You Asked: ''Why Did I Gain Weight After Starting an Exercise Plan?''


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  20 comments   :  84,331 Views

It's true that many people either gain a little weight or don't see any change on the scale for as long as 4-6 weeks after making a significant change in their level of exercise. This is often explained as "gaining muscle while losing fat" but that isn't quite accurate. This extra weight is usually water. 

When you start doing more exercise, your body begins storing more fuel in your muscle cells, where it can be used easily and quickly to fuel your workouts. The process of converting glucose (carbohydrates) into fuel that your muscles actually store and use (glycogen) requires three molecules of water for every molecule of glucose. As your muscles are building up glycogen stores, your body has to retain extra water for this purpose. That's what causes most of the initial weight gain or lack of weight loss. This is a good thing--not something to worry about.

However, despite what the scale says, you are actually burning fat during this time. The extra water retention will stop once your body has adjusted to its new activity level. At that point, the scale should start moving down. You'll end up with less fat, and muscles that can handle a larger amount of work.

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  • 20
    Phew! That's good to know! - 12/31/2017   7:01:43 PM
  • 19
    so many people lose water weight then nothing and they get discouraged. i lost nothing so would have gotten discouraged too if i had not read this article. - 11/24/2017   1:43:37 PM
  • KATIEE67
    Thank you for this article. Was wondering why I have gained when I am exercising and watching everything I eat. I am now not so discouraged and hope to see pounds melt off in couple more weeks! - 10/20/2017   4:28:12 PM
  • 17
    Thank you, I needed this! - 9/20/2017   7:29:17 AM
  • 16
    Yes, this makes sense. 1 lb. of muscle and 1 lb. of fat weigh . . . ONE LB. NO difference. But muscle building, as you describe, DOES require water, and so the body does retain water for this process, AND the microscopic tears that happen in the muscles as they get larger from exercise release fluid. The body does get rid of it over time. - 6/13/2017   11:24:10 AM
  • 15
    But is this normal for an obese person? I have about 90lbs left to lose and when I go up 5lbs I internally freak out. :( I feel like since I have SO much fat on my body that I shouldn't be gaining anything, even if it's water or muscle. - 6/24/2016   3:00:28 PM
  • 14
    This has been my experience. It took 5 weeks of walking 20 miles/week before my body was willing to release its first pound. No large weight losses at the start of my journey. When my exercise routine changes, I typically see weight gain for 3 - 5 weeks while my muscles are adjusting to the new demands placed on them. - 6/12/2016   9:34:39 AM
  • 13
    Wow. I am so glad I read this article!!! I have gained almost 4 lbs in a month. I work out between 4-6 days a week. I strength train 2-3 a week. I shake things up a bit once in awhile, like, I might do a circuit training workout once or twice a week for a while. I also track my diet on SP. If i'm under calories, SP will let me know right after I log in my meals. I hope I see some better results soon - 1/4/2016   3:59:44 PM
    I wasnt' going to weigh today but I did and still says I seemed to have gained 5lbs since my lowest on May 23. I have increased my hand weights from 2/3lbs to 5lbs I do have TOM. Haven't changed anything. Doing strength 2 days and walking with Leslie Sansone 4. Confused. Lol should I log my weight gain? - 6/12/2015   7:33:12 AM
  • 11
    I feel so emotional about this article, lol. I actually am tearing up a little bit, because I have been experiencing this frustrating fact, and it's so hard. I've worked out 5 days a week for a little over a month now, and have only lost a few pounds. I lost 7lbs the first week, and in the last 3wks, my weight hasn't budged. So this was really helpful & encouraging. You feel hopeless enough (at a bigger weight) as it is, and even more so when you're actually DOING something about it and still not seeing results on the scale. This article was a blessing! Thank you! - 6/5/2015   2:37:18 PM
    I've been feeling like a hopeless failure until reading this. I've increased my activity level immensely....from nothing to swimming an hour a day six times a week and in the past two weeks I've managed to not only lose nothing but to gain a freaking pound. Guess I'll put the considered M&M binge on hold and keep plugging away. I am now feeling disappointed instead of discouraged. - 5/17/2015   7:24:57 AM
  • 9
    Been walking/running for a month. Getting ready for a 1/2 marathon in 8 weeks. Lost 6 pounds at first and then nothing and going up!!. Yeah, a little disappointed. THis is so encouraging!! I will be patient and wait for the drop. I feel great, jeans are not so tight. Must be doing something right!! - 3/14/2015   9:11:55 PM
    Thank you for this post!! I went from doing NO exercise to 10 minutes on the elliptical a day to doing two fifteen minute sessions mid morning and afternoon. I had been losing a pound to pound and a half per week. After two weeks of consistently doing the two fifteen minute sessions the scales showed a two pound gain last week. I'm so glad I read this article today because I will be more prepared for Monday morning if there isn't as much of a change as I was hoping to see and in the RIGHT direction! - 3/14/2015   8:16:07 PM
  • 7
    I suddenly feel a lot better. My calories are as low as I can go and I'm still maintaining the same weight despite the increase in activity. - 2/7/2015   3:34:20 AM
  • 6
    I am so glad to see this article right now, I have really increased my exercise routine and have not lost any weight in about 3 weeks. I was not really frustrated, because I can see and feel the difference in many areas, but the scale just has not moved. So I will just keep doing what I am doing! - 12/19/2014   10:57:33 PM
  • 5
    Thank you! Brief, informative, and just the boost I needed to see. I have a thyroid issue so the scale moves slowly as it is, but it's really slow when I exercise. In the past this has caused me to get frustrated very easily. All the more reason to focus on your body and how it feels instead of the scale when it comes to results. - 11/25/2014   6:43:22 AM
  • 4
    I started jogging last week. It was a really slow pace and now I am jogging a little faster, still slow and a little further. I only list .2 lbs this week. I will hang in there. - 7/6/2014   4:40:38 PM
  • 3
    I am so relieved. I hope I see a weight loss in the coming weeks. - 7/6/2014   2:31:33 PM
  • 2
    So true! And very encouraging! I've been doing Insanity for 5 weeks now and was beginning to wonder what was going on, but no worries now :)
    4 more weeks and I know the results will definitely show :)
    Thanks for the article! - 6/21/2014   12:37:18 PM
  • 1
    Exactly! Brief and to the point. So often you hear the fallacy that muscle weighs more than fat, which of course isn't possible. Different in density, yes, but a pound of anything is still a pound. The key is to hang in there and not quit. - 3/30/2014   5:24:13 PM

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