Weight gain and bloating are caused by different things and are therefore largely unconnected. However, "if bloating is accompanied by significant or rapid weight gain, then you should reach out to your doctor to discover the cause," notes Harry.
One of the biggest differences between bloating and weight gain is the speed at which they come on. If you have gained weight, it's going to be a more gradual process over time (as this may involve a surplus of calories, reduction in physical activity, underlying hormonal issue, increase in stressful inputs, or something else), while bloating can hit you like a ton of bricks.
The best way to distinguish between the two is if you woke up with a flat stomach and ended the day with it feeling hard and full of air—that is bloating and not weight gain. "Weight gain tends not to happen suddenly after eating a meal," adds Harry. "While our weight may fluctuate slightly over the day, true weight gain happens over time."
Of course, weight gain can also occur when we build lean muscle tissue (hello, strength training) or even bone density, so weight fluctuation context is key.
Bloating can also come from water retention due to changes in hormones, and is actually quite common (albeit, annoying). "Bloating related to hormonal water retention is normal and resolves itself through the course of the menstrual cycle, whereas too much gas in the GI tract warrants some attention," adds holistic psychiatrist and mbg Collective member Ellen Vora, M.D.
Harry notes that other common causes of bloating include: