Posted by: Isis | 2009-03-10

weight gain after excercise

I am 25 years old currently weighing 74kg' s and i am 1,63m tall. I have been exercising about 4/5 times a week doing 35min-40min of cardio on a somewhat low resistance. i try to eat aroung 5 small meals a day. in a former life i was an avid athlete

I have been exercising for 3 weeks and i can definately feel a difference interms of my fitness...but i am worried that i am gaining weight instead of losing. since i started i have gained 2 kg' s. My heart rate druing cardio is usually around 180 - 190. i am starting to become despondant - PLEASE HELP

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Our expert says:
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Hi Isis

Don't panic! It's actually not that unusual to gain weight through exercise, and there are a few factors that can cause this. One is your current weight. It seems that there is an ideal body weight for each person, and the body is so clever that it knows just how to keep you there. So, it may be that you just have no weight to lose, and so from that point of view, you are better of going for toning and improved fitness and not worrying about the scale. I don' think that's the case here, and I'm sure that you'll see progress soon, but just keep at it for a little longer.

The second is diet - often people subconsciously increase the energy intake when training harder. Let's say you train harder and use a few hundred more calories a day - you have a little more to eat or drink, and it means that the balance is still there as if you didn't train harder. I am not saying you should count calories, I think that is risky and hazardous at best, but I would say be aware of what you are eating. The other thing that often happens, is that because you are now exercising every day, you might take it a little easier during the rest of the day. In otherwords, you may be a little less active outside of the gym, either because you are subconsciously trying to save energy, or because you are actually very tired from training and don't get around as much. Either way, you are likely to use less energy, and that may even cancel out the effect of training.

Finally, the most likely issue - any form of training will increase muscle mass. People seem to have a conception that weight training causes muscle mass to rise, and cardio training burns fat. While this is largely true, you must remember that there is considerable overlap. So, let's say you are cycling, this means that if you are cycling along at 90 revs per minute this basically means that you are doing 90 contractions of the muscle per minute. Do this for 10 minutes and you have 900 muscle contractions, and so even though the force per contraction is low, you will still build some muscle. What i am saying is that even though you are not doing only weight training, it's still feasible that you will gain some muscle by doing cardio. Same goes for lifting weights. You are doing the right thing by lifting lighter, but it will still cause some weight gain, so don't panic.

Very importantly though, this is nothing to worry about. In fact, it's a good thing, and I guess the bottom line is that you must really focus on how fit you are, how you are feeling and perhaps how you are looking, rather than on the scale. Even aiming for centimeters can be misleading, especially early on, because it takes much longer and can be a little bit of a futile and very frustrating goal. So my advice is really to go for fitness - try to get faster and fitter on those cardio sessions and the results will take care of themselves.

Keep up the good work, remember that it takes time, but have faith that you are on the right track!


The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: Boyscout | 2009-03-12

Hi Isis

You are making a common mistake of trusting the scale when trying to lose weight. The scale measures body mass not just fat mass. Included in body mass is fat, muscle, water etc

Rather use body measurements and % body fat to guage weight loss. Also use the way your clothes fit to tell if you' re losing weight.

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