You may start exercising for a lot of different reasons: You need to lose weight for your health. You plan to run a 5K or marathon. You want to enhance your fitness forбcross country skiing or to impress at the beach. Whateverбyour motivation, expect to gain a few poundsбat first. бBut don t panic. The pounds won t hang around if you keep at it. The key point here is that weight and muscle mass changes will occur,Б saysб, DPT Senior Director of Rehabilitation and Sports Therapy бatбCleveland Clinic. БInitially, they arenБt all what some people may perceive as headed in a positive direction, because you may gain a little weight at first. Б
RELATED:б Why the initial weight gain? When you startб anб , your body naturally goes throughб several changes in theб first couple months. A newб б regimenб putsб stress on your muscle fibers. This causes small micro tears, also known as micro trauma, and some inflammation. Those two conditions in your muscle fibers are the reason you may gain some weight. Your body responds to the micro tears and inflammation in two ways that cause temporary water weight gain. The first is a healing response. БThat stress and micro-tearing damage to the muscle fibers induces water retention in the body,Б Dr. Calabrese explains. БThere may be a small amount of inflammation around the micro tear, and your body retains fluid there to try to heal it. Б These are short lived changes in the muscle. You will also most likely experience delayed onset muscle sorenessб in the 24 to 36 hours after exercising.
That is your bodyБs natural response to those micro muscle tears and the breakdown in muscle tissue. So, donБt overdo. Eat properly and give your muscles the proper amount of rest so they canб heal and rebuild, Dr. Calabrese says. RELATED:б The wayб your body provides energy to the muscles also can add weight at first. Glycogen or sugar that your muscle cells convert to glucose is the energy source for your muscles. Whenб you exercise regularly, your body stores more glycogen to fuel that exercise. Stored in water, glycogen has to bind with water as part of the process to fuel the muscle. That water adds a small amount of weight, too. БAs your muscles become more accustomed to the exercise and more efficient, however, they begin to need less glycogen to maintain the same level of energy output,Б Dr. б Calabrese says. БThus, your water retention becomes less, so yourб б will start to go down. Б You will start to lose that initial water weight gain (of roughly one to three pounds) a few weeks or a month after starting an exercise program, he says. RELATED:б There is another source of weight gainб that people often misunderstand, Dr. б Calabrese says. You will gain weight from lean muscle mass that you add by building your muscles with exercise or weightlifting. But this won t happen right away. It will take you at least a month or two to add any lean muscle mass that would show up in your weight.
By that point, you will probably be experiencing a good weight-loss trend because of the exercise. БAgain, people may not consider the early changes to their bodies as positive,Б Dr. б Calabrese says. БBut there will be good changes later, so you have to stick with your exercise program. Б Before you add any exercise to your routine, talk to your doctor to make sure your body is healthy enough for exercise. Next, sit down with a medically based physiologist, physical therapist or athletic trainer who is well-versed in the effects of exercise. He or she can help you map out your exercise program, learn about the proper nutrition and rest you will need, and discuss theб б your body will experience as a result of your training. Then, get on withб your program. And look forward to the final step Б when you take that new body of yours out to enjoy the ski slopes or a sunny, sandy beach. A long endurance session or tough weight-training workout requires post-workout fueling to help replenish your energy stores and repair your muscles. That snack or meal won\’t cause you to gain weight, unless it pushes you above the number of calories you need to maintain your weight. If you use exercise as an excuse to eat, especially high-calorie foods and treats, it could cause weight gain. Why Eat After a Workout? Eating after a long run, cycle ride or lifting session should be approached as functional, not as a reason to take in hundreds of calories because you just \”burned\” them off.
You need carbohydrates after a workout that your body turns into glucose and stores as glycogen — energy stores in your muscles and liver. Protein eaten after a workout provides amino acids that your body uses to help repair and build muscle fibers. A 2012 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that about 20 grams of post-workout protein maximally stimulated muscle protein synthesis, the process by which muscles grow. How much of each nutrient you eat depends on your goals. Classic advice recommends a ratio of carbs to protein of 4 to 1. But athletes trying to lose body fat should aim for a 1-to-1 ratio instead. A post-workout snack is really only required if you\’ve worked longer than an hour or are training for a competition, whether that\’s a marathon or a bodybuilding show. The average person who is just trying to stay fit and meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise and two mild strength-training sessions per week doesn\’t need a specific post-workout nutrition plan. A brisk walk for 30 minutes doesn\’t call for a specific after-workout meal — you can wait until the next time you eat. Eating a snack after a moderate workout won\’t add weight, however, unless it makes you exceed your daily calorie needs. Eating a surplus of calories causes weight gain. You may feel like you worked hard and earned a burger, fries and an ice cream sundae, but chances are you didn\’t work off all those calories.
Burning off a fast-food kid\’s meal with chocolate milk, for example, takes an average of four hours of Frisbee playing; one slice of cheese pizza takes about 22 minutes of biking at 12 to 14 miles per hour; and burning off a cinnamon roll would require 40 minutes of running. It\’s not eating after exercise that can cause the weight gain — it\’s the choices you make if you believe you can eat anything you want after exercising. A post-workout snack should consist of healthy options just like other meals you eat during the day. Lean proteins, low-fat dairy, whole grains, vegetables and fruits make nutrient-rich choices. To determine how many calories you should eat after a workout, use an online calculator to estimate your daily calorie needs for weight maintenance. Account for your age, size, gender and activity level. Divide these calories up over three meals and two smaller snacks. For example, if you need 2,000 calories per day, you could plan on three 500-calorie meals and two 250-calorie snacks. One of those 250-calorie snacks could fall after your workout. Examples of good post-exercise food are a smoothie made with milk, nonfat dry milk, strawberries and a banana; a deli turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with lettuce and tomato; roasted salmon with a sweet potato and spinach; or two hard-boiled eggs with woven wheat crackers and an apple.