Unrecognized Health Issues Resulting in Weight Gain: 12 Hidden Culprits

Everyone knows that the best way to lose weight is to stick to a healthy and balanced diet, while also exercising regularly. Even if you maintain a healthy lifestyle, losing weight can still feel like a struggle. This could be due to a plateau in weight loss, but also underlying health issues that are often undiagnosed.

It’s possible that you are contributing to unwanted weight gain. “It may be invigorating to determine to embark on a weight reduction journey, however it may be extraordinarily irritating when the journey is getting derailed,” says Dr. Anna Cabeca, DO, who’s triple-board-certified in gynecology and obstetrics, integrative medication and anti-aging and regenerative medication. It is true that some people have an easier time losing weight than others.

We asked a team of doctors and dietitians to explain a variety of health issues that may be impeding weight loss. These professionals did not only explain what the issues are, but also how they contribute to a person’s difficulty losing weight and listed some warning signs.

If you are struggling to lose weight or gain weight, it’s likely that you are experiencing these unnoticed health issues. Always consult your physician if you suspect you’re experiencing a medical problem. You will want to read on for more information on how to lose weight.


Cushing’s Syndrome
“Cushing’s Syndrome” is a medical condition where the adrenal glands create an excessive amount cortisol, also known as stress hormone. Dr. Candice seti, PsyD CPT CNC, a licensed scientific psychotherapist, a certified private coach and a certified nutrition coach, explains. This could be the result of prolonged exposure to corticosteroid treatment or a benign tumour on the pituitary. The result of cortisol in any case is a much slower metabolism. Fat tends to accumulate in the face, upper back, and abdomen.”

According to Dr. Seti’s observations, other signs of Cushing syndrome include hypertension, muscle weakness, and pimples. She says that the condition can be treated with either medication or possibly surgery to remove the tumor.

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Persistent Stress
Even a slight increase in cortisol levels over time can cause havoc on your body and hinder your weight loss goals. Many people don’t realize how much stress can affect your physical health, but it could have a significant impact. Most of us lead a pretty stressful life, especially this year with all the things that have happened,” says SaVanna Shoesmaker, MS.

When you are stressed, your body produces higher levels of cortisol. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in short-term situations of stress. This will make you more hungry and allow you to store energy so that you can use it when you need it. Shoemaker says that excessive cortisol is often a problem when you have power anxiety or stress. “It alerts your physique to retailer extra fats (particularly in your midsection) and will improve your meals cravings–particularly for high-calorie consolation meals.”

Stress is a common occurrence, so it can be difficult to determine if stress has an impact on your weight. If you think that stress is preventing you from losing weight, you may want to consult your doctor. Shoemaker says that a doctor can check your cortisol level to determine if you have elevated levels. It’s possible if you are always wired or suffer from an anxiety disorder.


Adrenal Fatigue
Stress can cause adrenal fatigue. This condition includes a number of nonspecific symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue and nervousness. It may also include sleep disturbances and digestive problems. Adrenal fatigue, which is a real problem for women, can be attributed to excessive stress. It may have negative outcomes such as weight gain, sweet cravings, or muscle weakness. Cabeca says that in the early stages of adrenal fatigue weight tends to accumulate in the wrong places and is nearly impossible to lose. “Ladies who have adrenal fatigue are often frustrated because they feel like they’re trying everything to lose weight, but the pounds just won’t come off. It’s a simple chemical imbalance.

Cabeca recommends making changes to your eating routine if you feel like you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue or are frustrated that you can’t seem to lose weight. She explains that at first, you should focus on a diet consisting of unprocessed foods with appropriate amounts of carbs, proteins, good fats, fruits and vegetables. “Ensure that your weight-loss program includes enough zinc to help adrenal function.”


Hypothyroidism occurs when your body lacks the hormones that regulate metabolism. This can cause the metabolism to slow down, making it difficult to lose weight. A doctor will usually diagnose the condition, since blood tests are needed to reach a conclusive conclusion. The appropriate drugs can be used to treat hypothyroidism.

