Do you find yourself gaining weight, despite eating a normal amount of food? It can be incredibly frustrating to be told ‘eat less, move more’ or ‘you’re just eating too much, go on a diet’. If that was why you’re gaining weight, you would have solved the issue already!

But there are ways that your weight can climb without you needing to be eating a Big Mac Meal at breakfast lunch and dinner (which is what so many people assume is happening, thanks a lot diet culture!)

Let’s take a look at 5 ways that you might be gaining weight despite not overeating.


5 reasons why you’re gaining weight (that are nothing to do with eating too much)

Chronic stress

This is THE most frequent driver of weight gain I see, particularly for women in their 40s. When you are constantly busy and overwhelmed with everything you have to juggle, it increases production of stress hormones.

High cortisol feeds into elevated blood sugar and insulin levels. And as you might know by now (if you’ve been around a while), insulin resistance causes you to store fat, especially around the tummy area. Even worse, it makes it incredibly difficult to lose that weight!

Find that overwhelm is your default setting? Make sure you give this a read for some actionable tips.

Insufficient sleep

I know that sleep is probably the last thing on your priority list right now. But that might actually be the reason why your weight is creeping up, no matter what you throw at it!

Sleep is not just a time to be lazy. It is a complex process and involves countless essential mechanisms that reboot the body – including the metabolism. When you skip out on sleep, you spike your stress (and cortisol), you send yourself into insulin resistance mode, and you sabotage your thyroid gland. And as I’m sure you can guess, that all adds up to weight gain.

Want to learn more about the link between sleep and weight loss? I’ve got you covered here.


This is another one that often shocks people when I say it. After all, dieting is supposed to help you lose weight, right?? But constantly cutting out foods, restricting calories and putting yourself on the latest ‘it’ diet is having the opposite effect.

Your body is smarter than you might think, and its #1 goal is to protect you. So if you cut calories right down or get insufficient nutrition throughout the day, the body will cling to your energy stores – aka your body fat. It will send a message to your thyroid to slow right down to further protect those stores. And it will ramp up cortisol, feeding into that insulin resistance picture.

The end result? Your metabolism tanks, your body switches everything to fat storage mode, and your weight climbs. And just to make it even more fun, your hunger levels will skyrocket because your body genuinely thinks there is a famine going on so you’ve gotta eat what you can get your hands on.

Oh and before you ask? Yes, this includes intermittent fasting. It might be ok for some people, but if you’re a woman in your 40s, all you’re doing is adding even more stress to your plate!


‘But Sarah, surely more exercise means more weight loss, right?’ Guess again my friend. Just like too little food, too much exercise is a big tax on your body.

Don’t get me wrong – moving on a regular basis is a foundation of health. But it’s about the frequency and intensity. If you go too high on either (or both), it leads to:

  • Increased cortisol levels
  • Reduced insulin sensitivity
  • Increased appetite
  • Muscle loss if you don’t have sufficient recovery between sessions

So by all means, move your body in the ways that feel good. But don’t punish yourself with exercise, have recovery days, and keep the high intensity stuff to a max of 1-2 times per week.

Low vitamin D

Yep, even your vitamin D levels might be playing a role in weight gain. Research has shown that low vitamin D is associated with stubborn weight gain and difficulty losing weight.

Now this could be a two-way street, or it could be one-way. But if you’re struggling with your weight and your vitamin D is depleted, addressing that is an easy way to see if it’s playing a part. Worst case scenario is that you’ll reap the countless other benefits of vitamin D!

Now you know why you’re gaining weight – what can be done about it?

I’m glad you asked! There is no quick fix for this situation, nor is there a cookie-cutter diet plan you can find online that is going to solve it all.

The key here is an approach that takes into account everything going on for you: your nutrient levels, your hormones, your health concerns, your lifestyle, and how your body’s metabolism functions. That’s where personalised nutrition is a game-changer.

It’s what I used to release 18kg over 14 weeks (plus I’ve maintained that loss for 2 years and counting!)

If you’re sick of quick-fix, one-size-fits-all options that don’t work for you and your body, I’m here to help. Weight loss might seem impossible in your 40s and beyond, but it doesn’t have to be! By taking a holistic and tailored approach, we can help you to not only look like a million bucks, but also feel amazing in your body.

Book in for a free discovery call today, and we can explore how I can help you to reboot your body and feel good again.