Experiencing weight loss without trying to drop weight, especially if you’ve been a relatively stable weight throughout your life, can be a worry.
Regardless of what your weight was before, dropping pounds for no apparent reason should be looked into. Luckily, causes of weight loss are usually relatively straightforward.
Losing weight is almost always a case of calories in versus calories out.
If you start taking in fewer calories, you’ll create a calorie deficit in your body. Then, your body will burn into stored energy and you’ll lose weight as a result. You can do this by eating fewer calories than you burn - or expending more energy than you eat.
But a calorie deficit isn’t the full explanation for unexplained weight loss. What if you’re still eating the same way as ever – and your activity levels haven’t changed much either?
Whereas a little stress can be a good thing – it motivates us and energises us to face responsibilities and tasks – too much stress can have a serious negative effect on your wellbeing. Weight loss can be a common side effect of stress.The so-called ‘stress hormones’, cortisol and adrenaline, are produced in excess when we’re chronically stressed. Too much of these hormones can bring on a range of physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, chest pain and a rapid heartbeat.1 Reduction in appetite and trouble digesting food are also common in stressed people, along with increased fidgeting and movement.2 Altogether, this leads to weight loss.
These changes could even be positive ones, such as a new job, new partner, house move or planning a wedding.
These things can call cause anxiety, which can lead to poor sleep, reduced appetite and digestive issues – all risk factors for unwanted weight loss.
It’s likely that if you’re losing weight gradually, you’re eating less and moving more without realising it. Small changes can add up to a calorie deficit.Let’s say you’re embarking on a DIY project which sees you painting several rooms at home. The project will take up every weekend for a month. Painting the walls (and moving furniture out of the way) might burn up to 3000 calories per weekend,4 which would see you dropping a few pounds over that month without changing anything else.
Some people have reported weight loss after getting a dog (think of all those walks!)
Have you switched your coffee order? Even something as simple as opting for an Americano over a frappe with cream could change your calorie intake enough to cause weight loss over a few weeks.
Going vegan can be a wonderful way to overhaul your health. However, if you don’t do your research properly beforehand, you can find yourself lacking in energy and losing unwanted weight after making the switch.
Most vegan foods are naturally low in fat. Health-conscious vegans might avoid fats altogether in favour of fruit and vegetables only, but this is a mistake. Vegans l need nourishing foods including plenty of healthy fats, to give you energy and help promote healthy skin. Nuts, tahini, avocados, olive oil, granola and flax seeds are all great for healthy weight gain.
Speak to your GP if you think you might be experiencing a form of IBD as it is a potentially serious condition which needs professional diagnosis.
If you think you’ve identified the reason you’re dropping pounds, and don’t want to lose weight, you should supplement your usual calories with some energy-dense, healthy snacks such as hummus and pita or nuts and dried fruit.
If you can’t pinpoint your sudden weight loss to any dietary or lifestyle changes, there could be an underlying medical issue. Chat to your doctor to put your mind at rest.
Last updated: 9 July 2020