Weight Gain During COVID-19 Quarantine and How to Lose It

Many Americans will face weight gain after being confined to their homes for months because of COVID-19.

America has a problem with weight gain and obesity. Shows like My 600 Pound Life, The Biggest Loser, The Dr. Oz Show, and Family By The Ton are all prime examples of a country preoccupied with the size and shape of their bodies.

In 2018, 42% of Americans were classified as obese.

With obesity comes heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and many forms of cancer. The medical cost of treating obesity in the U.S. is an estimated 190 billion annually. And the obesity rate is steadily increasing. Half of the United States will be medically obese within ten years. If you’ve gained weight from being COVID-19 quarantined, what are some solutions to the problem?

Aging and Weight Gain

Even if staying in your house because of COVID-19 has made you gain some weight, keep in mind other factors may be at play. With aging, hormonal changes and a slower metabolism will trigger your body to gain weight. Typically, people will gain 1-2 pounds per year with time. Also, the lean muscle on your frame will decline by 3 to 8 percent per decade past age 30, a process called sarcopenia. A loss of muscle means your body will need fewer calories per day. Therefore, weight gain will be highly probable by consuming the same calories as you did when you were younger. Also, lipid turnover in the fat tissue decreases during aging, making it easier to gain weight over time, even if we don’t eat more.

Additional Causes of Weight Gain


Hypothyroidism can develop gradually over many years. Only a doctor can check you for hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism causes a slow-down of your metabolism, which can result in drastic weight gain.

Stress and Sleep Deprivation

Stress and lack of sleep can initiate hormonal changes that affect metabolism.


About 50 million people in the States are allergic to pollen from trees, weeds, and grasses. If people use antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec) and fexofenadine (Allegra), to combat these allergies, they’re more likely to be overweight.

Bowls And Plates

diet bowl size

Are your bowls and plates too large? In the 1950s, American dinner plates were, on average, three centimeters smaller than they are today. However, Americans seem to have larger dinner plates, larger portions, and thus larger waistlines nowadays. On the other hand, Japan is the least obese nation in the world. Their portions are smaller, their dinner plates and bowls are smaller-inhibiting overfeeding-and they emphasize fish, fresh vegetables, and rice, rather than fast food and fried food, which are typically laden with sugars and carbs. Consider buying newer and smaller plates, measuring your food before serving it, and using a food journal to document exactly how much food (and what type) you eat daily.

Some Simple Weight Loss Techniques

If you have gained weight during the COVID lockdown, consider these simple methods to get your weight-loss goals back on track.


Simply drinking water can boost metabolism by 24-30% throughout 1-1.5 hours, helping you burn calories.

Coffee & Green Tea

Green tea for weight loss

Surprisingly, good coffee is loaded with antioxidants and can have numerous health benefits. Studies show that the caffeine in coffee can boost metabolism by 3-11% and increase fat burning by up to 10-29%.

Green tea is also worth incorporating into your diet. Green tea contains small amounts of caffeine. It’s packed with powerful antioxidants called catechins, and they are believed to work with caffeine to promote fat burning.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting directs people to cycle between periods of Fasting and eating. Short-term studies suggest intermittent Fasting is as effective for weight loss. This is because calories are restricted on an ongoing basis. Some advocates of intermittent Fasting say that early hunter-gatherers would eat large meals only a couple of times a week when prey was killed. They say eating constantly, as modern humans typically do, is a relatively new phenomenon in human history.


A fiber called glucomannan has been consistently linked to weight loss. It absorbs water, makes you feel full, and therefore causes you to eat less. Studies show that people who eat this fiber, regularly incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables, will find will and lose weight.

Reducing Sugar

If you truly want to lose weight, cutting back on added sugar is important. Sugar is bad, but sugar in liquid form is even worse. Liquid sugar is possibly the most fattening aspect of current diets. Refined carbohydrates include sugar and grains stripped of their fibrous, nutritious parts. It’s common knowledge that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity in children. Keep in mind that this applies to fruit juice as well. Eating whole fruit has benefits, but limit or avoid fruit juice altogether.

Slashing Your Carb Intake

If you want to get all the benefits of carb restriction, then consider going all the way and committing to a low-carb diet.

Healthy Snacks

Keep delicious and healthy food that you enjoy eating close at hand. You can easily prepare healthy snacks and take them to work or school- these snacks will help avoid the temptation of eating junk food. Consider filling your home with whole fruits, nuts, baby carrots, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs.


arches related to cardio for weight loss cardio to lose weight

Aerobic exercise, aka cardio, is an excellent way to burn calories and improve physical and mental health. Cardio is critical in targeting belly fat and fat that accumulates around internal organs.

