There is no bigger bummer than getting on the scale after a couple weeks of hard work to shed a few pounds only to see the number has actually gone up. This infuriating experience is actually quite common, but what causes it? There are several reasons why you might be gaining weight when you're trying to lose it. Knowing these reasons and correcting for them can help you get back on track to see the results you are after.
Eating for the Wrong Workouts
There are many ways to get fit: walking, running, Pilates, spin classes, boxing, lifting, triathlon or CrossFit, just to name a few. These activities can all help you increase fitness, but they put different demands on your body, including your nutritional needs. Training for an IRONMAN requires a high calorie intake, especially from carbohydrates, while Pilates goers can benefit from a calming, anti-inflammatory diet. Eating a high calorie, high carb diet for endurance sports because you started doing a couple HIIT classes a week won't go over well when it comes to weighing in.
For athletes engaged in serious training, it is easy to underestimate the energy needs your body has. Cutting calories too much in hopes of shedding those last few pounds is likely to backfire. When people consume too few calories, metabolism slows and weight loss stalls (along with health and performance). While it seems contraindicating, adding back high-quality calories can stimulate the body to work more efficiently.
Weight fluctuates. Don't get hung up on the number each and every time you weigh-in. Drinking two pounds of water and immediately stepping on the scale will reflect two additional pounds, but of course, we all know that isn't how weight gain works. Most of the fluctuations come from water and will vary day to day based on sweating, water consumption, sodium intake and carbohydrate intake. Instead of worrying about each weigh-in, take an average of those weights weekly to get a better sense of the long-term trend.
Muscle Is Heavy
You might be losing weight but gaining muscle if you engage in a new routine that focuses on lifting and strengthening muscles while fueling for gains. Seeing the number on the scale rise can be frustrating, but try utilizing other measurements to assess your body composition, such as DEXA scans, Bod Pods or simply a tape measure. Keep in mind that it takes several weeks to truly put on muscle.
Taking in more than you are actually burning is the main reason you might not be seeing results. When you start working out, your metabolism gets revved up, hunger increases and you start grabbing extra snacks or servings because you feel like you need or earned that extra food. That 30-minute workout does not need a protein shake. Running 6 miles doesn't earn you that Frappuccino. Your diet is a big part of reaching weight loss goals. It is much harder to work off 400 calories compared to how easy it is to consume that amount. Make sure to eat a nutrient rich diet that supports good energy yet also carries a slight caloric deficit.