I love this question, because you won’t expect to gain weight after you begin a workout routine. But it’s one of the unexpected consequences of starting a new workout plan. Post-workout weight gain sounds ironic, but it happens. But telling you it happens is not enough, I’m going to break down why so that you know that you’re not doing anything wrong.
The reason behind initial weight gain when you start working out is an accumulation of fluid in your muscles after the initial stress on them. It’s related to something called Delayed Onset Muscle Recovery (DOMS for short) and the weight gain is only temporary.
You get microtears that happen when your muscles are challenged beyond their current limits. When these tears happen, your body goes to work repairing the muscles and building new muscle (which you want). This repair comes with some inflammation and of course some soreness
The inflammation causes your body to retain water, and this extra water is what’s registering as the extra weight on the scale.
So what do you do about it post-workout weight gain?
First, don’t panic and quit your new workout routine. Yes, you added a few pounds on the scale, but that weight is mostly from the water balance shift that happened from the hard work you put in with your workouts. Celebrate that.
Second, keep up with your workout routine. Give yourself at least a day between your workouts for your muscles to recover. Your body is doing some hard work while you’re resting, so don’t see your off days as wasted. They’re an essential part of the process.
Third, create structure around your weight check-ins. I have a few guidelines that I give my clients for weigh-ins. And the first guideline is that if you weigh yourself everyday, only take it seriously once a week. Your weight can fluctuate up to 5 lbs (about 2 kg) in one day, and you don’t want to catch every fluctuation. Instead you want to catch relevant trends.
Here are some guidelines to checking-in with your weight
Because your weight varies from one day to the next based on what you eat, drink, your hydration level, your activity level, and your hormonal levels, keep things simple with your check-ins. Here are some instructions to help you do that:
- Take your measurements first thing in the morning after waking up and using the bathroom for the first time (it doesn’t matter if it’s a #1 or #2)
- Do it naked or in the same clothes at each check in (to eliminate the variable of the weight of your clothes)
The reason we’re doing this is to eliminate as many variables as we can like:
- Time of day
- The weight of your clothes
- Whether or not you’ve gone to the bathroom
Also, do your check-ins on the same day each week. This helps you capture trends.
And that’s my answer to the question of post-workout weight gain after beginning a new workout routine.
If you’ve been working out for longer periods and see the number on the scale rising, click here to learn more about why this might be happening.
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