You work out to improve your health, but when step on the scale, your weight has increased. That could be frustrating, but understanding the short-term and long-term reasons for exercise-related weight gain will put those numbers into perspective.
Staying hydrated during your workout improves performance and exercise capacity. But every drop of water has weight, so if you hop on the scale immediately after completing a workout, you may find you have gained 1 or 2 pounds.
Exercise-related water weight gain may show up the next day if you didn't drink enough water during your workout. Thirsty cells in your body can overcompensate by holding onto water from the foods and drinks you consume throughout the rest of the day. You may experience as much as a 3-pound gain from this effect.
If the numbers on the scale have gone up slowly over a period of two or more weeks, you could be eating more to compensate for the exercise you are doing.
As you get stronger, you may also experience an increase in your muscle mass. You'll know this is happening if the numbers on the scale go up, but your clothing fits better.
Attention to your food intake improves the likelihood of reaching your weight goals, so be certain to track the quantity and quality of what you eat. Since working out can only burn on average seven calories per minute, it's easy to consume more than you lose through exercise.
Smart use of the scale can improve your chances of long-term weight management. To maximize accuracy, weigh yourself at the same time each day wearing the same amount of clothing. Day-to-day fluctuations are normal, so pay closer attention to the weekly trends in your weight.
- The American College of Sports Medicine's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription; 2006
- Exercise Physiology: Human Bioenergetics and Its Applications; 2005