5 Surprising Reasons You're Gaining Weight

Extra calories may not be the only cause of weight gain.

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

It's no mystery that a diet full of fried foods, giant portions, decadent desserts, alcohol, and sugary soft drinks will lead to weight gain. And there's little question why the pounds pile up when you take in more calories than you burn in physical activity. But how do you explain weight gain when your lifestyle includes regular exercise and a healthy diet that is controlled in calories? Gaining weight is absolutely maddening, especially when you really don't understand why the needle on the scale keeps going up.

Several things should be considered if you are gaining weight while watching calories and being physically active. More than likely, it's a variety of things working together that have resulted in the weight gain.

"Weight gain is so complicated; there are so many factors that can impact your weight. It is more likely a combination of things more than just one factor," explains Michelle May, MD, author of Am I Hungry? What to Do When Diets Don't Work.

Here are five factors that can cause the scale to creep up when you least expect it:

1. You Might Be Gaining Weight Because of Lack of Sleep

The body functions best when well rested. "When you don't get enough sleep, your body experiences physiological stress and, biochemically, you store fat more efficiently," says May.