Why Am I Gaining Weight While Working Out?

It can be frustrating to gain weight when you’ve been working very hard to lose weight. You’ve spent two hours a day at Gold’s Gym 3-4x a week and you still gained weight. Life’s not fair, huh?

Let’s try to analyze possible reasons for your weight gain. Take note that this list does not include any illness such as hypothyroidism which has been known to cause people, especially women, to gain weight.

1. You’re Chronically Stressed

If you’ve paid attention to your Biology teacher back in high school, you know that there’s this hormone called Cortisol which is produced when a person is stressed out. Cortisol is actually an important hormone that helps you stay functional in difficult situations – it kickstarts the burst of energy needed to fight or flee.

Things like traffic, work, family, chores, personal problems, etc can cause daily stress, which causes your body to shift to a high alert state and trigger cortisol release. When this happens all the time, it leads to problems like accumulation of belly fat and water retention. What’s interesting is that if you are new to exercising, it may inadvertently put you in a survival situation, and thus, cortisol is released. But this is only temporary and over time your body will adapt to the “stress,” especially since endorphins (feel good hormones) are also released after a workout.

2. You’re Not Eating Enough

When you find out you’re gaining weight, the natural response would be to eat less. But undereating for an extended period of time also triggers the release of cortisol. To make matters worse, frequent undereating will slow down your metabolism which is your body’s response to not getting enough calories, in order to conserve energy.

3. You’re Not Switching Up Workouts

If you’re doing the same workouts (and same intensity level) every time you’re at the gym this will lead to the dreaded plateau. You want your metabolism to remain elevated and you do that by continually challenging it to work hard in order to adapt. On a side note, we aren’t suggesting that you change your program every few days. If the program continues to challenge you, then stay on it.

4. You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

Many of those who are constantly deprived of sleep will gain weight. When you barely slept the night before, your stomach will produce ghrelin, a hormone that tells your brain you’re hungry. So you’ll end up eating more than what you really need. Moreover, when you’re tired, you also tend to make poor food choices and will probably not feel like going to the gym.

5. Your Metabolism Has Slowed Down

Even if there is nothing wrong with your exercise program and nutrition, you could still be gaining weight because your metabolism has slowed down. This may be brought about by aging. What you can do, if this is the case, is to cut back on sugar and carbs, get as much protein as possible and do some HIITs and compound exercises.

Don’t get too worked up with gaining weight while you’re working out. It’s usually temporary unless you’re guilty of any of the things we’ve listed here. For all you know, you could be gaining muscle mass from your workouts which would explain why you’re heavier compared to two weeks ago. Instead of looking at the weighing scale, look at your body. Do you notice yourself getting leaner, your waist getting smaller and your arms more toned? If so, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about! How much you weigh is not nearly as important as how great you feel about yourself.

Why am I gaining weight with more exercise?

Category: Featured