There are many reasons why you may be gaining weight. This is often the first question a person asks when they begin their weight loss journey. In my Miami Diet Plan, the key causes of weight gain are broken down to 9 categories. You learn which foods are the most common causes of your weight gain. In this article, I’ll give you a sneak peak into exactly which foods and/or beverages are causing your weight problems. In the table below the top 9 causes of weight gain are listed. The most important causes are on the top of the table. The weight gain caused by that food type is right beneath the description in each row.

The Reasons You are Gaining Weight: 9 Food & Drink Choices

Soda Can

9. Sugary Drinks

Regular soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, and any other sugary drinks
1 Sugary Drink per Day for 1 Month = 1 Lb. Weight Gain

Fast Food Burger

8. Fast Food at Any Meal

Burgers, fries, chicken or fish sandwiches, chicken nuggets, pizza = 3/4 of the day’s food. Fast food causes you to gain weight.
1 Fast Food Meal per Week = 1 Lb. Weight Gain per Month

Large Lunch

7. Lunch: Large Meals

Too large a serving of meat, chicken, fish, rice, pasta, potatoes, and any fried foods are no different than fast foods. You can get 1000 calories or more. They are difficult to portion and contain lots of oils.
1 Day per Week of Large Lunches & Dinners = 1 Lb. Weight Gain per Month

Skipping Breakfast

6. Skipping Breakfast or Lunch

This includes having only coffee or juice. Skipping meals only leads to loss of control of your food intake for the day. That means more eating later and snacking due to hunger and low blood sugar.
Coffee or Juice Alone is NOT Breakfast!

Bad Breakfast

5. Choosing the Wrong Breakfast Foods

Bagels, muffins, sugary cereals, pastries, and donuts are high in calories, filled with sugar, and make you hungry all morning long. It’s not much different than skipping breakfast.
1 Day per Week of Bad Breakfasts = 1 Lb. Weight Gain per Month

Large Dinner

4. Large Portions and Fried Foods at Dinner

While less of a problem than poor choices at lunch, large portions and fried food at dinner add to weight gain. With lots of oils and carbs, your dinner can give you more calories than you need. Limit portions of beef and pork and limit carbs. Fish, vegetables, and fruit are almost unlimited.
1 Day per Week of Large Dinners = 1 Lb. Weight Gain per Month

Junk Food Snacks

3. Snacks and Desserts

Ice cream, cookies, cake, pie, candy, chocolate bars, chips, cheese, nuts, and seeds are all high-calorie snacks that lead to gaining weight. Try fruit or a high-protein, low carb snack, or look for easy-to-find 100 calorie packs to control your portions.
17 Almonds per Day = 1 Lb. Weight Gain per Month

High-Calorie Condiments

2. Condiments

Olive oil, butter, and regular salad dressings are often overlooked sources of additional calories, fat, and sugar.
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil per Day = 1 Lb. Weight Gain per Month

Alcoholic Beverages

1. Alcoholic Beverages

Drinking 5 or more days per week can really pack on the pounds. They don’t call it a beer belly for nothing. The additional calories aren’t the biggest problem. A glass of wine or straight liquor is about 95 calories. It’s the resulting loss of control, increased appetite, and decrease in metabolism that are the real problems.
Save drinking for the weekends – 2-3 drinks per week – and avoid the mixes that are filled with sugar.

Gaining Weight from High Calorie, High Carb Drinks and Foods

Most important causes of weight gain are at the top of this chart beginning with sugary drinks. These drinks, while not as many calories as a fast food meal, still have lots of calories and sugars. Each of these drinks are 130 calories and 40g of carbs or more. If only a single drink is consumed daily, it can account for 12-15 lbs. of weight gain a year!. It’s easy to change from a regular soda or glass of orange juice to a diet soda and Crystal Lite. The alternative drink is O calories with no carbs.

Further down the list are high calorie fast foods – burgers, fries, fried chicken, and wings – and then very large lunches with fried foods or foods that imitate a large evening meal. All of the meals are high in calories (in excess of 1000) and high in carbs. Even if consumed once or twice a week they can lead to serious weight gain.

The Harvard School of Public Health also has a very good article on diet choices and causes of weight gain.

Gaining Weight from Consuming High Calorie Foods and Drinks Frequently

Be careful. Not only must you identify the high calorie, high carb beverages and foods that are the major causes of your weight gain, you need to note the frequency with which you eat or drink these foods. Drinking a glass of juice once or twice a month or a single fast food meal consisting of burgers and fries once a month is far different from drinking juice several times a day or eating fast food burgers and fries 3-4 times a week. Each of the nine items includes the frequency of the food or drink. Items 9 to 6 are more significant than the lower items on the list.

The table then continues with other causes of weight gain, starting with high calorie-high carb breakfast foods and going down to alcohol. As you scroll down the table, note the weight gain factor and the frequency to be a significant cause of the weight gain. Your food choice may be different every day, but your food patterns don’t change much. Focus on your normal choices and not on the rare exceptions.

How Many Changes Should You Make?

It is possible that for some, only lower-ranked causes are the source of their extra calories. You need to make only three changes in your daily diet. Sometimes they occur daily such as a sugary drink, other times once or twice a week such as a fast food meal or a bagel. Choose the ones that are at the top of the table — they yield the greatest results with the least effort. Make sure that these are changes you will be able to stick to indefinitely. Each of the “mistakes” in the table account for an extra 100 calories a day. That a gain of 12 lbs. per item over a year.