I was recently asked: "why have I noticed weight gain after training for the past few months?" Great question! The answer is fairly simple - muscle weighs more than fat.
Most of our fitness programs focus on increasing muscular strength and endurance. This leads to increased muscle mass, and ultimately, an increase in overall bodyweight. This increase in weight is a good thing!
There are other negative factors that might also be contributing to weight gain, however. Let's start with five reasons other than diet and exercise that one might be gaining weight - starting with the least common and working towards the most common.
In addition to hormonal changes that can trigger hunger, depression and poor sleep, aging causes a natural slowing of the metabolism. One way to counteract the increase in body fat is to increase lean muscle mass, subsequently increasing the metabolism and ultimately the caloric burn rate. Most of our fitness programs focus on strength training that will increase lean muscle mass.
Some people are afflicted with specific medical conditions like Cushing's Syndrome or hypothyroidism (less common) that can cause weight gain. When people are feeling abnormally tired or fatigued, experience swelling, a hoarse voice, intolerance to cold, or headaches, they can request a test from their doctor that will determine if they have one of these medical conditions.
Weight gain of more than 5 pounds within one month, without a change in lifestyle, can occasionally be traced back to the medicine cabinet. While not all drugs have the same effects on all people, some prescription drugs can cause gradual weight gain - for a variety of factors. If you suspect your medication is causing weight gain, talk to your health care provider to see about changing your prescription. But whatever you do, DO NOT go off of your medication without seeking medical advice.
Emotions and our overall mood are affected by stress. Stress can push our bodies into a survival mode that causes the body to flush out weight-gain inducing hormones, slow the metabolism, and store fuel (like fat). Some of us also self-medicate with food to cope with stress. Consistent exercise will release feel-good hormones that counteract stress and relieve tension. Being active regularly also serves as a mental diversion from that things that are causing the stress. Stick with our training programs and stay out of the food pantry!
Poor Sleeping Habits
Lack of sleep causes mental and physical stress on our bodies. Stress often promotes weight gain (see above). There are also more hours spent awake that lead to snacking and increased beverage consumption. This increase in calories can add up significantly over time. Need to learn more about how to sleep consistently? See our blog post on Sleep Tips for Adults.
Eat Healthy. Be Active Regularly. Sleep Consistently.