Why Am I Gaining Weight Even with Diet and Exercise?

Why Am I Gaining Weight Even with Diet and Exercise?

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

The truth is, losing weight is difficult for everyone.

While a lot of diet programs would lead you to believe it’s easy, that’s never the case. Losing weight requires an optimal combination of diet and exercise.

However, even if you think you are doing everything right, you could be missing one key element that could stall your efforts.

There is a lot that goes into losing weight. While the key element is consuming fewer calories than you are burning, there are a lot of other factors at play.

In this article, you will learn why you may be gaining weight while dieting and exercising and some of the top things you can do to improve your results.

Why Are You Gaining Weight When Dieting and Exercising?

a woman holding a yellow water bottle with white towel around her neck during a workout

1. Changes Caused By Exercise (Increased Water Retention)

One of the key things you need to remember when you start exercising is that your body is going to experience initial changes that can lead you to gain weight. This weight gain is a combination of muscle gain and glycogen storage [1]. Glycogen needs to bind to water to properly fuel the muscles [1].

Thus, if you aren’t used to working out, your body will experience even more dramatic changes that could be noticeable. Your body needs to provide energy to your muscles.

This is likely to lead to increases in weight throughout the first several weeks. Your body isn’t used to needing to store as much glycogen because you don’t work out as often. Once you start, your body will need to store excess amounts.

Once you get used to working out, your body will become increasingly accustomed to exercise making it operate much more efficiently.

This can lead your muscles to need to store less glycogen to maintain the same energy output [1].

2. Increased Muscle Mass

While this isn’t something you can expect to happen overnight, increased muscle mass from working out is to be expected. This is known as “good weight gain.”

You don’t want to fear weight gain caused by increased muscle mass. It means what you are doing is working. The more muscle you have, the more fat your body will burn.

Any weight you gain from increasing muscle mass is going to allow you to burn fat more efficiently. This will take anywhere from 3 weeks to a month to see any noticeable difference in muscle mass [1].

A lot of people misinterpret this weight gain as fat gain. This is why you want to measure your body fat percentage. This can help you accurately track how much fat you’re losing.

Weighing yourself on a scale that doesn’t measure this is only likely to hinder your motivation as you won’t be seeing the weight loss you want because it’s offset by muscle gains.

Muscle weighs more than fat so you may get discouraged by the lack of results that show up on a basic scale. You can find scales that show your body fat percentage which can help you better understand the changes going on.

3. You’re Not Doing Things Right

There are a lot of intricacies about diet and exercise that can dictate your success or failure. If you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s a high likelihood you could be wasting a lot of your efforts.

This is why there are professional dieticians and professional trainers. These people have the knowledge, experience, and education in diet and exercise to help you optimize your efforts and succeed.

Knowing what to do and when to do it is just as important as actually doing it. If you are working out improperly or if you aren’t taking in the right macronutrients, your efforts could be stalled considerably.

This is why you want to follow a proven diet and meal plan. You also want to look up exercise routines based on your fitness goals and objectives.

Figure out a plan that can get you where you want to be. Signing up for your local gym and getting personal training could be an effective way to optimize your workouts.

Likewise, signing up for a meal delivery program can be a great way to optimize your nutrition to ensure you’re priming your body for weight loss.

4. You’re Not Exercising Enough

A lot of people that attempt to lose weight think as little as 15 minutes per day of exercise is enough.

While any little bit of exercise certainly helps, it’s better to work out longer. Getting your heart pumping is key if you want to burn more calories throughout your workouts.

This is why cardio exercises are so popular. Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best things you can do to speed up your weight loss efforts. This includes things like running, swimming, jogging, walking, biking, and more.

You can use exercise machines or do your cardio outdoors. Regardless, you need to be getting sufficient exercise into your daily routine if you want to burn fat and lose weight.

The goal is to burn more calories than you are taking in daily. This is the single most effective way to know you are progressing on your weight loss journey.

4. You’re Eating The Wrong Foods

a man eating pizza

Believe it or not, not all food is created equal.

Certain foods can help you lose weight and certain foods will contribute to weight gain. The key is to avoid eating foods that are considered empty calories.

You don’t want to consume too many empty calories throughout the day because they aren’t going to supply your body with needed nutrition and will only cause you to gain weight.

These foods are typically your simple carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates and processed foods are not only empty calories, but they can reduce your ability to burn fat at a high rate too.

5. You’re Not Resting

This may sound counterproductive, but you need to give your body sufficient rest if you want to lose weight.

