You head to the gym because you know that exercise burns calories and helps you to shed extra pounds.
Knowing this, you may think that losing weight should be easy with enough exercise. However the truth is that if you aren't accustomed to exercising and are out of shape, beginning an exercise program may actually lead to an initial increase in your weight.
This fact, however, shouldn't stop you from exercising, as you’ll eventually turn the weight corner and start losing.
What is it about exercise that may cause some people to gain instead of lose weight?
Muscle: One of the main reasons exercising can lead to initial weight gain is that it promotes the growth of muscle.
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 than fat. Therefore, the weight you gain is in your muscles.
Don’t sweat it. Since muscles take up less space than fat, your extra weight doesn’t necessarily translate to larger size. In fact, once you start working out, you’ll become thinner, even if you maintain your previous 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.
Cardiovascular activities like walking, running, or swimming will encourage the growth of lean, toned muscles. Other activities such as weight lifting promote the growth of larger, stronger muscles.
But there is good news in this. If you stick with the 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 may just be building muscle faster than losing body fat. This can be especially true if you’re genetically prone to building muscle fast. The key is to incorporate bouts 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.
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. After a good workout, you may see an ice cream sundae as a reward for the calories you burned. Just be careful. If you’re interested in losing pounds, you can’t simply break even with your caloric intake and the amount of calories you burn.
At the same time, eating too few calories can be counterproductive and slow your weight loss. Without enough calories, your body may slow its metabolism. So eat plenty to keep your body well fueled, but choose healthy calories that will help your body recover after a workout and grow stronger.
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 have recently consumed or the amount of water you have shed in sweat. It is therefore important to weigh yourself at the same time each day.
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Give It Time
Whatever the cause of your weight influx after exercising, don't give up! Not only is exercise the key to slimming down, 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 results that you seek!