Can Working Out Actually Make You Gain Weight?

Can working out actually make you gain weight? It’s a question that many people ask, and for good reason. After all, if you’re trying to lose weight, the last thing you want is to end up gaining weight instead. However, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help you avoid this scenario.


Working out can have many benefits, from improving strength and stamina to increasing longevity. Physical exercise is often seen as a way for people to lose or manage their weight-but can working out actually lead to weight gain?

The answer is not so black and white. When planning a workout routine it’s important to consider the type of activities you are engaging in, the intensity of your workouts, and how long you’re working out for. Many people do not realize that the amount of calories burned during exercise depends on these factors-as well as your overall health and nutrition habits outside of exercise.

Understanding how working out can affect body weight can help individuals build a more sustainable plan and lifestyle that helps them achieve their desired fitness goals while avoiding unintentional weight gain. To better understand whether or not exercise causes weight gain, let’s explore two key components when it comes to physical activity: calorie balance and energy needs.

Calories In vs. Calories Out

When it comes to working out, the basic equation is that if you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. This is true regardless of your workout routine. To understand the effect of working out on your weight, it’s important to look at the difference between the calories you take in and the calories you burn. Let’s dive into how this equation works in practice.

How to Calculate Your BMR

Calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is a great way to gain a better understanding of how many calories you should be eating each day in order to either remain at your current weight, or lose weight. BMR describes the number of calories required to sustain bodily functions including digestion, inhalation, transmission of nerve impulses and circulation. Your BMR is linked heavily to your height and gender, as well as body composition—the amount of fat vs. lean muscle mass you have.

To determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), there is the Harris-Benedict formula that takes into account gender, age, height, and weight. This formula was originally published in 1919 and revised in 1984. To find out what your BMR is follows these steps:

For men: 66 + (6.2 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.76 x age in years)
For women: 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

How to Calculate Your TDEE

Calculating your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is an important step in determining your caloric intake for weight loss or maintenance. TDEE is the sum of the energy your body needs to function normally (resting metabolic rate) and the energy you expend through physical activity. The amount of physical activity included in your TDEE will depend on your individual lifestyle, from sedentary to very active.

There are several methods for calculating TDEE, but a common approach is to use established formulas based on factors such as age, sex, weight and height. These formulas typically estimate that for sedentary individuals a standard figure of 10-12 calories per pound of body weight can be used to calculate estimated TDEE. For example, a 40 year-old woman who weighs 138 lbs (62 kgs) would have an estimated TDEE of 1,620 – 1,936 calories per day.

Once you’ve calculated your estimated TDEE, you can adjust it according to your lifestyle and goals. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, subtract 500 calories from the total as recommended by medical professional associations; if you’re trying to gain muscle mass then consider adding 500-1000 calories depending on desired results. It’s also important to note that these calculations are based on average averages and may not be accurate in all cases — always consult with healthcare professionals when changing your diet or meal plan.

Weight Gain and Exercise

Exercise is often associated with weight loss and overall health, but it is possible to gain weight from working out. While this may seem counterintuitive, gaining weight from exercise can be a good thing, as it often indicates an increase in muscle mass. Read on to learn more about how exercise can cause weight gain and what you can do to make sure it happens in a healthy way.

Muscle Gain

When exercising, your body tends to add more mass in the form of muscle. As many people know, muscle is much denser than fat. That’s why you can exercise and see little change on a scale. However, muscle also requires more energy than fat to maintain which can help to improve your metabolism and ultimately help you lose or maintain weight depending on your diet and exercise routine.

While you may think that bulking up with extra muscle could cause weight gain – unless you are eating more calories than usual this should not be the case. Exercises such as lifting weights and using resistance bands are great for building lean muscle which ultimately has the ability to improve overall body composition and health without necessarily causing significant weight gain. Additionally, cardiovascular exercise can be beneficial for burning calories quickly which can aid in weight loss over an extended period of time.

Overall, when it comes to weight control, there is no one-size-fits-all approach as everyone’s individual metabolism, lifestyle preferences and health goals will vary significantly from person to person. However, it is important to remember that increasing lean muscle mass through strength training should not automatically result in significant weight gain as long as your calorie intake remains within a reasonable range based on your unique health goals.

Increased Appetite

One of the common reasons why people gain weight after starting an exercise program is an increased appetite. Exercise increases your metabolic rate which leaves you feeling hungry and ready to consume more food than normal. Additionally, if your workouts are frequent and intense, they could be leading to exhaustion and even muscle-building, both of which require additional carbohydrate replacement.

It’s important to note that consuming additional calories doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gaining weight due to the exercise itself, but it can create a positive feedback loop of overconsumption. Your body just wants the energy it needs, so it will continue cuing you up for more food until it has what it needs; however, if your body already contains more energy (calories) than it requires for movement and fuel then the energy is stored for future activities as body fat.

