Gaining Weight Blog Header
"I’m two weeks into my training program. I’ve gained weight and I’m hungry all the time.. What’s going on?" 

These were Maureen’s words a few days ago talking to me live on the CKNW Sunday Night Sex Show.

Maureen was brave enough to start an upper body strength training program with me a couple of weeks back. She was keen on getting started and has been consistent with her training since. 

 
But despite following the plan to a T, she has gained some weight and can’t stop eating all day long. She is also really tired and even considered sleeping on her new Hoga mat (an innovative mat that comes complete with it's own towel attached).

Concerned, Maureen thought that the training program might not be doing what it is supposed to do: help her gain strength and muscle. Maureen had no need to lose weight but she definitely didn't want to gain it!

Let's now have a look at what could cause these changes, so you (and Maureen) don’t get discouraged when starting a new exercise program. 

 

Inflammation

This word has taken a bad reputation in today’s world. However, the inflammation phase is an important part of the adaptation process. The adaptation process is what your body goes through when it is exposed to a stressor (i.e. exercise).

Inflammation helps to repair the damage that was done to the muscle while working out. The damaged areas are flooded with inflammation mediators that bring in healing white cells and help flush out debris and toxins. This liquid can show up on the scale as extra weight.

So before you get alarmed by a few extra pounds on the scale, remember that your body is going through some changes and it might take a couple of weeks before it returns to it’s initial weight. 

 

Nutrition

Following a workout, your basal metabolic rate will stay elevated for 24 to 72 hours. The means that your body will require more calories to perform it’s basic functions, even if you’re not physically active. Your body is "paying back” the energy dept it accumulated during that challenging workout.

In addition to this, you will start building muscle when lifting weights. This new muscle will require extra calories to be maintained (this is one of the reasons why strength training is the best way to achieve long term fat loss).

These two factors will require you to eat more food to meet your body’s daily energy needs, making you hungrier than ever before.

The trick is now to fill yourself up with the right foods in order to keep making progress. Just because you started working out doesn’t mean that Oreos should be the new staple for breakfast and that Doritos can replace veggies on your plate.

 
 
Picture of Vegetables

 “But Sean, what diet should I follow?"
 
None. No diets. Eat foods you could find in gardens or any food that is/was alive. Eat REAL food. 

That said, it can be possible to overdo the good foods as well. There is no perfect formula, so it’s up to you to find what amount of food works for you. If you keep gaining weight each week, you’re likely overeating. But if you’re losing more that 2lbs/week and you feel light headed every time you stand up, you could definitely use some more food each day.

Drinking 6-8 cups of water distributed evenly throughout the day will facilitate food transit through your digestive tract. As you eat more, it may result in temporary bloating as your body learns to process the new intake levels.  

 

Stress Levels

It’s important to remember that exercise is a stressor. Assuming your nutrition, recovery and stress levels are under control, it can be a positive source of stress that will induce favourable changes in your body (weight loss, muscle gain, increased energy levels, etc..).

But if you’re sleeping 6 hours per night, are crumbling under pressure at work and feel the need for five coffees every day to keep you going, adding multiple training sessions per week to your schedule will most certainly have a negative effect. 

That added “negative” stress will trigger the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that tends to increase the storage of fat (especially around the abdomen). This will likely increase the number on the scale. 

 

Patience and Consistency

Assess your lifestyle by making sure your nutrition is on point and your stress levels are under control. The body takes time to change and adapt, so don’t be rushed to see results right away.

Keep exercising with good form, sleeping as much as you can and eating what your grandparents would have eaten. Take time each week to relax with your friends in a social setting and schedule some “free” time for yourself.

Stay tuned for the Sunday Night Sex Show on News Talk 980 CKNW from 8-10 pm with Maureen McGrath to hear more of my training tips (not to mention her sex tips).

 

 
Can you relate to the information in the blog? If so, please leave a comment below and share your story. It might help others get through these challenging times!

Also, join me on Facebook for daily quotes, tips and articles about fitness and exercise.

Thanks for reading! 

Sean is a personal trainer and strength coach who loves teaching beginners how to safely get stronger in the gym. He lives in Vancouver BC with his wife Lynne, and their children. Sean has a keen eye for good movement and encourages a positive lifestyle to support good training results.

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