I just started working out – Why am I gaining weight?

I just started working out – Why am I gaining weight?

Morning, friends!

I try to write about 3 things:

1. Things that God is teaching me
2. Things I love
3. Things that people often ask about

This particular one falls in #3 so,wanted to share with the rest of you guys 🙂

So, you’re a week in to your new exercise program and you’ve “gained 3 lbs.” Fear not, my friend. Because this is not body fat (unless you  somehow consumed an additional 10,500 calories that week.)

So, how am I working out AND gaining weight, you ask?  Sadly, in just a week, you’re not likely putting on lean muscle weight BUT, don’t panic, you’re working on it, yay! Which brings me to point #1 some reasons why you might have put on a few lbs. your first few weeks.

    • Temporary Inflammation

      Exercise puts stress on your muscle fibers. Good stress (there are three levels, you can read more about those here) but, stress nonetheless. This causes small microtears/microtrauma and some inflammation (which is why I HIGHLY recommend using this product immediately post workout – which warrants its own post for another day.)

      Your body responds to those microtears in two ways that may cause some temporary water weight gain. The first is a healing response (also how you BUILD muscle) but, the stress and micro-tearing of the fibers creates water retention. These are short lived and necessary responses in the beginning of your fitness journey and building lean muscle which, is needed for a more efficient metabolism. So, hydrate and recover properly with the right nutrition and give your muscles REST (5-6 day a week #OTF’ers, I’m talking to YOU!) so that they can HEAL & REBUILD.

    • Increased Muscle Fuel ( but not the infamous pre-workout kind)

      Your muscles need energy to do the work you’re asking them to do. Your muscles convert glycogen, or sugar to glucose. That is the energy source for your muscles (have you ever noticed your workouts are better if you have some carbohydrate prior to? Another #OTF hint here!) When you exercise regularly, your body stores glycogen to fuel your muscles. And you need to replenish those stores after a workout (again, see above for the best way to do that.) Glycogen has to bind to water as part of the process to fuel your muscles so, you might notice some water weight gain there as well. The good news is that as you stay consistent in your workout routine, your muscles get used to that exercise and become more efficient, needing less glycogen to fuel the same level of energy output so, you retain less water. You will lose this water weight the first few weeks of a consistent workout program and proper nutrition.

    • Lean Muscle Gain

      Not as likely in the context of what we’re talking about here but, there may be another post about that on another day.

    • Your Diet Needs to Be Dialed In

      When you eat, you take in calories. When you exercise, you burn, or expend calories. The macronutrient balance DOES matter however, let’s just keep it simple here. Calories in, calories out. Now, when you exercise, you are expending calories (yay!) but, it also increases the levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger* so, if you’re not paying attention to portion sizes, or the macronutrients in foods, you may take in more calories than you’re expending (don’t even get me started on peanut butter again! #peanutgate2017)

    • Too. Much. Stress.

      We’ve already talked about the 3 levels of stress and exercise being Level 1, the ‘good’ kind of stress, right? As long as you are getting proper nutrition (macro AND micronutrients), rest and recovery, your body adapts and this is how you progress.

      Well, let’s talk about Levels 2 & 3. The not-so-good kind. Lifestyle stress. Here we are talking about work stress – long hours, financial stress, chronic lack of sleep, regular alcohol consumption, eating a standard, American junk-filled diet, too much time on social media,(don’t even act like this doesn’t stress you out! Again, another post for another day…), etc. When you add exercise stress on top of this, it contributes to total stress on your body. No bueno.

      So the inflammation we talked about in the first point, doesn’t actually progress to the healing and progressing phase and you end up with chronic inflammation. You do not want this, people. Why not, you ask? Well, you increase the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, and that in turn, can promote accumulation of fat, i.e. the weight gain we really do not want!

      If you are living in the land of Level 2 & 3 stress, give it to Jesus. And then shoot me an email so we can talk. I used to live there and there really is a better way, I promise!

    • What To Do

      Keep going! We didn’t get out of shape overnight so, don’t expect to get in great shape overnight! It takes consistent effort and discipline in the gym and in the kitchen. Take a look at your lifestyle and don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone who’s got more experience and a track record of helping people achieve their health and fitness goals (and it’s probably not the guy at GNC or that one website you googled…just sayin’!)


Hope you guys found this helpful! More questions? Don’t hesitate to post in comments or email me. Love hearing from you guys! 🙂


* cited from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17212793

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