The average person gains one to two pounds (0.5 to 1 kg) every year (1Trusted Source).
Although that number seems small, that could equal an extra 10 to 20 pounds (4.5 to 9 kg) per decade.
Eating healthy and exercising regularly can help prevent this sneaky weight gain. However, it’s often the little things that pack on the pounds.
Fortunately, you can take control by changing your habits today.
Here are 20 little things that are making you gain fat.
1. Eating Quickly
In today’s world, people are busier than ever and tend to eat their meals quickly.
Unfortunately, eating quickly might be making you gain fat. Studies show that people who eat their meals quickly are more likely to be overweight or obese (2Trusted Source, 3, 4Trusted Source).
This is because it takes time for your body to tell your brain that it is full. Thus, people who eat quickly can easily eat more food than their body needs before feeling full (5Trusted Source).
If you’re a quick eater, try to consciously slow down by chewing more and taking smaller bites. You can learn more strategies to slow down your eating here.
2. Not Drinking Enough Water
Studies estimate that up to 16–28% of adults are dehydrated, with older people at an increased risk (6Trusted Source).
Not drinking enough water can make you thirsty. Interestingly, thirst may be mistaken as a sign of hunger or food cravings by the body (7Trusted Source).
In one study, scientists found that people who drank two cups of water right before breakfast ate 22% fewer calories at that meal than people who did not drink water (8Trusted Source).
Best of all, plain water has zero calories. Some studies have found that replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water may reduce calorie intake by up to 200 calories per day (9Trusted Source).
If you find plain water boring, try adding slices of cucumber, lemon or your favorite fruit to add a dash of flavor.
3. Being Too Social
Having a social life is important for maintaining a happy work-life balance.
However, being too social might be making you gain fat. Social situations often involve food or alcohol, which can easily add unwanted calories to your diet.
In addition, research shows that people tend to eat like the people they are with. So if your friends eat big portions or prefer unhealthy foods, you’re more likely to follow suit (10, 11).
Fortunately, there are things you can do to stay healthy without giving up your social life. You can find clever tips to eat healthy when eating out here.
4. Sitting Too Long
In Western countries, the average adult sits for 9 to 11 hours per day (12Trusted Source).
Although it seems harmless, studies show that people who sit longer are more likely to be overweight. In addition, they have higher risks of chronic diseases and early death (13Trusted Source).
For example, an analysis of six studies of nearly 600,000 people found that adults who sat for longer than 10 hours per day, such as the average office worker, had a 34% higher risk of an early death (12Trusted Source).
Interestingly, studies have also found that people who sit the longest don’t seem to make up for the time they spent sitting with exercise (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
If your work involves sitting for long intervals, make sure you exercise either before work, during lunch or after work a few times per week. You can also try using a standing desk.
5. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Over a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep (16Trusted Source).
Unfortunately, a lack of sleep is strongly linked to weight gain. This is due to many factors, including hormonal changes and a lack of motivation to exercise (17Trusted Source).
In one study, scientists analyzed the sleeping habits of over 68,000 women over 16 years. They discovered that women who slept fewer than 5 hours per night had a much higher risk of gaining weight than people who slept 7 hours or more (18Trusted Source).
What’s worse, people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to gain belly fat, or visceral fat. Carrying more visceral fat is linked to a higher risk of harmful diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
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