Amanda A. Kostro Miller RD, LDN who is on the Fitter Residing advisory board says that the priority should be to keep thyroid hormones within normal limits. Otherwise, it could be very difficult to achieve a regular weight, whether or not by weight loss or gain. “As soon as hormones are extra managed, individuals with hypothyroidism usually need to shed weight, so a calorie and carbohydrate-controlled weight loss program is useful.”

She does note that finding the right weight loss program can be difficult and may require additional consultations with your doctor. There are many drug-nutrient interactions with thyroid medication and weight loss plan that can make the drugs less effective. Miller says that the timing of your medication and food is crucial. Your doctor will know when to take medication and how you should time it around meals.


Hashimoto’s Disease
The end result is often very similar. “Hashimotos” can be confused with hypothyroidism. “Hashimoto’s is a chronic infection of the thyroid gland that leads to a hypothyroidism-like condition where the thyroid gland stops working properly.” Dr. Seti says. Hashimoto’s, however, is an autoimmune disease. In this case, white blood cells in the body attack the thyroid and cause irritation. Hashimoto’s is treatable, just like hypothyroidism.

Related: According to RDs, 14 tricks to reduce irritation to lose weight faster


Polycystic Ovarian syndrome
“Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome” (PCOS) involves hormonal imbalances among girls. Women with PCOS are insulin resistant. This means that their bodies are less effective at converting sugars and starches to energy. Megan Wong is a registered diettitian who works with AlgaeCal. Because the body isn’t getting energy from these foods, it believes it needs to eat more and remains hungry. It could lead to overeating or weight gain.

Wong states: “Extra androgen production (also known as’male hormones’) is another characteristic of PCOS. Better androgen levels are associated with weight gain, particularly in the abdomen space.”

PCOS is characterized by irregular periods, excessive body hair, severe pimples and weight gain around the abdomen. Women who think they may have PCOS should consult their gynecologist.


The onset of menopause in girls can lead to weight gain or make it harder for them to lose weight. “Hormonal changes can cause the body to gain weight, and this is true during menopause and perimenopause,” explains Dr. Seti. “During this time, women’s metabolisms slow down and fat storage increases, especially around the abdomen. This weight gain is manageable with the right balance of eating, exercising, and self care.


Low Testosterone
It’s not just girls who struggle with hormonal changes that lead to weight gain. “Men also carry a lot of the weight,” Dr. Seti says. As males age naturally, testosterone levels can begin to drop. As testosterone drops, the accumulation of belly fats increases. Other signs of low testosterone include fatigue, muscle loss, low libido and focal points. According to Dr. Seti hormone supplements can bring testosterone levels back into a normal range.


Syndrome X
“SyndromeX is a group of health conditions that may be linked to insulin resistance.” Lisa Younger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and adjunct professor at New York College. She says that weight gain is common. The body does not recognize and respond well to insulin. Insulin resistance seems to affect other hormones in the body, including those that regulate metabolism. “Syndrome X is characterized by high blood sugar levels, elevated ldl cholesterol and weight gain.”


Congestive Coronary Heart Failure
The heart muscle mass weakens and pumps inefficiently with congestive heart failure. The heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, so fluid and blood begin to build up. “This causes swelling and rapid weight gain,” says Dr. Seti. Other symptoms include joint swelling, excessive urination and wheezing or coughing. There are many medical treatment options depending on your level of heart failure.


Rheumatoid arthritis
“In the case of rheumatoid, people take steroids to reduce the inflammation effects of rheumatoid, causing water retention and increased body weight,” explains Andrea Paul, MD and CEO of Wellbeing Media Consultants. Further, joint stiffness can make it difficult to maintain any physical exercise, and therefore, it is hard to lose weight.


Insomnia can be characterized by frequent sleep disturbances, such as the inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep. This is not only a problem because you are irritable and tired, but also because you throw off the circadian rhythms of your body,” says Dr. Seti. This, in turn, causes a variety of hormones to be thrown off, including those that control your hunger and satiety. You eat more, don’t feel full, and your metabolism is affected. Also, when you’re sleep-deprived, it is much more difficult to stay energetic.” For help with your nighttime schedule, don’t miss these 13 Meals Tricks that will assist you sleep higher tonight.