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Why You Are Gaining Weight When you Start an Exercise Program

gaining weight, weight loss, fitness

Have you started your weight loss program and you find yourself gradually gaining weight? Weight loss can be extremely frustrating for everyone! You put in all this hard work and your weight continues to climb? If this sounds like your situation, do not be alarmed. You are not unique and there is a way to avoid this from occurring. Over the years of training others and myself, I have had my ups and downs during this long process of body fat and weight loss. To be honest, it has taken over a year to really fine tune what works best for others and me. Too often we expect one workout program or nutrition plan to be our magical cure for weight and body fat loss. Reaching your goals takes a lot of time and effort! Too many times I see people expecting these unbelievable transformations in the 1st couple of weeks. If you think you are going to put minimal effort into your goals, then minimal results can be expected!

7 Reasons Why You Are Gaining Weight vs. Losing It

1. You are Loading Up on Calories and Gaining Weight

Have you started a new weight lifting program and you are throwing around some heavy weights? Have you ever noticed that you feel more hungry throughout the day? When we lift weights, our bodies need food to help heal and restore the muscles for the next weightlifting session.This is not something that we can avoid but we also need to manage in order to lose weight. One of the worst things you can do for weight and body fat loss is snacking on those salty delicious snacks. Your body is craving food but we need to put the right foods and portion sizes in our bodies throughout the day. If this sounds like you then I have a solution. If you are someone who eats 3 big meals a day, how about spreading out that food into 4-6 small meals every 3-4 hours. With these 4-6 meals, combining your proteins, fats and carbs can not only help replenish your body after a workout but it can keep your metabolism burning the wanted calories for weight loss.

2. You are Building Muscle and Gaining Weight

If you did not know this, weight lifting builds muscle! If your diet and weight lifting program is perfectly in check, you can build muscle fast. Did you know that if you gain 2 lbs of muscle a month, you are doing great? On the other side of this is that you can gain muscle faster than you burn fat. This is where you need to be close to spot on with your nutrition program. In a nutshell, if you eat more calories and lift heavy weights, you can gain muscle. But what happens if we do not burn more than we take in? We gain fat and weight. Follow this plan on calories and great things can happen.

3. Inflammation is Causing you to Gain Weight

When we lift weights, did you know that you are creating little micro tears in the fibers? Do not be alarmed, this is the beginning stages of muscle healing and growth. Inflammation is our body’s natural mechanism to heal itself and grow. Inflammation can also be negative if you have poor habits such as an unhealthy diet, little to know exercise and eating too much junk food. Also if you are somebody who works out too much, too much inflammation with continue to be inside of your body. If you keep breaking down the muscle without giving at least 24 hours to recover, this can create weight gain, increased soreness and can lead to overtraining! Some foods that can help reduce chronic inflammation are foods rich in antioxidants such as broccoli, kale, carrots turnips, berries, salmon, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and nuts.

4. Taking in More Calories than you Burn is Causing you to Gain Weight

If you know little about weight and body fat loss, understand that in order to achieve this you need to burn more calories than you take in! There are 3,500 calories in one pound. In order to lose 1 lb a week (which is a healthy approach to weight loss), you need to burn 500 calories more per day than you take in. Sounds simple but we can make this process difficult to accomplish. How do we do this?

1. You are going to have to get off your butt and burn calories. This can involve any activity (does not have to be exercising or a sport). Doing yard work or chores around the house will not only make your house clean but it is a great way to get moving around.
2. Keep track of your calories. I do not want to hear that you do not have 10 mins of your day to measure out and track what you put in your body. When we say that we do not have time, this is showing that you are not 100% committed to your goals.
3. Keep track of how many calories you burn a day.

5. Your Diet is Limited and you’re Gaining Weight

Do you know what macronutrients are and do you know how much you should have a day? Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. All of these work together to build a proper nutritional plan. If you are someone who is looking to lose weight and have no idea how many carbs, protein, and fats they should have a day. Then a simple plan can be put in place to put you in the best possible situation to lose weight.

I used to be one of those people who used to say carbs were bad and you should avoid them. This can be a great way to lose weight fast, but in the long run, you will most likely crash and burn. Trust me I have been there! Fats and carbs are very similar, they give us the energy to fuel our days. If you limit both of them, you are not giving yourself the proper amount of energy for the day. If you are going to drop your carbs, then you need to replace that with more fats and vice versa.

6. Drinking your Calories is Making you Gain Weight

Everybody loves their post workout shake to help replenish you after a brutal workout. Some might even go to Starbucks and order a crapachino to reward themselves of a tough workout. Yes, fruit is good for you! It is healthy for you, but it has natural sugar that if not burned gets turned into fat fast. I have nothing against post workout smoothies. You need to realize that if you are on a lower carb intake diet, your fruit and protein shake is going to take up a good amount of carbs. This means that the rest of the day is most likely going to be very low in carbs and this can make some of you carbosauruses very cranky!!

For you people out there who love to hit the sports bar out on a Friday night.  Drinking is going to make it hard to lose weight. If you know you are going to hit the bars at night, the meals before that need to be low to make sure you do not overload on calories. Alcohol calories are empty and they do not have any value for a healthy lifestyle.  Even though they are empty, they still are calories and they still need to be accounted for!

8. You are Stressed Out and Gaining Weight

How many of you eat when you are stressed out? Like what most people say, “chocolate makes me happy”. I never really felt so stressed that I needed to have something to make me happy. Unfortunately, life can be very stressful. Your boss is riding you, you have to be in 10 places at once for your children. I hear a lot of people say when they are stressed and eat a lot is “I am human”! Yes, you are human but have we figured out new ways to work out our stress? If you are having time balancing your life with your children’s lives, have you mapped out times you can fit in a quick at home workout or run outside. Some people do well when they are stressed, but reaching for that oh so good chocolate bar is not going to help you get to where you need to be successful.

8. Water Retention

Water retention can be extremely frustrating for most people.  When you weigh in, it fluctuates and it can drive you crazy.  When we describe water retention, this can occur from the foods we eat (fatty, processed and high sodium foods), fluids from throughout the day and how active you were that day.  In some cases, you can be 3-5 lbs heavier one day and then be 3-5 lbs less the next.  If you know that you carry a lot of water, this is a good sign that getting outside and moving around more can help eliminate excessive retention.


If you are someone who is thinking that they will never lose weight, you need to get out of that frame of thought. It is an easy thing to realize that if you are gaining weight, then there is a good chance that you are eating too much. If you are too sore, you are not going to want to move around and this means that you will not be burning as many calories. I have tried just about every diet plan out there and it was brutal. Stick to this simple plan and you can still enjoy food and lose weight in the safest and most efficient way!

Written by Chris Barber, CPT, ISSA Nutrition Specialist