Gaining Instead of Losing Weight When Exercising

Maybe you've heard of this happening to someone else, or maybe it has happened to you. You finally decide to start exercising. And after a couple of weeks the only thing you accomplish is to gain weight! Unless this was your intention, you would likely be extremely disappointed to the point of quitting your exercise program. However, you need to understand that there are some good reasons why some weight gain is experienced when you first start to exercise.

First: If you begin to lift weights you may gain some muscle with very little fat loss, at least at the beginning. However, muscle is more dense than fat and therefore weighs more. So it will also contribute to your over all weight. Make sure you combine any weight training program with a cardio program. Read below for more information.

Second: Glycogen storage. This is a form of sugar that is stored in your muscles and liver. If you begin to exercise and use up this glycogen your body will try to replace it. However, the human body is very adaptable and will anticipate future depletion so it will therefore store more. Now, glycogen can not be stored by itself, it requires a lot of water. So, your body stores more glycogen and therefore you gain weight from water retention. The best way to avoid this is to allow the body to become accustomed to exercise by keeping up a regular and consistent program. It may also help if you:

  • Exercise regularly. e.g. Do NOT run for 2 hours on Saturday, and then nothing again until Wednesday.
  • Avoid excess salt consumption, which also contributes to water retention.
  • Drink plenty of water. By drinking plenty of water the body is not put in a water-depletion mode, and will therefore not try to store excess water.

Third: Many people over estimate how many calories they burn during exercise. And because of this, they eat more thinking they deserve it or thinking they are at a negative caloric intake. For example, running hard for 30 minutes will only burn about 200 - 300 extra calories. Does this sound like a lot? Well, not really. A couple of extra mouth fulls at your next meal, maybe a couple of extra cookies, or maybe an extra muffin and you've quickly made up the 200-300 calories you've lost. On top of that, many people will over eat almost every meal, not just the one after the workout. To prevent this keep a log of your eating habits and monitor your weight regularly. Also drink plenty of water so you don't confuse thirst with hunger, which is quite common.

Forth: If you've started to consume supplements, especially protein or creatine, then you may be consuming too many calories. Although protein consumption is critical for tissue rebuilding, many people don't realize that it is also calories. In fact, each gram of protein will equal to 4 calories, the exact same as carbohydrates. So, for example, if you take an extra 50 grams of protein per day, that's an extra 200 calories. Also, protein powders taste awful, so the produces add include sugar in the package, perhaps another 200 calories. Well, that's an extra 400 calories. If you don't work this off it can quickly result in weight gain, and most of it in the form of fat. Read the package carefully to know exactly what you are consuming. This also goes for protein bars, which most of them contain sugars for taste.

Beware of sport drinks: They are great for re-hydrating, but they also contain quite a few calories. That's why they taste good. So, consume in moderation and read the labels so you know the caloric intake. You can also dilute them with water to reduce the amount of sugars consumed.

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