Here's The Reason You're Exercising More But Gaining Weight. And Why Doing Less Might Be The Answer
You're confused. You understand the principle of energy balance, and that eating fewer calories than you burn equals weight loss. So how is it possible you're exercising more but gaining weight?
Surely you should be losing weight faster than everyone else.
Are you a genetic freak, defying the laws of thermodynamics? Or maybe energy balance simply doesn't apply to you?
Either way, you're stuck. Lost at what to do next. But there's good news.
In this article you'll discover the science behind why you're exercising more but gaining weight. More importantly, you'll find out why doing less might be the best solution.
So, if you want to reverse your fortunes and start seeing the results you want, read on.
And if you'd prefer to listen to the audio version of "Exercising But Gaining Weight: Why More Isn't Always Best", click the play button below.
The 3 Reasons You're Exercising but Gaining Weight
Undoubtedly, your expectations were that increasing exercise would result in weight loss. Maybe you thought you could carry on eating whatever you want, because you'd burning those calories in the gym.
Reality hit hard as the scales kept creeping up, though. But why?
To answer your conundrum, here's 3 reasons you're exercising but gaining weight.
Why You're Exercising But Gaining Weight: 1) Increased Hunger
Increasing the size of your calorie deficit will also increase your feelings of hunger. The satiety hormone, Leptin, regulates feelings of fullness. And when you're dieting, production of Leptin decreases. Therefore, by exercising more and creating a larger calorie deficit, feelings of hunger could get to the point where they feel uncontrollable.
Added to that, the hunger hormone Ghrelin increases during a calorie deficit. Your body wants you to eat more. It doesn't like the idea of eating less and losing body fat. So by up-regulating Ghrelin you experience an increased drive to eat. And so enters uncontrollable cravings and the temptation to eat your bodyweight in baked goods.
In this scenario, by exercising more you've made dieting more challenging through significant increases in appetite. And potentially, too challenging.
Why You're Exercising But Gaining Weight: 2) Increased Food Intake
Whether it's to satisfy hunger, control cravings, or because you feel you "earned it", an increase in how much you eat is always possible when increasing activity.
And when you do, there's a high chance you'll overeat. Because let's face it, we're all shit at reporting calorie intake to some degree.
And there's research to show that significant increases in energy expenditure are often compensated by an increase in calories. So if you're exercising in an effort to lose body fat, but still gaining weight, it could be because you're eating too much.
Essentially, you haven't got your energy balance equation right, despite using every calorie calculator the internet has to offer.
Harsh, but fair.
Why You're Exercising But Gaining Weight: 3) Decreased NEAT
The more you sweat your balls or ovaries off in the gym, the less inclined you'll be to move during the day.
It's true. The science says so. In a 2013 study, researchers concluded, "The presentations provide evidence that some individuals adopt compensatory behaviours, that is, increased energy intake and/or reduced activity, that offset the exercise energy expenditure and limit weight loss."
In practical terms, this means you're more likely to move less during the day after spending hours on the treadmill. Again, this is affecting your energy balance equation without you realising.
So in some form of weird movement paradox, by moving more you actually move less.
You may also experience metabolic adaptations sooner, which makes you feel like you hit a plateau. Although, you're likely to see evidence of metabolic adaptation at some point, regardless of whether or not you're exercising excessively.
The Bottom Line On Why You're Exercising But Gaining Weight
Exercise alone without dietary advice is likely to be a poor choice for weight loss. And excessive exercising is likely to trigger compensatory behaviours that affect your ability to adhere to a calorie deficit.
It would be great if the old adage, "eat less, move more" was the only piece of advice you needed. In reality, shedding a few pounds isn't necessarily that simple. Losing weight will always come back to energy balance and creating a calorie deficit. But how you create that deficit can be the missing piece of the puzzle.
Increasing the amount you exercise doesn't always directly translate to increased weight loss. The human body is a dynamic machine. And the energy balance equation is affected by a number of factors.
Exercising But Gaining Weight? Do This Instead
This doesn't mean exercise is bad or doesn't support weight loss and improvements in health. But in isolation, it might not deliver the fat loss results you expect. So instead of pounding the treadmill for hours, here's what you should do:
- Weight train 3-6 times per week (choose a frequency you can achieve consistently).
- Add additional cardio to supplement a low step count (or if you enjoy it). But don't overdo it.
- Calculate your calorie deficit based on this activity level. And you can access my free online calorie calculator to do that.
- Monitor your average weekly weight for 2-3 weeks. Then, if needed, adjust your calorie intake to either slow or speed up weight loss.
You're not alone in wanting to lose weight as quickly as possible. After all, no-one set a goal to make shedding a few pounds as painfully slow as they could. But, always remember that smashing yourself into the ground is rarely the right approach to any fitness goal. So if you're exercising more and gaining weight, think about reigning yourself in.
Here's What To Do Next If You Want More Help To Achieve Your Fitness Goals
After reading this article, you might feel as though extra support and guidance would help transforming your physique.
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A lack of clarity might be holding you back from living the leaner, healthier life you deserve.
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But for now, all I’ll say is, keep living the Lean Life. And I’ll see you soon.
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