Let us set the scene: you’ve been working really hard at the gym and trying your best to stick to a healthy diet but when you step on the scale you see a higher number than you expected. Don’t panic! Lots of people have experienced gaining weight while working out, it’s actually pretty common and you’re not alone. There are lots of factors to consider when weight loss is concerned so before you let yourself get discouraged—check out five reasons you may not be seeing the weight loss you planned for.
When you first start exercising your body will naturally go through many changes in the first few months. New exercises can lead to inflammation or small tears in your muscle fibers as you build muscle mass. Your body will respond to this inflammation by temporarily retaining water. Let your body heal! Drink plenty of water, eat well and get as much sleep as you can. As a rule of thumb, you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should be drinking no less than 70 ounces of water a day.
Your body provides energy to your muscles by converting glycogen, or sugar, into glucose. When you begin exercising regularly your body stores more glycogen to fuel the extra movement. Glycogen has to bind with water in order fuel your muscles. As exercise becomes more routine over time, your muscles will become more efficient and need less glycogen to maintain your energy. As that happens, your muscles will retain less water and you will see that added weight come off!
In order to shed the pounds, you must have a caloric deficit. It can be difficult to keep track of everything you eat but try logging your meals once a week to check in on how much you’re actuallyeating (and drinking!). If you’re taking in more calories than you are working off—you won’t see the weight loss you are working towards. However, don’t try and shave off too many calories from your diet, that won’t help either and it’s not sustainable or healthy. Make small adjustments. Eat fewer processed foods and more whole foods (think foods on the outer walls of the grocery store) to round out your diet.
Weight loss is not a linear process and you aren’t going to see immediate results—no matter how much work you put in. If you didn’t gain 30 pounds overnight, you can’t expect to lose it that quickly either. Our bodies are incredible machines and when you introduce something new: exercise or dietary changes, our bodies need to recalibrate and make adjustments. Depending on the person, it can take weeks and even months for your body to respond. Be patient.
Muscle mass weighs more than fat mass and you will undoubtedly gain weight from lean muscle gains. While your clothes may feel looser, the scale may tell you otherwise. This is a win! You’re working a well-rounded program that includes both strength and conditioning and now you’re reaping the reward. And, for the record, I’ve been a trainer for almost 15 years, and I’ve never owned a scale. It doesn’t tell your story but signals like inches down, a sense of wellness, and feeling stronger than you were before are what you should use to track progress moving forward.
Try not to get too discouraged by what the number on the scale says. What’s really important is making healthy happen and investing in your health. How much you weigh is not nearly as critical as how great you feel in and outside of the gym.