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Sudden, unexplained weight gain… What you think are good eating habits are not necessarily so. Explore the factors that explain weight gain in women with the advice of Caroline Seguin, nutritionist-dietician.

Do you feel like you’re watching what you eat but you’re gaining weight? In addition to medical reasons (hormonal or metabolic problems or genetic diseases, etc.), it is essentially bad eating habits and lack of physical activity which leads to weight gain. What are the behaviors to avoid? How many calories should you eat per day? Why don’t you skip the meal? Tour the causes of weight gain with Caroline Seguin, nutritionist-dietician.

  • women’s needs 1 800 to 2 200 calories per day, broken down like this: breakfast at about 650 calories, lunch at 900 calories, and dinner at 450 calories.
  • The man is in need 2 200 to 2 500 calories per day, broken down like this: a breakfast of about 750 calories, lunch of 1000 calories and a dinner of 550 calories.

The main reason for weight gain other than medical reasons is snacking. “A snack is any food consumption outside of a meal. We need to distinguish nibbling from snacking. Snacking is not related to the feeling of hunger and usually responds to the desire to eat, the need for comfort or greed. On the other hand, the snack is a “programmed” snack that meets specific needs and can be included in the diet of a person with diabetes, a child, an elderly person, a professional sportsman or a person who works long hours. Apart from these people and have no particular health concerns, A snack is theoretically unnecessary. If they are balanced and well-constructed nutritionally, three meals a day is usually enough to last the whole day without snacks“, the nutritionist immediately explained. What’s the problem, so snacking happens in addition to mealswhich increases the energy load of the day and therefore promotes weight gain.

→ The snack should have a nutritional interest: it can be a yogurt, a fruit…”Beware of snacks that are considered “good for health” such as smoothies, fruit juice, cookies with “organic” claims, “sportsman” energy bars or handfuls of dried fruit. They have nutrients but sometimes high caloric value“, warns our partner. They should be consumed in moderation.

→ Snack energy intake should not be added to lunch energy intake. In other words, if you plan to have a 100 calorie snack, lunch should be 100 calories less than usual. For example: someone who usually has a 900-calorie lunch should, if they want to set up a snack, have an 800-calorie lunch and a 100-calorie snack at 4 o’clock afternoon, for example.

“Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”

Many people make two meals a day and skip breakfast. They eat on the run at noon and make a big dinner because they are hungry when they get home. Eating too big a meal at night is a bad idea because the body, which remains inactive at night, tends to convert what you eat into fat and store it. “Generally, we should distribute our calories roughly in this way: breakfast between 500 and 700 calories, lunch at 1000 calories and dinner at 400/500 calories.“, details of our nutritionist.

→ As the famous saying goes, the ideal is “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” Breakfast should be hearty because it should cover the energy intake for 4 to 5 hours after drinking it. Lunch should also be sufficient because it should cover the whole afternoon. On the other hand, dinner should be light because the body needs less energy at night.

After 8 hours of fasting, set up a reflex mechanism in the brain that prompts the body to save to avoid possible deficiency. It is the body that itself produces reserves. So when we skip food, the body tilts save the extra for the next meal. And the fact of saving can improve weight gain, hence the importance of respect three meals a day“, insisted Caroline Seguin.

It is better to have a light dinner than to skip this meal. “In the evening, favor soups, salads or bruschetta that allow you to mix many ingredients in a reduced amount“, advises the specialist.

Sweetened or light products provide a “good conscience” and activate the part of the brain associated with sugar cravings and the feeling of hunger.

Sweetened or light products give a “good conscience”, tricking the brain and getting used to the sweet taste. “Light” or “zero” sodas have no calories, but activate the area of ​​the brain associated with sugar cravings and feelings of hunger. Result: the more sugar you drink (sweetener or glucose), the hungrier you feel, the more we want to eat, the more we increase our appetite for sweet products. “In addition, it seems that when we move to buy this type and we deprive ourselves (It’s a bit of the same principle if you’re following a diet that’s too restrictive: deprivation and frustration are counterproductive and ultimately lead to weight gain)we tend to set up a reward system. We tell ourselves that “because I ate a 0% yogurt, I have the right to give myself an extra square of chocolate”. Finally, if we add the calories of low-fat yogurt and chocolate, we will see that it is higher than the classic yogurt. Some studies also show that people who consume sweetened products can gain an average of 40% more weight compared to people who do not eat them.“, introduced Caroline Seguin.

→ It is better to consume classic products in reasonable quantities than to consume double the quantity of light products (sodas, yogurt, etc.).

Energy expenditure from:

  • from basal metabolic rate (This is the number of calories a person burns every day to live, to beat his heart, to breathe, to digest…)
  • Of those physical and muscular expenditure (This is the number of calories that a person burns every day when he exerts himself, he walks, he gets up, he plays sports…)
  • Of those cost of the brain (This is the number of calories a person burns per day when thinking and doing intellectual activity)

The amount of energy expenditure varies from one person to another. We have no influence on the basal metabolism and expenditure of the brain. On the contrary, you can control physical expenditure by moving and practicing physical activity. Conversely, if energy expenditure is insufficient and less than energy intake, weight will increase.“, warns the nutritionist.

→ An office job, where you sit all day, prompts little physical movement, so you should try as much as possible to impose physical activity sessions on yourself during the week. The World Health Organization recommends practicing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity endurance activity (walking, jogging, cycling, etc.) or at least 75 minutes of sustained intensity endurance activity (jogging, gym, tennis, swimming, etc.) per week for people ages 18 to 64.

Every day, our body eats food (= energy intake) and burn calories (= energy costs). In the schematic:

  • If the energy intake UNDER in energy costs, we lose weight.
  • If the energy intake equal in energy costs, we remain a stable weight.
  • If the energy intake elderly in energy costs, we gain weight.

It happens that some diseases have an effect on our weight. This is especially the case with certain metabolic diseases such as thyroid dysfunction (hypothyroidism) which can lead to weight gain. the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) A hormonal disorder can also cause weight gain. Another example, “the Cushing’s syndrome is a relatively rare genetic disease characterized by excessive secretion of cortisol from the adrenal glands. And one of the main ones is weight gain“, explained the nutritionist, with local fat in the bust, neck and face.

Certain medications such as antidepressants, anxiolytics, some neuroleptics, corticosteroids or beta-blockers can increase the feeling of hunger or lead to weight gain. If you are taking any of these treatments, talk to the prescribing doctor to adjust the dose or consider another treatment.

It is rare, but drinking a lot of water (between 3 and 5 liters of water per day) can improve a small weight gain, 3 to 4 kg on average. “This is a behavior that is more visible in women, who think that to lose weight you have to drink a lot. If he drinks a lot, his body is filled with water. And when the body absorbs more water than it can eliminate, it tends to retain it and can start to swell. This can be shown in particular by the formation of edema in the hands or feet.“, describes the specialist. These symptoms, suggests staying hydratedusually disappear on their own, but if they continue, it is best to consult a doctor.

→ To maintain the balance of the kidneys and for the kidneys to eliminate all the water consumed, it is good to drink 1.5 L (8 glasses of 200 ml) water every day.

Thanks to Caroline Seguin, nutritionist-dietician.

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