When your goal is to trim down or tone up, the last thing you want to see is the number on the scale increase. But this is what a lot of us are faced with - and that’s ok! Your hard work hasn’t been for nothing.
During the initial stages of training, your weight can fluctuate by a few kilos over the course of the day. This can be confusing and frustrating, it’s certainly not something to panic about. Although an increase in weight may seem like a step in the wrong direction, this isn’t necessarily the case.
So why does it seem like you’re gaining weight during the initial stages of your fitness journey?
Let's go over the reality of the first few weeks of your transformation journey, and why you shouldn’t be worried if you see the number on the scale increase.
Phase 1: Water weight fluctuation
Depending on how long it was since you last rolled your ankle, you may remember how your body responded to the trauma. The ankle immediately fills up with fluid to protect the injury, giving it a swollen or puffy appearance.
Now apply this principle to your entire body and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what happens when you begin a new training regime!
When taking up a new exercise routine, you put a lot of stress on your body's nervous system and muscle fibres as your unconditioned body adjusts to this new stress (exercising). This causes micro-tears on the muscle fibres, known as micro-trauma, which usually results in a bit of inflammation. The body then responds by retaining fluid to protect the damaged tissue - just like it does to protect a rolled ankle.
These conditions in your muscle fibres are the reason you may see an increase in your weight during the first few weeks of training. It's not fat, it's not permanent, it’s just the retention of fluid protecting the damage to your muscles.
Phase 2: Dropping the water weight
As you continue exercising regularly and establishing it as a part of your routine, your body stores more glycogen to fuel that exercise. Glycogen is then broken down by your muscle cells and converted to glucose (the main type of sugar in our blood), which is the energy source for your muscles.
Glycogen is stored in water and has to bind with water as part of the process to fuel the muscle, which adds a small amount of water weight as well.
As your muscles become more conditioned to your routine, this process becomes more efficient. They start requiring less glycogen to maintain the same level of energy output, which lessens your water retention and balances out your weight fluctuations.
Remember: Muscle weighs more than fat
It's also worth mentioning that the number you see on the sale will increase from the lean muscle mass that you add by building your muscles during your training. This will typically take up to around a month, by which point, you will probably be experiencing a steady weight-loss trend if you’re dedicated to your exercise routine.
So while you might be concerned that the number on the scale creeps up and down, realise that it’s just a part of your transformation journey!
Despite the number you see at your feet, you’re still on your way to smashing your goals and realising your best self!