Have you just started exercising? Maybe you’ve ramped up your volume and load but you’re not seeing results? Or you’re training for a marathon and actually putting on weight instead of losing?
It’s a common story and one that’s often met with a simple answer: you’re putting on muscle and muscle weighs more than fat.
Now, if you’re doing a huge amount of weight training then yes, that could be the case. But – and sorry to put a dampener on it – more often than not it’s probably because you’re eating more than you’re burning.
There are 2 obvious reasons for this:
- The increased exercise is making you hungry, and you’re therefore eating more to compensate. And if you’re doing more endurance sport in particular, you’ll be eating more to fuel your workouts and therefore increasing your overall calorie intake.
- We can also slip into the mindset of thinking “well I did just run 10 miles so I can treat myself to pizza and cake”. Yes running 10 miles burns a lot of calories but there are probably more calories in pizza and a cake than you burnt.
Nathalie Jones, our friend and expert dietician tells us:
“There is actually not a lot of evidence to show weight loss is sustainable with exercise alone. However it will help you maintain weight loss. Exercising while dieting helps maintain muscle mass, so reduces the likelihood of weight regain later on.”“Exercising to lose weight without addressing your diet may leave you disappointed. Exercising to feel better, have more energy, improve body image, mood and have overall better health is a more useful outcome to aim for”.
So, if you find yourself putting on weight at a time where you’re moving more than ever, here are some tips on how to manage it:
- Track your calories. Work out what you need to maintain your weight (or lose if that’s your goal) and track them during the day. Leave room for 100-200 calories at night in case you’re super hungry and need a bowl of cereal or a natural yoghurt before bed.
- Get your timings right. Try to make sure you have access to healthy snacks when you’re more in need of something – mid-morning, pre-workout and post-workout.
- Get enough protein – 3 portions a day should help you feel full for longer and help your muscles recover from the strain you’re putting them under.
- Recover well – lots of sleep, at least one rest day a week, enough high quality lean protein, and plenty of fruit and veg.
- Treat yourself, occasionally. Ok, a pudding and glass of wine every single day is not going to be that helpful, but denying yourself may make it harder to stay on track. Whether it’s a Fizz Friday or a Sunday Roast, don’t deny yourself! Just track it and try to get an overall balance each week.
If you’d like any advice on fitness or nutrition get in touch with one of our coaches here.