Have you gained weight after starting to exercise? Are you working out but putting on pounds? What’s happening to you right now is perfectly normal. Most people who have just started to work out go through this phase. Initial weight gained after starting an exercise program is a temporary problem caused by muscle soreness, muscle gain, water retention and other factors. If you have a balanced diet, there’s nothing to worry about. Exercise itself does not cause weight gain.
Let’s see the real reasons why you’ve gained weight after starting to exercise:
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Most people who have started to exercise, especially those engaged in strength training, experience a form of muscle soreness known as DOMS. Every time you lift weights, you’re causing microscopic tears and trauma to the muscles. This helps your body develop stronger muscle fibers, which leads to muscle growth and development. However, if you’ve just started to work out, you’ll experience delayed onset muscle soreness.
DOMS is a normal response to strenuous exercise. Your body is trying to protect and defend the targeted muscle group. The pain is generally at its worst within the first two says following a new workout plan. As a result, your muscles will become inflamed and retain water. The scale will show a 3- to 4-pound weight gain in the next few weeks. So don’t worry – those extra pounds are not FAT, but water.
Weight gain after starting to exercise can be discouraging to most people. Luckily, it’s a temporary issue that doesn’t affect everyone. Some people recover after a few days, while other may need two or three weeks to return to their initial weight. While you may not be able to prevent muscle soreness completely, there are a few things you can do to reduce its symptoms. For the start, get more rest and warm up before your next workout routine. Try a massage or an ice bath to reduce muscle pain and swelling.
When you exercise regularly, your muscles get better and better at storing glycogen. Muscles need glycogen (stored glucose) to perform at their optimal level and recover after an intense workout. Pro athletes are able to work out and achieve fantastic results while depleting their glycogen stores (e.g.: when cutting or before a competition), but that’s a different story. We’re talking about the average person who has just started to exercise.
The human body holds 3 grams of water for each gram of additional glycogen stored in muscles. If you’ve started to work out, you’ll experience water retention as a result of glycogen replenishment. Don’t panic. Everyone goes through this phase. Actually, the scale might go up and down every day due to glycogen and DOMS.
To reduce water retention, you can either stick to a low carb/ketogenic diet or drink a herbal tea with mild diuretic effects (such as green tea). However, these strategies may not be appropriate for someone who is new to fitness.
The best thing you can do is to wait until your body weight becomes stable. Stop focusing on the scale so much. Pay attention to the way your clothes fit. Take an old pair of jeans that don’t fit you anymore and try them once every few weeks. This should help you figure out how much fat you’ve actually lost.
When you start working out or change your exercise routine, your muscles will grow and become stronger. If you exercise regularly and do both cardio and strength training, you’ll lose fat and gain lean muscle. Those who only do cardio and skip the weights will eventually become skinny fat, which is not good.
The point is that muscle weighs more than fat. As you build muscle, you’ll get heavier. At the same time, you’ll see the fat melting because your metabolism becomes faster. Check out at the most popular fitness models – they weigh a lot, but have perfect bodies with well-defined muscles and ripped abs.
For many of those who have gained weight after starting to exercise, compensatory eating is the culprit. That’s actually the most common cause of weight gain. Most people underestimate the number of calories consumed. At the same time, they overestimate the amount of calories burned during exercise. Some hit the gym as an excuse to indulge in sweets and junk food. “Well, I’ve worked out hard today. I deserve a cookie or a slice of pizza. What’s the worst the thing that could happen?” Does it sound familiar?
If your goal is to gain muscle, it’s important to take in more calories than you burn. However, those calories should come from quality foods that are rich in protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. If you want to lose weight, then you must consume fewer calories than you burn. Be aware that not all calories are created equal. 100 calories from steak are not the same as 100 calories from ice cream. You can read more about the way calories affect your body here.
In the Women’s Health Perfect Body Diet, Cassandra Forsythe says that “People think they can exercise and reward themselves.” While it is true that active people have higher calorie requirements and can indulge in their favorite foods once in a while, this doesn’t apply to those who have just started to work out and need to lose fat. If you need motivation, find other ways to reward yourself such as a massage, a new jacket, or a night out with your friends.
Stress and certain medications can also cause weight gain in people who have just started exercising. Your adrenal glands affect the way your body looks and how much it weighs. When you’re under stress, your body releases cortisol. This leads to mood swings, high blood sugar, fatigue, decreased metabolism, cravings for sugar and fatty foods, and greater levels of abdominal fat.
Increased levels of cortisol have been linked to emotional eating and cravings for unhealthy food. If you want to lose weight, you must change your lifestyle. Permanent weight loss and optimal health require more than exercise.