Many make the mistake of trying to fit three workouts in a single day. While this may sound like a good idea, it’s not going to help. It’s likely to contribute to weight gain instead of weight loss.

RELATED READING: Gaining Weight Even Though I Walk 3 Miles per Day – What Gives?

Your body needs time to rest and recuperate. You need to give your body the time it needs to repair muscle fibers. If you try to fit too many workouts into your daily routine, you’re only going to hinder your efforts to lose weight successfully.

Sleep is extremely important when it comes to weight loss. Your body will function better when you have sufficient rest and restorative sleep.

Not only does a lack of sleep result in weight gain from a lack of energy, but it can even increase appetite and stall your metabolism [3].

Top Tips To Improve Your Weight Loss Efforts

a man slaps high fives with his workout partner

1. Have Goals

One of the best ways to give yourself ample motivation to continue with your weight loss journey is by setting goals. You want to set a lot of goals for yourself when you are trying to lose weight.

Losing weight is extremely difficult.

Likewise, it’s a very long journey. It can be very difficult to maintain the needed consistency to achieve results with your weight loss efforts.

Because of this, you want to set goals. Setting goals is the single best way to have a goal post in which you can measure your progress.

Without short and long-term goals, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to sustain the motivation needed to keep going.

2. Count Calories

This is tedious and time-consuming. However, it’s needed.

As mentioned, the entire goal is to consume fewer calories than you are burning. You don’t want to consume more calories than you are burning because it will lead to unwanted weight gain.

A lot of people looking to lose weight try to skip this step because they don’t want to put in the work. Documenting your caloric intake is annoying, but it’s effective.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can do it without wasting too much time. Simply download a fitness tracking app that has calorie counting features.

From there, you can make it easier to count calories every time you have a meal. Make sure you are doing it consistently because that’s the only way you’ll get the results you want.

3. Try Strength Training

While you will certainly contribute to weight gain but it’s going to be a good kind of weight. Putting on lean muscle is one of the best things you can do to optimize your weight loss efforts.

As mentioned previously, lean muscle can help you burn fat at a higher rate. This alone is a good way to improve your weight loss efforts because you will increase your metabolism and burn more fat.

If you’re looking to lose weight, you likely want to get rid of fat. The best way to optimize fat loss is by incorporating more strength training into your daily routine.

That way, you can add a lot of muscle to improve your body composition and metabolism. Your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns fat [2].

4. Partner Up

Another great thing you can do is find someone to work out with and to go on a weight loss journey with. If you can find someone that is in it with you, it’s going to give you a lot of stamina to keep going.

Having someone that you can lean on can be critical if you want to achieve weight loss success.

A lot of people end up burning out because they can’t motivate themselves and they can’t hold themselves accountable. When you find someone to go on the journey with, you can take turns holding one another accountable. This is what makes finding a personal trainer so effective.

You can find someone that will be looking out for your best interest and someone that can push you when you don’t want to work out.

This can be a friend, a family member, or a professional. Simply find someone that you can rely on to help you with your weight loss efforts.

5. Focus On Your Workouts

This is something that gets a lot of people in trouble.

While listening to music is not a bad thing while working out, you don’t want to try to multi-task with things that require your attention.

A lot of people get into the mistake of not being mindful while working out. If you attempt to watch a show or do something that requires your attention, it’s going to negatively impact your workouts.

Instead, try to focus more on each exercise you do. Be mindful of every repetition you put into your workouts. This is going to allow you to get the most out of everything you do.

If you aren’t mindful of your workouts, you will find yourself going through the motions instead of putting every ounce of energy and focus into your exercises.

This is only going to waste your time and lead to less than stellar results.

6. Take Your Vitamins

Your body needs vitamins and minerals to optimize various bodily processes. The better your body is functioning, the better it will operate.

Not only do you need vitamins and minerals for improved weight loss, but you also need them to sustain high energy levels.

]If your body doesn’t have all of the vitamins and minerals it needs, you’re going to struggle to sustain optimal energy levels which will leave you lethargic and not wanting to workout.

Vitamins can be an easy integration into your diet to improve your weight loss efforts and even make you healthier overall.


Ultimately, weight loss is extremely difficult and it requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience. Don’t be discouraged if you are gaining weight initially.

Wait a month or so and see where you’re progressing.

You can then make any necessary adjustments needed at that time. Be certain you are applying the tips in this article and you should have great success with your weight loss efforts.


  1. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/just-started-exercising-gaining-weight/
  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21893-metabolism
  3. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/weight-loss-and-sleep