Every muscle group in your body is meant for movement so it burns energy too. In fact, a pound of muscle (around 0.45 kg) burns about 7 to 10 calories a day when at rest. Compared to this, fat, which is meant to store energy, only burns 2 to 3 calories. Now isn’t that another reason to lose fat and build muscles?
However, it’s possible that you have been working out for a couple of months now but are not seeing any weight loss. You have in fact gained some weight. Many people workout regularly and still put on weight. This is quite common when you have started a new exercise regime, as your body is still adjusting to the new workout. But if you have been exercising for a while now and have gained weight instead of losing it, then it is a cause for concern.
There can be a number of factors why you have been putting on weight.
Muscle mass: This is one of the main reasons you will see weight gain if you have just started working out. You have moved from an inactive lifestyle to an active one, and that is going to bring about some changes to your body. So, you could very well have lost some fat but may have gained muscle mass instead. And remember, muscles are heavier than fat, so you might look leaner but weigh more. People also tend to retain some water weight initially. Don’t get disheartened as you have just started.
Eating unhealthy: A lot of people tend to indulge in unhealthy fast foods as they believe that exercising harder will balance it out. But good eating habits are vital for building muscles and burning calories. Many of us grab a smoothie as soon as we finish our workouts. These are loaded with sugar and calories. Some tend to cut back on calories during the day but end up eating more for dinner. Moderation and portion control are important aspects you will need to consider as the effect of consuming too much or too little of any food, even if it is healthy, will show on your body.
Sleep Deprivation: Research has shown that insufficient sleep could lead to weight gain. Getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night is important. Not sleeping enough can make you tired and exhausted which can affect your gym routine and make you crave unhealthy food. Being sleep deprived also affects the two hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin which tell your brain it is time to eat and does not tell it when to stop. This leads to overeating.
Unproductive Workouts: Many people go to the gym daily, but never really work out. You may find them chatting with friends or hanging out at the watercooler. You may see them on the treadmill, but the settings will be on minimum. You will not lose weight just by going to the gym but will have to exercise too. Also, men usually prefer working out only with weights. Though this type of resistance training is good, you will also need to do other kinds of exercises such as cardio if you want to lose weight.
Stress: It is a good thing if your body is experiencing the stress that comes from a good workout. The invigorating workouts will only help strengthen your body and make you tougher. But if it is lifestyle stress like the one we face today, it can affect our overall well being. Too much stress will increase the production of the hormone Cortisol in your body which will make you crave fatty foods and skip workouts. Make sure you exercise in moderation or exercise too will be added to your list of unhealthy stress.
Other Factors: It is also possible you may gain weight if you do not drink adequate water. Weight gain can also happen due to certain medical conditions or medications you take so make sure you check with your doctor.
It can be very discouraging when you gain weight despite all the effort you put into working out. Do you know that stress can kill brain cells while a calm environment permits their growth? Keep exercising regularly to achieve your fitness goals and keep away stress.
So next time you step on the scale don’t panic. Keep in mind that you are much fitter and healthier than the time you started, and you are on the right path.