It is common knowledge that exercise burns calories and helps you to shed extra pounds.
Armed with this knowledge, you may think that losing weight should be easy with enough exercise. The truth is that for those who aren’t used to exercising and are out of shape, beginning an exercise program may actually lead to scale-weight gain.
What is it about exercise that may cause some people to gain instead of lose weight?
1. Muscle Mass - The main reason exercising can lead to weight gain is that it promotes the growth of muscle mass.
If you are not used to working out and haven’t used certain muscles regularly, after exercising your muscles will be sore and will increase in size. While you may burn off fat, muscle is denser, therefore, the weight you gain is in your muscles.
And take heart. Since muscles take up less space than fat, your extra weight does not translate to larger size. In fact, once you start working out you’ll probably become slimmer, even if you maintain your previous scale-weight. Instead of using a scale to determine if you are slimming down, have your body fat tested regularly or measure your body at certain areas.
If you see that you’re losing inches, then you know you’re on the right track.
There is good news in this. If you stick with an exercise program, your muscles will soon stabilize in size and after a time become toned. After your muscles are strong and able to handle more strenuous workouts, you will be able to burn calories faster.
While it may be frustrating and disappointing to see the scale go up after starting an exercise routine, it shouldn’t stop you from exercising. You are just building muscle faster than losing body fat. The key is to incorporate plenty of cardio exercise in addition to strength training. That way you will burn plenty of calories during your routine and be more able to shed pounds.
2. Eating Habits - When you work out and burn calories your body will feel the need to replace those burned calories.
This may make you feel hungrier than usual, which can cause you to eat more than normal – sometimes without knowing it. A good idea is to keep a food journal to track of the actual number of calories you are consuming.
You may also end up eating more calories and justifying their consumption since you’re exercising (let’s be honest, we’ve all done it). After a good workout an ice cream sundae may seem like a justifiable reward for the calories you’ve burned. Be careful. If you want to lose weight you can’t simply break-even with your caloric intake and the amount of calories you burn.
Be warned, eating too few calories can be as counterproductive and slow your weight loss. Without enough calories your metabolism may slow. So make sure you eat plenty to keep your body well fuelled, but choose healthy calories that will help your body recover after a workout and grow stronger.
3. Hydration – Depending on the time of day you weigh yourself, the scale may read differently. Your weight can fluctuate as much as five pounds depending on the amount of water or food you’ve consumed or the amount of water you have shed via sweat. It is therefore important to weigh yourself at the same time each day.
Give It Time
Whatever the cause of your weight gain after exercising, don’t give up! Not only is exercise the key to shedding pounds, but it is also vital for overall health and well-being. Give your body time to respond to a new routine. It can take several weeks for your body to “recalibrate” itself to increased activity and changes in eating habits. But once it does, you’ll begin seeing the weight-loss results you seek.