • As well as burning fewer calories after meals, studies have shown that clashing couples are also more likely to overeat. “There is a high correlation between a person’s mood and what they eat, and this is why diets alone don’t work long term as many people need help learning how to manage their mindset and behaviour in a more productive way,” says health and lifestyle expert Claire Hegarty (clairehegarty.co.uk), a certified trainer in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnotherapy. “When a person is stressed they often turn to ‘something’ to make them feel better in the moment and for many that ‘something’ is food.”

  • Slim solution
    “Explore what’s causing your stress or low mood – the key to long term healthy weight loss is learning how to break out of these cycles,” says Hegarty. “Techniques such as NLP and hypnotherapy are very effective.”

  • Water is a dirt-cheap dieting aid, with studies showing people who drink two 250ml glasses of water 30 minutes before each meal lose 5lb more weight. “Dehydration can also lead you to eat when you really need liquid intake,” says nutritional therapist Chana Nichtburg (chananutrition.com).

  • Slim solution
    “Keeping track of the amount you drink during the day will help stop overeating,” says Nichtburg. “If you feel hungry after or between meals, drink a glass of water – chances are you won’t feel hungry any more.”

  • Lack of shut-eye can lead your body to produce a hormone that makes you feel permanently peckish, when in fact you’re just pooped. “There’s a lot of research that shows people who get good quality sleep lose weight more easily than those that don’t,” says Hegarty. “When someone isn’t sleeping well, they lack energy and motivation and are more likely to grab the quickest snack food they can find.”

  • Slim solution
    “Minimise stimulation by cutting out sugary, caffeinated drinks, and electrical equipment, at least five hours before sleep,” says Hegarty. “And if you have thoughts on your mind, write them down and do a mental ‘download’ before bed.”

  • Research has shown those wearing trackers tend to overestimate calorie-burn after exercise and eat more while working out, which can cause water retention that alters your weight. “Estimates on CV machines and trackers are partly to blame as they can often be inaccurate,” says celebrity fitness trainer Laura Williams (laurawilliamsonline.co.uk). “Lack of awareness about what’s in your post-workout snack can be an issue too.”

  • Slim solution
    “If you eat after exercise, ensure your snack contains a good amount of protein and carbs without breaking the calorie bank. A wholegrain salmon sandwich ticks multiple nutrient boxes; a blueberry muffin with your latte doesn’t!” she says.

  • Some mueslis and cereals contain an eyepopping 18g of sugar per bowl, spiking blood sugar levels and making you more likely to eat again before lunch.

  • Slim solution
    Go for protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates such eggs, avocado, and smoked salmon. “These keep sugar levels stable and keep you satiated,” says nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner Helen Williams (thefunctionalnutritionclinic.com). “Protein may also slightly boost your metabolism as your body uses more calories to break down protein than carbs.”

  • Diuretic parsley is much more than just a garnish: it kickstarts weight loss by making you pee more (thus expelling water weight), aiding digestion (boosting the burn) and suppressing hunger.

  • Slim solution
    “Chop parsley into salads or soup,” says nutritional therapist Nichtburg. “The parsley’s nutrients will automatically leak into the soup.”

  • Stress triggers hormones that increase appetite, which equals extra helpings at mealtimes!
    “The body produces cortisol, which gives us the energy to ‘fight or flee’,” says Helen Williams. “This was fine when we were being chased by sabre tooth tigers, but being constantly taxed by modern day stressors can chronically elevate cortisol, which makes cells resistant to the glucose storage effect of insulin leading to sugar cravings. It also reduces our ability to burn fat and makes us store more fat.”

  • Slim solution
    “Planning ahead is key so you have a healthy option to hand and don’t go for a quick fix,” she says.

  • Tuck in while distracted and you’ll eat more overall because the signals to your brain are interrupted.

  • Slim solution
    “Take time to eat away from TV, laptops and phones,” says Chloe Manlay, nutritional therapist and yoga teacher (chloemanlay.com)). “Aim for at least 15 minutes per meal, giving yourself time to chew and sit and digest. Smelling and enjoying your food calms the nervous system, helps increase body awareness and promotes better food choices in the long run.”

  • Weight fluctuates over 24hrs so tipping the scales more than once a day will not give an accurate log of gains and losses.

  • Slim solution
    “Weigh yourself first thing before you get dressed, and around twice a week,” says Laura Williams. “Stay away from the scales if you’re feeling ‘puffy’ as water retention can have an effect, and if you find yourself becoming obsessive cut back.”

  • Taking a break can calm the nervous system and de-stress, leading to better overall wellbeing and less over eating. And as long your tea of choice is not a builder’s brew i.e. strong and sugary, a good cuppa can has many positive impacts on weight loss.

  • Slim solution
    “Catechins in green tea have the effect of fat-blasting, triggering the release of fat from fat cells and speeding up the liver’s capacity to turn fat into energy,” says Nichtburg “Mint tea will also suppress appetite.”

Fit or fat foods?

Think you’re a martyr swapping a chocolate bar for the salad bar? Maybe not! Read between the food label lines and you’ll find that some seemingly healthy foods are actually packed full of hidden nasties…

Energy bars

Beware the ‘ose’ (glucose, maltose, dextrose, sucrose etc). Those marketed as low fat, can be packed with scale-swelling sugars.

Tinned fruit

While it’s a much better option than a slab of cheesecake, fruits marinated in sugary syrups can contain up to 70 calories per 100g and 17g sugar.


Saintly, right? Wrong. Researchers from Which? Magazine found some pre-packed salads and dressings notch up more than 800 calories and 40g fat – beating a Big Mac and fries!

Diet drinks

They may be low in sugar but calorie-free fizzy drinks have been shown to actually increase cravings and contribute to weight gain.


A single 100g bar of toffee flapjack will contain as much as 450 calories!

Shop-bought sarnies

Some subs can tot up a whopping 900 calories and, lavished with mayonnaise, as much as 9g fat per 100g.

Health & Wellbeing