Ask Alfonso: Will Exercise Make Me GAIN Weight?
I’m 16, a girl, and I consider myself moderately fit. I workout around 4-6 times a week and eat a diet of mostly healthy foods around 1500-2000 calories. I currently weigh 150. Okay, here is my question.
Can working out, or specific workouts, lead to significant weight gain?
My problem is that I’ve been trying everything I can to lose the 20 pounds I’ve gained since I started working out. Should I stop working out or is it most likely weight gained caused by factors other than workouts?
The one most confusing me is HIIT (high intensity interval training) I did HIIT for a month, 30 min 4 days per week, (outdoors-in warm weather!), changed nothing else, and I GAINED WEIGHT. It’s frustrating.
Sorry for the many questions!
Hey Megan how are you?
I’m so glad you’ve written in. Most of my questions come from adults and I love when teenagers also ask for fitness info. It’s a sign to me that you value your health and fitness and want to lead a strong life.
Ok onto the question. Can exercise make you gain weight? Yep, it absolutely can! To make things worse it can happen 1 of 2 ways. Firstly and most commonly is that when a new trainee starts exercising they gain some muscle weight AND store more muscle glycogen in the muscle tissue. With this added muscle weight and sugar storage also comes a little intracellular water weight. That’s why when you first start an exercise program your muscles start to look fuller, shapelier or rounder the first few weeks. It’s not uncommon for some trainees to gain up to 10 pounds in just a few weeks.
Another way that exercising can make you gain weight is by gaining fat! I know it sounds backwards, after all how can exercise make you fat? Remember exercise is trauma and if a person over-exercises and also under eats, they’ll basically be putting their body in a state of chronic stress without supplying the fuel it needs to recuperate. Generally poor sleeping habits, restlessness and just a feeling of always being lethargic would accompany this. It’s classic over–training 101. So in response to a lack of food, too much energy expenditure and stress hormones being released you gain fat.
However you do need to distinguish between fat and muscle gain. Have you gained 20 pounds of fat? From the tone of your letter I wouldn’t think so. A 20-pound gain in fat is significant and you’d surely feel and see it. I’m guessing that you’re just going by the scale and it reflects a weight gain. This is why sometimes it’s best to forget the scale and just look at yourself in the mirror to gauge if you’ve gained weight. Another great way to judge fat gain is with your clothing – are your pants tighter, did you move up or down a belt loop, or is your shirt looser? Those are all things that can’t be argued with.
Unless you’ve gained fat I wouldn’t be concerned with your weight. Eat a healthful diet, workout intensely but also be sure to get adequate rest and recovery and you should be good to go. IF and I say IF you’ve gained fat you’ll have to re-evaluate your diet. I know you say you’re eating between 1500 – 2000 calories per day but are you really? Many people miscount or leave out foods when adding up their daily totals. A couple of hundred calories here and there can really add up and make the difference between gaining, maintaining or losing weight. Unless you’re working out for hours on end 4 – 6 days per week your program sounds fine. I’m sure you’re including strength, functional and core training in your workouts along with other more common modes right? Ok good.
So Megan don’t stress. Re-evaluate what kind of weight you’ve gained, take a more detailed look at your training and diet and remember that nothing in fitness is exact. You may just have to adjust certain aspects of your program as time goes on…
Good luck – and if you have a question – please just click here. I’d love to help you!
All information contained within this site, Angry Trainer Fitness.com, is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. No action should be taken solely on the contents of this website. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or on any opinions expressed within this website. Please see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.
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about 11 months ago - 3 comments
Hi Alfonso, I am sooooo needing to lean out after a rough year and emotional eating. I have about 10–15 pounds I want to lose but just can’t get cut again. I love Zuzana’s workouts but I wonder if that is enough to lean out alone or if I need to go back to traditional…