3 Reasons You Are Gaining Weight Even While Exercising More

Updated on December 7, 2017
Nick Tourville profile image

Weight Loss Expert & Author. End Dieting Forever, Eliminate Cravings & Stop Overeating! Passionate at helping people transform their bodies!

Many of us feel obligated to exercise in order to indulge. I know. I used to feel like I had to exercise in order to have an extra helping of food at dinner or dessert.

Sometimes what we thought would help us lose weight, actually backfires and causes us to gain weight though. If we are not doing the right type of exercise or exercising in the wrong way (which nearly everyone does), we may actually gain weight. It’s essential that you understand how to prevent yourself from becoming susceptible to this type of weight gain.

Let’s understand why you may not be losing weight from exercise, and may even be gaining weight. There are three main problems.

1. Increased Appetite From Exercise

Ever heard of the saying, “you worked up an appetite?” Yes, this is in fact true. Our body reacts to the calories we just burned through exercise by increasing our appetite.

How many of you work out in order to eat? Or think, “Oh I just worked out, so I can treat or reward myself.” If you’re like most people, the answer is yes, we do feel like we can reward ourselves after exercising. Especially today with our craze over with staying lean, we often exercise to compensate for unhealthy eating or overeating.

The key word is "compensation."

To us, more exercise means we can eat more or eat unhealthy. Unfortunately, we often overestimate the amount of calories we have burned during a workout while underestimating the calories we consume.

Here’s the facts: If you’re 155 pounds, 30 minutes of jogging on the treadmill is only going to burn around 300 calories. That’s one more slice of pizza for dinner.

30 minutes of jogging is a lot for some of us! It's almost 3 miles of running, and it can be exhausting. The problem is we feel like we have burned more calories than one slice of pizza. We want to reward ourselves with more than just one slice; we want to add a milkshake and other tasty treats.

In reality the amount of calories we burn during exercise is pretty insignificant. We really do not burn as many calories during exercise as we think, and it's very easy to consume more calories than we burn off.

This is only worsened by the second problem.

2. Burnout

If you’ve ever had an exhausting workout, you know the feeling, “I could eat a horse.” You’re so tired and burned out from the workout that you crave energy! You want to eat and replenish your energy reserves.

As a former collegiate athlete and current coach, I see it happen everywhere. Kids and adults alike run themselves into the ground through exercise. It may be lifting weights or running for extended periods of time. Whatever it is, we exhaust ourselves through exercise. It may be to decrease stress or because we want to lose weight, but either way it has ramifications in the eating habits we develop.

The issue is we confuse our true biological hunger with the psychological exhaustion from our workout. Our real hunger is not nearly as intense as the psychological hunger we feel. As a result, we eat way more than we should.

I often hear this excuse:

“But don’t I need to eat a lot to refuel my muscles? I need proteeeeein! Otherwise I won’t build muscle and recover properly.”

Studies actually show that post-workout meals are often unnecessary. They are only beneficial when pre-workout nutrition is already inadequate. Unless you start the workout starving, a meal after your workout may not be mandatory.

It’s best to be in tune with how hungry you are than force food down your throat because you think you need the nutrition.

Furthermore, exhausting workouts repeated over time, like the ones that we use in conjunction with dieting, can burn us out. Many of us have started a diet or workout program and had a lot of motivation to do it at first. We are super excited and committed to it. Over time, our motivation decreases and we lose the drive we initially had.

We may have lost a lot of weight after a couple months of exhausting workouts, but burnout will get to us. We may lessen the intensity of the workouts or we may even quit cold turkey. In either case we are going to gain some if not all of the weight back. Exercise always needs to be done in a way that is sustainable over long periods of time—not just a quick month or two stint.

3. Cortisol Is Sabotaging You!

Exercise is often touted as the solution to stress, but if approached and performed incorrectly, it can actually release too much of the fight or flight hormone cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.

Research shows that elevated levels of cortisol increase appetite and cause the body to preserve more fat, especially around your midsection! Excess belly fat is a strong indicator of elevated cortisol levels. Your cortisol levels will normally increase from too much stress at work or not sleeping enough, but you may also have elevated cortisol levels if…

  • You are exercising too much.
  • Exercise has become something you feel obligated to do.
  • Your workouts have become monotonous.

Exercise will automatically increase your cortisol levels because exercise is a stressor on the body—it breaks down your muscle tissue, and your body is required to repair it. On the other hand, exercise also increases the amount of endorphins, or feel-good chemicals, in your body.

When we exercise properly, the amount of cortisol released is offset by this influx of endorphins. We always release both during a workout, but a few factors determine whether the net result is a greater amount of endorphins or a greater amount of cortisol.

When we exercise excessively, we do not give the body enough time to recover and heal. When your body is under severe strain like this, your cortisol levels increase and your metabolism slows down to actually help you conserve energy. This reaction is a survival mechanism that has allowed humans to survive for millions of years.

Furthermore, when exercise becomes merely an obligation or too monotonous, we derive no pleasure from it! Working out should NOT be something we do just to lose weight. It should never be something that causes us anxiety or stress just by thinking about it, as this will only increase your cortisol levels (and fat storage) further.

The Best Way to Work Out for Weight Loss

If you are seeing no weight loss from your workouts or you are even gaining weight, you need to understand what’s going on. You may be affected by the three problems listed already, and/or you may not performing the correct types of workouts!

It’s true that the workouts we perform account only for a small portion of daily calorie burn, but that doesn’t take into consideration the metabolic changes that occur. There are specific types of workouts that will keep burning calories and blasting away fat for up to 48 hours after! These are the types of workouts we need to start doing.

The right type of workout will:

  1. Burn calories for hours after the workout,
  2. Shred fat while you are sleeping,
  3. Develop lean muscle mass

We would normally think the long, strenuous burn-out workouts (running on a treadmill for an hour, lifting for 2 hours) help us out the most when it comes to weight loss. However, this approach can cause more harm than good. Since overly intense workouts can cause increased appetite, burnout and elevated cortisol levels, it is oftentimes best to do less.

Workouts that incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are your best bet for maximum fat burning. Personally, I've trained clients using a 20 minute HIIT protocol only twice/week with fantastic results. Remember less can be more!

Do you do workout more than 30 minutes per day?

See results

HIIT Workout

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, caloriebee.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)