Adjusting your caloric intake accordingly is important in order to avoid gaining weight due to increased appetite from regular exercise. Try tracking your daily meals and calculate total amount of calories consumed per day – then adjust as necessary depending on how physically active you are each day. Also remember that having a balanced diet filled with nutrients from various sources is key in maintaining healthy weight levels in addition to regular physical activity!


Overtraining occurs when the volume and intensity of your exercise routine is too great to allow full physical recovery between workouts. This can lead to an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone, and other disruptions in hormone levels that promote weight gain. Additionally, due to fatigue and stress associated with overtraining, many people find that their desire for unhealthy comfort foods increases—ultimately leading to a tendency to eat more calories than they burn during exercise.

It is important for athletes to recognize the signs of overtraining such as increased fatigue or weak performance during training sessions. If you are unable to complete your usual routines without extreme fatigue or if you notice a decrease in performance despite working harder, it’s time for a rest day. It is also important to watch for these signs of overtraining:

– Loss of appetite
– Increased duration or severity of muscle soreness
– Sleeping more than usual
– Anxiety or depression
– Low mood or lack of motivation
– Frequent illnesses

In general, it’s best to take at least one rest day each week and give yourself time off when under stress or feeling unwell. Failing that, try reducing your workout volume while maintaining the same intensity whenever possible.

Tips for Avoiding Weight Gain

Working out can have a lot of long-term health benefits, but it can also lead to the unintended consequence of gaining weight. Weight gain can be caused by things like consuming too many calories or not giving your body enough time to rest and recover. To avoid any unwanted weight gain, there are a few tips that can be very helpful. This section will cover various tips on how to avoid weight gain while exercising.

Prioritize Quality Nutrition

Proper nutrition provides your body with the fuel it needs to achieve physical performance goals or make desired body composition changes. To avoid weight gain, prioritize quality nutrition and make sure that your meals are based on whole, unprocessed foods. Intake of refined carbohydrates and added sugars should be kept to a minimum as they can lead to weight gain. Instead, focus on incorporating lean proteins, healthy fats and fiber-rich carbohydrates into each meal. Additionally, determine your caloric needs based on factors such as activity level, age and gender in order to ensure you’re consuming the right amount of calories for your body’s needs. Lastly, it is important to drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day as dehydration can cause fatigue and overeating which leads to unneeded weight gain. By following these nutritional guidelines you can help ensure that any efforts made in the gym will not result in unwanted weight gain but rather create an overall improvement in health status.

Listen to Your Body

When it comes to avoiding weight gain, listening to your body is key. In other words, instead of following a plan or regimen, pay attention to your own hunger and fullness signals. Eat when you’re actually hungry instead of something that’s simply convenient. Stay mindful of portion sizes and try not to overeat by complementing physical activity with mindful eating habits.

Also, be sure to allow yourself regular treats and indulge from time to time without guilt or shame. Listen to what kind of nourishment–both physical and emotional–you need at any given time; it might not necessarily be food! Spend time outdoors, daydream in the park, dance around your living room or do some yoga or stretching; focus on taking care of yourself rather than trying to lose weight quickly or become distracted by how much workout you should do. When it comes to exercise, maintain realistic expectations and focus on developing long-term healthy habits rather than extreme dieting regimens.

Cycle Through Different Types of Exercise

Regular physical activity is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, but not all activity is the same when it comes to weight management and maintaining an optimal body weight. To achieve the best results and avoid gaining weight while working out, it’s important to cycle through different types of exercise. Cardio activities such as running, cycling or swimming should be done on a regular basis along with resistance or strength training at least two days a week and stretching exercises. Additionally, adding high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be beneficial for those looking to shed pounds since it enhances caloric burn.

When cycling through different types of exercise, it’s important to remember that adequate rest and recovery time is also essential for building muscle and burning fat. To prevent plateaus—or worse—weight gain when working out, consider taking 1-2 days off from the gym per week or doing your workout in periods of 30 minutes at a time followed by short breaks. Lastly, ensure you’re getting sufficient sleep each night in order for your body to properly rest and recuperate from physical activity—this will help regulate appetite hormones as well as preserve muscle mass so you can stay fit without packing on pounds!


In conclusion, the relationship between weight gain and exercise is a complex one, with many factors contributing to the outcome. While it is possible for some people to experience increases in weight as a result of exercising, this often isn’t due to an increase in body fat. This phenomenon can usually be attributed more to an increase in muscle mass or water retention which are both normal and healthy scientific processes.

When attempting to observe a reduction in body fat or an improvement of body composition it is important to remember that diet plays the biggest role here — no matter what type of work out you are doing. Eating healthy food in appropriate portions and keeping your refined sugar intake low will help ensure that your workout efforts aren’t overpowered by unhealthy dietary choices. Additionally, setting realistic expectations around your workouts and understanding their primary goals (strengthening muscles, developing skill level and providing cardiovascular benefits) will give you better insight into why gaining body weight can be a positive outcome.

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