Do You Gain Weight Before You Lose it?

Do You Gain Weight Before You Lose it?

Written by Megan Ayala. Last Updated: April 22, 2022

Are you on a journey to lose weight?

If so, you’re not alone. Millions are attempting to lose unwanted weight right now. However, like many, you’ll notice how difficult it can be to succeed.

One of the roadblocks many run into when they look to start their weight loss journey is gaining weight before they experience any weight loss.

This is completely normal.

It scares many away from a weight loss routine they’ve embarked on. However, you shouldn’t let it. Here is why you gain weight before you start to lose weight and why it shouldn’t matter.

Also, you will learn about some of the key tips you can use to achieve success with your weight loss efforts.

Why Do You Gain Weight Before Losing It?

a woman working out in a black workout outfit

1. Your Muscles Need It

There is a common misconception that gaining weight during the beginning of your weight loss journey is bad. When you gain weight at the beginning of your journey, it means things are working.

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It’s very common to gain some weight at the beginning of your fitness journey especially if you are incorporating strength training into your workouts. Your body has to store glycogen in its muscles for fuel. Without this fuel, your muscles won’t be able to keep up with your workouts.

Your muscles actively use glycogen as an energy source. One of the main reasons you gain a lot of weight during this stage has to do with glycogens’ dependence on water.

A single gram of glycogen has 2.7 grams of water [1].

This leads to you retaining water at the beginning of your weight loss journey. This is known as water retention and it’s to be expected.

2. You’re Gaining Muscle

A lot of people who are overweight and not in shape lack muscle. If you haven’t worked out in a long time, your muscle is likely gone. Your muscles end up responding to the amount of stress they are put through.

Thus, if they are trained, they will grow.

If they aren’t utilized, they won’t. When you go to the gym and incorporate strength training into your routine, your muscles will grow. Muscle tissue is a lot more dense than fat.

As a result, it weighs more. Thus, by adding more muscle, you will add more weight. This doesn’t mean you are gaining “bad” weight. Rather, you are gaining lean muscle.

Luckily, having muscle can speed up the rate at which your body burns fat. There is plenty of evidence that points to muscle mass and metabolism [2].

When you increase your muscle mass, you can improve your metabolism which speeds up your rate of caloric burn.

3. You Are Making Mistakes

Another reason a lot of people end up gaining weight before they start losing it has to do with making mistakes. As mentioned, weight loss is very difficult to achieve.

To effectively lose weight, you need to be doing several things right. Most importantly, you need to maintain a good diet and exercise program.

If you aren’t doing one of them or you are doing it wrong, you will find it difficult to lose weight successfully. It’s very easy to make mistakes when you are a novice. If you have never achieved weight loss previously, you may find it increasingly difficult. This is why many seek out professionals for assistance.

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If you think you are not getting good results because you are making mistakes, it would make sense to turn to someone for guidance or to read books on losing weight.

However, if you are gaining weight during the initial stages of your weight loss journey, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing things wrong.

As mentioned, it’s completely normal and you should give it some time to start seeing results.

4. You Aren’t Resting Enough

Whenever people get into health and fitness and they start their weight loss journey, they tend to get very anxious about seeing results quickly.

This causes them to get into things too quickly.

While you want to avoid skipping workouts, that doesn’t mean you should be working out every day. Working out every day can be counterintuitive. It can cause your weight loss results to slow to a crawl.

Your body needs rest.

When you are working out too hard and too often, your body enters preservation mode. Whenever you work out, you stress your muscles and body. This stress produces cortisol and it can lead to increased insulin resistance. This in turn can cause a significant decrease in your weight loss efforts and it can hinder your results in the long run.

This is why you want to go into things slowly and try to give your body ample time to adjust. Weight loss is a marathon. Don’t sprint into things expecting to lose your desired weight too quickly.

It’s only going to ruin your results.

You need to give your body plenty of time to rest and recuperate to get the results you’re looking for.

5. You’re Injuring Yourself

When you are out of shape and you haven’t worked out in a long time, it can be very easy to go into things too quickly and without care. As mentioned previously, you need to ease into things.

If you go into things too aggressively, you can find yourself getting hurt very easily. Once you get hurt, it’s easy to see your progress grind to a halt.

After all, when hurt, you can no longer work out. This can result in gaining weight while you are attempting to lose it.

Tips to Successfully Lose Weight with Minimal Weight Gain

a woman workouts out with dumbbells

  • Consume Fewer Carbohydrates

One of the best ways to ensure you don’t pack on extra pounds while you are trying to lose weight is by avoiding carbohydrate consumption. More specifically, you want to avoid consuming simple carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are not only empty calories, but they can increase water retention. The more water you retain, the more you will weigh on the scale.

A good way to jumpstart your weight loss efforts is by avoiding carbohydrates as much as possible.

While you can still consume complex carbohydrates like vegetables, you’ll want to avoid simple carbs as much as possible.

  • Mix in More Cardio

If you are looking to lose weight and you aren’t doing cardio, you need to start. Cardio is easily one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Not only that, but it’s the most effective to lose weight fast. Studies show that aerobic exercise results in significant weight loss for both men and women [3]. There is no better way to achieve fast weight loss results than by getting cardio into your exercise routine.

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Ideally, you want to do high-intensity cardio. This will yield the best results in the shortest amount of time. However, you do have to continue to give your body ample rest.

  • Avoid Spiking Blood Sugar

One of the keys to avoiding a lot of water retention is keeping your blood sugar levels stable. This is not only good for reducing weight gain, but also for keeping you healthy. You want to try to eat low glycemic foods to avoid spiking your blood sugar levels as much as possible.

  • Track Everything

This one is very important when you are looking to achieve weight loss. You need to be diligent about tracking everything. You want to track everything you are doing and eating.

Tracking your caloric consumption is most important. After all, your weight loss depends on burning more calories than you are consuming. Many fail to track their calorie intake which causes them to take in too much to lose weight.

You need to put yourself at a caloric deficit to successfully achieve weight loss whether in the short or long term. Tracking calorie consumption has never been easier.

Nowadays, you can easily track your calorie consumption using various dieting apps on your smartphone.

  • Don’t Fret About Muscle Gains

While you may not want to gain weight, that doesn’t mean you should avoid doing strength training exercises because of it. While muscle does weigh more than fat, it’s not something you want to worry about.

Putting on lean muscle can help you burn more fat. Because of this, you want to try to incorporate a good amount of strength training into your routine.

Don’t make the mistake of avoiding strength training for the fear of putting on muscle mass.

Muscle mass is a good kind of weight gain. And in reality, it’ll help you burn more fat in the long run.

Summary

Overall, there are plenty of reasons you could find yourself gaining weight before you lose it.

Luckily, this process is completely normal. If you find yourself putting on unwanted weight during your first few weeks of working out, don’t stress out about it.

It’s your body’s way of adjusting to your new workouts. Your muscles are retaining water and glycogen for fuel and your body is building muscle.

Because muscle weighs more than fat, it’s going to result in weight gain when you step on the scale.

References:

  1. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/1050/why-do-i-seem-to-gain-weight-when-i-start-to-train-for-an-endurance-race-like-a-half-marathon/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3661116/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3630467/