Exercising has many health benefits for weight maintenance and lowering risk for many chronic diseases. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, weight train each major muscle group 2-3 times per week and do flexibility and neuromuscular training 2-3 days per week.
Even though weight loss is a common goal for many with exercise, sometimes weight gain can occur from exercise because of a gain in muscle mass. Sometimes weight gain can happen with exercise from post workout mistakes.
Here are some post workout mistakes that cause weight gain and how to avoid them.
Over compensating with calories
One of the most common post workout mistakes that cause weight gain is overcompensating food intake. Don’t fall into the mistake of feeling like you can eat whatever and however much you want after a workout because you deserve it. See also: What to eat after your workout.
When you work out, you don’t need to drastically increase your food intake unless you are training for a long endurance event. You also need to watch the desire to “treat” yourself regularly because you exercise.
Planning meals around your workouts is an easy way to balance food intake with your workout. Listen to your body and still eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Exercising 30-60 minutes most days of the week doesn’t give you free reign to think you can eat whatever you want and still see weight loss goals reached. See also 10 healthy post workout snacks.
Not eating at the right time
Refueling after exercise with a healthy carbohydrate source and lean protein can be ideal for refueling muscles. However, waiting too long to eat after exercise can inhibit muscle synthesis and may increase fat storage instead.
You can plan meals around your workout, for example if you work out in the evenings eat dinner within an hour after your work out. Eating a regular meal after exercise can help shift the body to repair muscles, and being fueled properly before exercise can help you push harder during your work out.
If you are already running on empty and feeling hungry before your workout, you will not be able to exercise as long or as hard as you could otherwise.
Being even 1-2% dehydrated can limit your muscle’s ability to work. Staying hydrated before, during and after exercise can also help you get the best work out you can. Drinking 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost in sweat can help you stay hydrated.
Another way being dehydrated may be a post work out mistake for weight gain is that thirst can be confused as a signal to eat. If you are dehydrated and don’t properly refuel, your mind may perceive this as an increased signal to eat which may has the potential to contribute to unplanned weight gain.
Waiting too long until your next workout
Exercise works best for weight maintenance when it is consistent. A big post work out mistake that can cause weight gain is waiting too long until your next workout. An exercise session can help keep your metabolism high hours after, but this benefit doesn’t translate to boosting your metabolism for the whole week.
Having consistent work outs will help you reach your weight and health goals. If you exercise most, if not all days of the week, there’s nothing wrong with taking a rest day to let your muscles recharge.
You don’t enjoy your workout
A 2014 study focused on a unique way to look at how exercise influences food intake. Researchers found that when participants engaged in exercise that was perceived as fun, for example a scenic walk compared to an exercise walk, people were less likely to consume desserts and consumed fewer snacks.
When you perceive exercise as fun, it signals the reward center in your brain. However, if exercise is seen as something not fun and that you have to endure, the reward center of the brain is not stimulated and there is greater need to feel the “reward” afterwards.
If you don’t enjoy your workout routine on a consistent basis, find something you enjoy doing! There will always be days you don’t feel like exercising, but for the majority, according to this study, perceiving exercise as fun can lower intake of indulgent foods after exercise.
Exercise is an important component to weight maintenance and overall health. However, sometimes weight gain can happen from post work out mistakes. Over compensating with food or beverage calories after exercise is a common mistake of why people may not be losing weight.
Nutrient timing before and after exercise is important; too little before and your workout performance will suffer. Too little after exercise can inhibit building muscle and could over time contribute to blocking weight loss efforts.
Making exercise fun can help lower intake of desserts and snacks according to a 2014 study. Therefore, if your exercise is not “fun” for you, you may be more susceptible to eating extra afterwards.
References used in this article