Why Your Workout May Be Causing Weight Gain

It may sound like a strange thing to GAIN weight after a workout, but the truth is that it happens a lot more than you realize! If you see yourself a few pounds heavier after your training session, don’t despair. Here are a few reasons your workout may be causing weight gain:

Increased Muscle Density

A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat (it’s a pound, after all), but you can start weighing more than you realize as your existing body fat is replaced by muscle. You may still be the same clothing size and not look much larger visibly, but your muscle mass will increase and thereby lead to weight gain as you work out and eat healthier. It’s not a day-to-day change, but something that happens over the course of weeks or months of regular workouts.

Water Retention

When you sweat a lot, your body tries to make up for the water loss by retaining any water you consume after your workout. So that half-bottle you emptied on your way to the car or back to work or home is now going to be stored until your body senses that you’re properly hydrating and no longer in danger of dehydration. Water weight gain is common after a workout, and you can end up as much as 10 pounds heavier because your body is desperate to cling to water to prevent dehydration.

Regular Post-Workout Weight Gain

Remember that the number you see on the scale is just a number, but it doesn’t take into account things like muscular inflammation, hydration, blood volume, urine output, and the contents of your stomach. It’s normal for you to experience a measure of weight gain after a high-intensity resistance training workout, as it’s the short-term effects of the workout on your body. You should see the weight disappear in a day or two.

Post-Workout Nutrition

Unless you step on the scale immediately after your workout, it’s very possible that you’re going to end up weighing the post-workout snack or protein shake you consumed. It may not feel like a lot, but a good-sized post-workout smoothie can be as much as 1 liter, which will weigh up to 2 or 3 pounds. Plus, there’s all the water you drank on your way out of the gym. Everything is sitting in your stomach, adding to the weight you see on the scale.

Workout Weight Gain Isn’t a Bad Thing

Gaining weight after working out is pretty normal—it’s your body’s response to the physical activity you just put yourself through. Your body is scrambling to make repairs, replenish lost calories and fluids, and recover from the high-intensity activity. Your internal functions are going to be running overtime and working hard, so things will take a while to settle down. Weighing yourself after a workout is as bad as weighing yourself after a meal: it’s never going to give you the most accurate picture of your weight loss or gain.

When Should You Weigh Yourself?

The best time to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning, after a full night’s rest. You are at your “lightest”, but you’ve also not eaten anything for 7 to 10 hours, so you know that it’s as close to “true” body weight as possible without fluid or food weighing you down. When you wake up, use the bathroom to empty your body, then step onto the scale to take a measurement. Your weight will go up throughout the day, but at least weighing yourself in the morning gives you an accurate, controlled measurement every morning.

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