Beginner’s Excercise Weight Gain Explained

So you have just joined a gym and started your brand new workout program. You do a couple of weeks of your new workout routine and you are monitoring the scale for proof that all of your hard work is actually paying off. However, each time you check the scale your weight is not going down, but rather it is staying the same or you seem to be actually gaining weight.  What in the world is going on?  Doesn’t burning more calories by working out and being more active result in weight loss?

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. When you are just beginning a fitness routine, it can be frustrating and really confusing to not see the results that you are expecting, or were even promised! Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged and quit working out altogether. Instead, let’s get some clarity around what is actually happening to your body at the start of your new  workout program.  With the correct understanding and attitude, these minor setbacks should only be temporary.

1. Inflammation

Taking on new exercise challenges often comes inflammation of your muscle.  What is going on here is form of “trauma” from micro-tears in your muscles.  There is no need to worry as this is just your body breaking down your current muscles in order to build better ones.  This inflammation just will make you feel temporarily sore and stiff.  This is temporary.

Coinciding with the soreness and stiffness you might notice a few additional pounds on the scale.  The additional weight is the muscle’s first response to the “trauma” of breaking down the old muscle.   What is happening behind the scenes is your body bringing fluids to the affected muscles to expedite the healing process.  This process is essential to progress your building of strength. If the inflammation is causing your weight gain, it should only last for couple of week while your body adjusts to it’s new workout demands.

2. Increased Glycogen Storage

In addition to your recovering muscles storing water to help during the repair process, your body begins storing glycogen. Think of glycogen as fuel for your muscles; it’s the energy storage form of carbohydrates, yes carbs! Working out naturally depletes your glycogen levels.  However, after beginning a workout regimen, your body will notice that it’s demand for energy has increased.  In turn, it will start stocking up on Glycogen in addition to the water for recovery. The weight gain you could experience in this case should also be only temporary. One of your body’s superpowers is the ability to become extremely effective at predicting your fueling needs and efficient calorie burning.

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3. Gaining Muscle Faster Than Losing Fat

One of the lesser common reasons for an initial weight gain is that you could actually be gaining muscle faster than you are losing fat!  Muscle is naturally heavier and denser than fat. More so than just reflecting on the scale, you might actually look like you are more out of shape  and your clothing might be a tighter fit.  However, by pushing through this roadblock, the new muscle will help your metabolism improve; resulting in burning the layer of fat above.  The new lean muscle will show itself soon.

*** It is good to take note that most people can gain an average of two pounds a month in muscle mass. If you gain more than this, you might want to investigate other reasons for the additional weight gain.

4. Dietary Opportunities

While being active your new exercise program will increase your metabolism and caloric burn, it will also increase your appetite. This effect is actually caused by a hormone known as ghrelin, which is referred to as, “the hunger hormone.”  Simply put, ghrelin functions by signaling to your brain that it is time to eat. Following a diet that includes whole grains and/or high protein suppresses ghrelin most effectively.  If you find yourself choosing snacks and eating larger portions than usual, you might be feeding your ghrelin monster inappropriately; thus causing your weight gain.  If you don’t think you are overeating, make sure to do a survey of what the quality of your meals entail. Processed foods and snacks that are loaded with sugar, trigger blood-sugar reactions that can interfere with your progress. Remember that natural high protein and whole grain foods are the quality choices to support your overall fitness.

Continuing to gain weight after all steps you have taken to get healthy and fit can be extremely discouraging.  Take in to consideration the aforementioned factors might just be interfering with your progress, and the scale. Continue all of the positive progress you are making and pay special attention to food you are consuming on your path to fitness.  If you simply trust the work at, and trust the process, you will see the results you desire!

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