Why Am I Gaining Weight?
November 29, 2016

You were all excited, finally taking those tentative first steps towards getting into better shape. Maybe you simply started noticing the positive benefits enjoyed by your friends who have already incorporated regular physical activity into their lives. Realizing that you want to be as healthy as possible for your loved ones may be propelling you towards exercise as well.

However, shortly after you started this incredibly positive move forward, you noticed that you were actually gaining weight. How can that be? Isn’t exercise supposed to cause you to lose weight, you know, as part of the making-you-healthier process?

Don’t Fret

This happens to many who start exercising for a variety of reasons. The important thing to do is to focus on the big picture, the long haul, understanding that you are making yourself healthier as a result of incorporating exercise into your life even if short-term results may not appear to be heading in a positive direction.

Day-To-Day Weight Fluctuations Are Normal

In fact, even those who have been active on a regular basis for years still experience day-to-day weight and other differences that may not make sense if looked at in a vacuum, but when you take a step back and look at the overall trend, it is clear that it is either heading in a positive direction or remaining steady at a healthy level for those who have been active for a while.

These day-to-day weight gains can be the result of things like:

  • water weight
  • sodium levels
  • glycogen stores

A healthy weight loss goal is shaving off 1-3 pounds in an average week. However, your day-to-day fluctuations will likely equal or exceed that, so that’s another reason not to fret too much over short-term weight changes. That’s why many compare people’s weights to the stock market – too many people get too emotionally high or low because of day-to-day changes when the big picture should be the focus.

But These Weight Gains Are Lasting Weeks

When you start exercising regularly after a period of relative inactivity, you might experience extensive periods of weight increase or stagnation lasting weeks. Unfortunately, about half of those who start an exercise program drop out of it within the initial few months, and many of them likely do so because they get discouraged that results are not immediate and even appear to be heading in a negative direction.

You’re Replacing Fat With Muscle

In fact, this is one explanation that may be true for quite a while, especially if you are focused on weightlifting. The reason for this is that while you are burning off fat, which is a really good thing, you are putting on lean muscle mass, which weighs more than fat. Do note that weight gain occurring for this reason often does not start until you are several weeks into your exercise program.

Your Muscles Are Getting Inflamed

When you start exercising, your muscles experience micro tears, which are necessary to strengthen them. However, this inflammation process does cause temporary weight gain, especially during the first day or two after you begin as your muscles get used to the additional activity.

Overeating

Depending on how much you regularly ate prior to commencing this exercise program, you likely should have upped your calorie intake a little in order to give you the energy to power through those workouts and to help your body mend and get more powerful. However, you do still want to ensure that you are eating an appropriate amount of food and, perhaps more importantly, a healthy variety of it.

But if you are taking in more calories than you are burning off, simple mathematics show that you will gain weight in the long run. Fortunately, the reverse is also true.