Food Addiction and Binge Eating During COVID-19 Causing Weight Gain

Food addicts typically have underlying psychological, psychosocial, and physiological issues. If you have a food addiction and stay home because of COVID-19, it can be a recipe for massive and significant weight gain.

And if you have started binge eating and gaining weight during the COVID lockdown, rest assured, you’re not alone. Gyms have closed, public parks and beaches are out-of-bounds, unemployment is through the roof, and many people overeat to cope.

Conquering an addiction requires commitment and sometimes medical intervention. Quarantine makes the issue that much more complex.

Other Causes of Weight Gain

Underactive thyroid

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) means your thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones. This slows the body’s metabolism and can lead to weight gain.


Snacking regularly can mean you take in more calories than you need. This can lead to overall weight gain.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome is very rare. High cortisol levels cause this disease, which can develop as a side effect of long-term steroid treatment or as a result of a tumor.

Weight gain is a common symptom associated with Cushing’s syndrome, particularly on the chest, face, and stomach. Depending on the cause, treatment typically involves reducing or withdrawing the use of steroids or surgery to remove the tumor.

Anxiety and Depression

Many mental health struggles, such as depression or anxiety, can affect a person’s weight. Some may gain weight, and others lose weight due to unhealthy habits brought on by these struggles.

Surgical Interventions for Weight Loss

Proper diet and exercise, controlling anxiety and depression, and meditation are key strategies for weight loss. If those strategies are ineffective, if an individual is still concerned about localized fat deposits in the waist and flanks, then liposuction is a viable solution. If a person remains 30-50 lbs overweight, procedures like the gastric balloon and weight loss medication are recommended.

There are other surgical interventions to help correct the problem If someone is super morbidly obese.

For individuals with >50 lbs or BMI > 35, the gastric Sleeve appears to be one of the most effective procedures. In a sleeve gastrectomy, we separate and remove a part of the stomach from the body. We transform what remains of the stomach into a tube-like structure. This smaller stomach cannot hold as much food. It also produces less of the appetite-regulating hormone ghrelin, which may reduce a person’s appetite.

Corrective Plastic Surgery For Your Weight Loss Journey

Whether COVID-19 has been a factor or not, if you struggle with severe weight gain, which at times can be disfiguring, especially if you lose said weight, there are cosmetic methods to improve your appearance.


An abdominoplasty (or tummy tuck) removes excess skin throughout the abdomen. A tummy tuck is a trifecta procedure. When you undergo this procedure, your doctor will tighten your abdominal wall, removing extra skin and unwanted belly fat.


We do an augment lift to replace lost volume and lift the droopy breast. Alternatively, some patients want a reduction (which includes a lift).

Buttocks/Lateral thighs

The buttocks/lateral thighs hang and ‘fall’ after weight loss. This leads to a ‘pancake effect’ on the buttocks. A lower body lift procedure involves removing excess skin from the lateral body and buttock areas and lifting the buttock and thigh skin.


After extreme weight loss, the face loses volume and can look gaunt. Excessive skin hangs from the cheeks and necks. Fat grafting and a face and neck lift can correct this appearance.

Upper Arms

A brachioplasty removes excess skin and fat from the upper arms, distribution of skin and fat, which is common after extensive weight loss.

Inner Thighs

A woman measuring her waist with a measuring tape.

The inner thighs also droop after weight loss. We will excise excess skin and fat using a groin crease scar. This, combined with liposuction, can dramatically improve appearance.

The Effects of Quarantining on Weight Gain, Isolation and COVID-19

It’s no secret that isolation and quarantine cause stress, depression, and a tendency to overeat. The effects of isolation and quarantining have been observed in great detail not via COVID-19 but in the American prison population. There are an estimated 80,000 people in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. It’s a controversial measure put in place either to protect the confined inmate (from other prisoners) or the prison population (from the confined inmate).

Robert King is a former prisoner who lived in solitary confinement for 29 years. It’s now established that his prolonged isolation changed how his brain functioned. He developed an inability to ‘recognize’ faces and destroyed his sense of direction. By living alone in a space the size of a standard household bathroom for nearly three decades, it’s as if his brain deleted the skills and abilities it deemed no longer useful (navigation skills and facial recognition).

Isolation in either a prison or in the confines of your home can result in higher cortisol levels, increased blood pressure, and an impulse to overeat (and thus gain weight). Fortunately, weight gain in your home (because of COVID-19 isolation) is a much more solvable problem than weight gain in a small prison cell. And if you have left your weight loss journey path because of COVID-19, rest assured that the solutions are plentiful.

Call to speak to Dr. Moein and the staff at Healthy Life Bariatrics to discuss how to lose excess weight. Dr. Moein is now conducting virtual consultations. Call (310)-807-1735 to schedule a time that is best for you.

Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki
August 11, 2020
Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki
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