A common concern I get from my health coaching clients is they notice a small weight gain after they start exercising. What?! Isn’t exercising supposed to take the pounds off – not on!
Why can weight gain occur after you start exercising?
When you start moving your body, on a regular basis, your body will go through several changes in the first couple months. (Months?! Yes months, but hear me out… keep reading)
- Muscle fibers: Exercise causes small micro tears in your muscles, also known as micro trauma, and there may be a small amount of inflammation around the micro-tear. Your body retains water there to try to heal it. (Think blister)
- Muscle fuel: Your muscles require glycogen or sugar to function, which they convert to glucose. When you exercise regularly, your body stores more glycogen to fuel that exercise. However, glycogen is stored in (you guessed it) water! Glycogen binds with the water as part of the process to fuel the muscle. For every ounce of glycogen stored, your body stores 3 ounces of water. Water = weight. As your muscles become accustomed to the physical load of your exercise and, in turn, more efficient, they begin to demand less glycogen. As your muscles become more efficient, it reduces the amount of water retention. This can take a few weeks or up to a month. Trust the process.
- Lean muscle mass: After a month of two of regular exercise, you may notice weight gain resultant from lean muscle mass. A scale is not an accurate measurement of your fitness level. Muscle weighs more than fat.
When you start a new exercise program, do not drastically cut calories.
The body is an amazing machine and it needs fuel to function optimally.
Your body needs calories (energy) to spark recovery. Without energy, it can’t recover. If provided the right fuel, your metabolism will speed up. If denied of proper fuel, your metabolism will decrease, plummet, drop, kurplunk.
If you’ve ever dieted, you’ve discovered that eating too little is detrimental to weight loss. In the absence of calories, the body starts to slow its metabolism to conserve energy. This is why you may plateau after a few weeks of weight loss with extreme diets or even gain weight.
Don’t use a scale to determine your fitness.
Eat right, fuel your body, and trust the process.
A scale only tells you the amount of resistance your body has against gravity. By trusting the process, you will see results in your physique, your mindset, and your energy level. And these can’t be measured with a number.
- Do you want to incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle but don’t know where to start?
- Do you want to run a faster 5K?
- Do you want to do something but have not idea what that is!?