fatigued woman
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Your Sleep Schedule Is Off

If you get more than 9 hours of sleep a night, you may be the envy of your friends, but too much or too little sleep -- less than 5 hours a night -- can be linked to weight gain. Both can throw off the way your body makes the hormones that control your appetite and hunger. And if you don’t feel rested, you may skip your workouts, too.

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woman drinking water
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You Don’t Drink Enough Water

Between 2 and 6 cups of clear, plain water each day can help you lose extra pounds. Water has no calories at all, so it satisfies your thirst without adding weight. And when you drink enough water, you may be less likely to grab sodas, juices, or coffee drinks packed with sugar. High calories in sweet drinks can add up to a big weight gain.

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women snacking
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You Wait Too Long to Eat

When you space out your meals too much, your metabolism slows down and isn’t able to burn off all the calories you eat in your next meal. Those extra calories may wind up as extra weight. And you may overeat because you’re too hungry. Try eating smaller portions, and eat more often.

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menu board
4 / 14

You Eat Out Too Often

OK, you hate to cook. But if you eat most of your meals at restaurants, it may be harder to keep your weight under control. Even so-called light dishes may have more calories than you realize. And we’re not just talking about dinner, either. People who eat lunch out daily can weigh up to 5 pounds more than those who brown-bag it.  

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man stretching
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You Sit All Day

Your desk job or TV obsession may make it harder for you to drop those pesky pounds. When you sit most of the time, your body can lose its ability to know when you’ve eaten too much -- you can overeat and gain weight. Even brief exercise breaks during the day can help you stay healthy. Get up for three 10-minute walks around meetings or your favorite shows.

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berry smoothie
6 / 14

You Reward Workouts With Food

Exercise is a great way to lose weight -- it burns calories and builds muscle mass. But if you indulge in a big dinner or smoothie after every workout, you can ruin all that sweaty work. Watch out for high-sugar sports drinks and protein bars, too. While they can help quench your thirst or give you an energy boost post-workout, they can be very high in calories.

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women toasting with wine
7 / 14

You Overdo the Alcohol

Whether you like wine, beer, or mixed drinks, alcohol has calories that add to your daily amount. If you often have 3 or more drinks a day, you’re more likely to gain weight or be overweight, no matter what type of alcohol you drink. Stick to light or moderate drinking, like one glass of wine with dinner. That may actually help keep you from gaining weight.

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Potato chips
8 / 14

Stress Gives You Snack Attacks

If you feel tense, you’re more likely to reach for unhealthy, high-calorie treats for a quick comfort fix. You may eat when you don't really need food. 

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drive thru
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You Make Quick Food Decisions

It’s worth your time to plan out your meals and healthy snacks so you’re not tempted to grab something on the go. Even if you get enough activity, you can gain an extra pound or two if you tend to eat fast food or sugary snacks or sodas. Your body doesn’t seem to treat these calories the same as energy you get from healthy foods -- it breaks them down too quickly. They’re also low in fiber, so you don’t feel full afterward and you’re likely to eat or drink more.

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thyroid check
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Your Thyroid Is Sluggish

If this tiny gland in the front of your throat lags on the job, you could gain as much as 5 to 10 extra pounds. Your thyroid makes hormones that control your energy level and how your body breaks down food. If you don’t make enough of them, it can be hard to shed pounds. You may also feel bloated because your body holds on to too much water and salt. If you think you might have a thyroid problem, talk with your doctor. Medication can help.

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pregnant couple smiling
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You’re Pregnant

Healthy weight gain during your pregnancy is a good thing. If you’re at an average weight before you get pregnant, it’s good to gain 25 to 35 pounds. Go for whole foods like fruits, veggies, grains, and proteins that nourish you and your baby.

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medications
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Your Medication

Some drugs you take for health problems could make you gain a little weight. For example, steroids can change your metabolism and make you feel hungrier -- you may overeat and gain extra belly fat. Even antihistamines that calm your hay fever could cause weight gain. They lower a chemical your body makes to control your appetite, so you may sneeze less but eat more.

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Woman with migraine
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You’re in Menopause

If you’re like most women, you may find your weight creeps up during menopause. Changes in your hormones, less muscle mass, and too little sleep from hot flashes can all lead to added pounds. If you wake up tired, you’re more likely to want to munch on snacks for a boost of energy later in the day. Your genes may also make you more likely to get a “spare tire.”

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Patient check-up
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Check With Your Doctor

Some health problems can make it really hard to lose weight even if you diet and exercise. Your genes can also play a role in how much you weigh or where your body stores fat. Talk to your doctor if you just can’t seem to lose weight. Tests can show if you have a health problem that makes weight loss hard, and you can get medicine or other help to overcome it.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 03/02/2017 Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on March 02, 2017

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

Thinkstock Photos

 

SOURCES:

American Thyroid Association.

CDC: “Weight Gain During Pregnancy.”

Mayo Clinic.org.

Piedmont Healthcare: “What happens to the body when you skip meals.”

Cleveland Clinic: “4 Worst Habits That Wreck Your Weight Loss Plan.”

Jacobs, D. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2006.

Hospital for Special Surgery: “Steroid Side Effects.”

UC San Diego Health: “Wide Effect: Drugs That Promote Weight Gain.”

Wannamethee, S. and Shaper, A. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2003.

Sayon-Orea, C. Nutrition Reviews, October 2014.

Cornell University Food & Brand Lab.

University of Nevada, Reno: “Drink More Water!”

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “3 Basic Tips to Avoid Weight Gain with a New Exercise Regimen.”

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: “What Causes Overweight and Obesity?”

Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on March 02, 2017

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.