Why Do You Gain Weight After Working Out?

By Amy Kreger

You work out to improve your health, but when step on the scale, your weight has increased. That could be frustrating, but understanding the short-term and long-term reasons for exercise-related weight gain will put those numbers into perspective.

Just After Exercise

Staying hydrated during your workout improves performance and exercise capacity. But every drop of water has weight, so if you hop on the scale immediately after completing a workout, you may find you have gained 1 or 2 pounds.

The Next Day

Your body can overcompensate by holding onto water if you didn't hydrate enough during your workout.

Exercise-related water weight gain may show up the next day if you didn't drink enough water during your workout. Thirsty cells in your body can overcompensate by holding onto water from the foods and drinks you consume throughout the rest of the day. You may experience as much as a 3-pound gain from this effect.

More Food

You may be eating more.

If the numbers on the scale have gone up slowly over a period of two or more weeks, you could be eating more to compensate for the exercise you are doing.

More Muscle

As you get stronger you may experience weight gain.

As you get stronger, you may also experience an increase in your muscle mass. You'll know this is happening if the numbers on the scale go up, but your clothing fits better.

Perspective: Nutrition

Track what you eat in a food journal.

Attention to your food intake improves the likelihood of reaching your weight goals, so be certain to track the quantity and quality of what you eat. Since working out can only burn on average seven calories per minute, it's easy to consume more than you lose through exercise.

Perspective: The Scale

Your weight fluctuates daily, pay attention to the weekly number on the scale.

Smart use of the scale can improve your chances of long-term weight management. To maximize accuracy, weigh yourself at the same time each day wearing the same amount of clothing. Day-to-day fluctuations are normal, so pay closer attention to the weekly trends in your weight.

References

About the Author

Amy Kreger has a Masters degree in health and physical activity and is an adjunct professor instructing anatomy and physiology at the college level. For more than 10 years she has also taught most forms of group exercise, from aerobic dance to group cycling and from kickboxing to yoga.

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