Why Do You Gain Weight When You Start Exercising?

A challenger messaged me yesterday, concerned because she was doing all the right things (exercise, water, nutrition), yet she noticed she had gained weight. Obviously, when you’re trying so hard to LOSE weight, it’s very frustrating to see the scale go up!!

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I spent a lot of time trying to find a comprehensive article for reasons you will see weight gain when exercising, but none of the ones I found made me happy. So here are the reasons I am sharing:

1. Water weight. When you exercise to the point that your body gets sore, the soreness is from micro tears in your muscles (those are a good thing!). Your body has to repair those muscles, which is how you get stronger, and the muscles hold water while doing so. In the beginning, you can hold a LOT of water while your body is trying to figure out what you are doing. The scale doesn’t discriminate between fat weight or water weight, it just knows you weigh more. Keep pushing and your body will eventually flush it out.

2. Stress. Your body may not be used to the changes you are making in exercise and/or diet, and it doesn’t know what to do about it. So again, it may hold on to water or calories/fat while it’s trying to decide what’s going on. As you continue with your program, it realizes you aren’t trying to kill yourself, and it lets out a sigh of relief along with the water and calories it was holding onto.

3. Glycogen storage. When you start an aerobic program (CIZE or running or whatever), your muscles get better at storing fuel, which is what glycogen is. You can store it in your muscles and your liver. For every gram of glycogen stored, your body also stores 3 grams of water. Yet another instance of water retention, but don’t fret! The better your body can store glycogen as fuel, the less it will need to store fat.

4. Food. When we exercise more, we burn more calories, and our bodies naturally try to find homeostasis/balance. It has somewhat of a comfort zone. If you’re burning extra calories, your body is going to want you to get those calories back somehow. You may be eating back more calories that what you’ve burned off, without realizing it. They only way to know for sure is to measure and track EVERY SINGLE THING YOU EAT.

Conversely, it is possible to eat too FEW calories for your body to be able to properly burn fat. If you eat less than what your body needs to function each day, it basically over-stresses your body and it stores every calorie you give it, because it is preparing for starvation. Eat healthy foods, eat often, and fuel your body.

5. You’re just a girl. Really. Most of us (if not all of us) in here are girls, and we know that our weight can fluctuate greatly from day to day. We bloat, thanks to hormones, and that can make our pants not fit or the scale increase. Not much we can do about this one except know that it’s normal.

So….here is what I suggest after saying all of that…

Focus more on inches and photos and how you feel. Is the scale being stupid but your pants are fitting better? Do you see more muscle definition in your arms or legs? Do you have more energy and a more positive feeling each day? Do you enjoy what you’re doing? If so, forget that silly scale!! That number isn’t as important as any of these other things.

If you just need to see your weight change, and you prefer that type of measurement, try either of these methods instead:

— Weigh yourself at the same time every single day. Yes, EVERY DAY. Right after you wake up and use the bathroom, naked. Write it down. Your weight can change from day to day, but you should be able to see an overall trend going down. I am actually 2 pounds heavier today than I was yesterday, but I know I ate salty foods last night ((and I need to poop)). And my period is due basically any day now, so that isn’t helping either.

— Weigh yourself only once per week. Again, first thing in the morning after using the bathroom, and no clothes. Write it down every week.

If you see your weight increasing by 5 pounds or more after about 2 weeks of consistent exercise and eating well, there may be another issue. It could be what you’re eating or how you’re eating, or there could be a health concern.


Coach Amanda

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Alcohol vs. Weight Loss

Some of my readers asked me to write about this topic…and some really don’t want to read about it. Luckily this is my blog and I can write about whatever I want! Ha! Continue reading if you so desire…

So. Alcohol. It can be a friend at times, and it can also be your worst enemy. Regardless of how you feel on the subject of alcohol consumption, when you have health and fitness goals (and specifically, a goal of weight loss), alcohol really isn’t going to do you any favors.

That's water in my glass. Promise. It only looks like beer...in a wine glass. Don't judge me.

That’s water in my glass. Promise. It only looks like beer…in a wine glass.
Don’t judge me.

In a nutshell, here are 8 ways alcohol is not a good idea when you’re trying to lose weight:

1. It has more calories per gram than do carbs or protein, and almost as many calories as a gram of fat. Pure alcohol actually has 7 calories per gram, while carbs and protein each have 4. Fat has 9 calories per gram. It really starts to add up when you have those drinks…and if you’re like me, a glass of wine isn’t actually ONE glass of wine. It’s almost half the bottle in a really big glass haha.

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2. There are lots of added calories to many drinks. That margarita? Oh yeah, tons of carbs in that drink. Beer? Carb city. White Russian? Carbs AND fat in that one. Unless you’re drinking shots, you most likely have additional calories added to your drink. (This is not an encouragement to drink shots. Don’t twist my words.)

3. Alcohol persuades you to eat all those things that are NOT on your meal plan. It also stimulates your appetite. Pretzels, chips (and guac!!), nuts, and all those yummy snacky foods that we want to munch on when we’ve been drinking. Yeah, inhibitions are out the window and food is getting in the belly. And if you have too much to drink, you know you’ll be at the Waffle House trying to sober up with eggs, bacon, toast, and grits. That’s going to make your pants snug for sure.

4. Now for the science — alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to digest and burn fat. Alcohol is mostly absorbed and processed by the liver, and doesn’t need to be digested. Because the body sees alcohol as a toxin, it works to get rid of it first. So what does that mean? It means that all of the other carbs, proteins, and fats that your body takes in….they get pushed aside….in the form of fat storage. Yep. While Mr. Liver is busy taking care of that alcohol, the fat burning process takes a nap and every other calorie is stored — on your belly, on your thighs, behind your upper arm (oh that’s the WORST).

Go ahead and raise your glass. Your upper arm is going to wave at everyone for you.

Go ahead and raise your glass. Your upper arm is going to wave at everyone for you.

5. Alcohol also suppresses testosterone production. So if you were planning on making some gainz, alcohol is going to fight you on that. And no matter how buff you are, this is one battle you aren’t going to win.

6. Sorry sleepyhead, I know you think that alcohol will help you sleep (and no doubt that a glass of wine will help you relax when you’re stressed), but it doesn’t actually contribute to a restful sleep. Alcohol can interfere with the amount of deep sleep you get at night; so when you’re tired the next day, you’re more likely to overeat. Oh man, there are actually LASTING effects of drinking on weight loss??!! Bummer.

7. Alcohol reduces motivation. You aren’t going to want to exercise after you’ve opened that Summer Shandy. And if you have too much the night before, you realllly aren’t going to want to hit the gym before work. Headache + treadmill = a mess the gym employees don’t want to clean up. Do I need to mention how bad you’re going to smell when you sweat out that alcohol? Didn’t think so.

8. And of course I’m going to point out — there is zero nutrition in alcohol. Don’t even try to tell me that pina colada counts as a fruit. It doesn’t. And just because wine comes from grapes, it isn’t a fruit either. I don’t know about you, but when I am on a strict meal plan, I choose my calories wisely. I’d rather not waste them on something that isn’t going to prep my body for prime performance.

Am I saying you should never drink anything with alcohol? No, of course not. I don’t plan to become a teetotaler (that’s a fancy word for someone who abstains 100% of the time) and I wouldn’t ask you to do that either just for the sake of weight loss. However, when I am laser focused on a specific goal, or when I am in competition prep (or a cut, as you males like to call it), I most definitely will not be drinking casually. I may enjoy one glass on rare occasion, but I will be making a conscious decision to do that with full awareness of the consequences. Most times, I do like to enjoy a beer or glass of wine. Just remember what it does to your body, and take that into consideration when you make that choice.

Does this match my goals