When you set out to drop pounds, part of your game plan probably includes working out consistently.
When you set out to drop pounds, part of your game plan probably includes working out consistently. (You go, girl.)
But it can be really confusing when you notice the number on the scale increasing after your initial effort. What gives?!
“Exercise is a stress on your body, which creates micro tears in your muscles, and the inflammation from those tears will cause you to retain more water,” explains Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S, author of The Female Body Breakthrough.
And, as you begin working out, your body might start to store more glycogen in your muscles to make sure you've got lots of stored carbs (i.e. glycogen) to burn during your next workout, which will also tip the scale a bit higher, she says.
Though the scale might make you feel like you’re doing something wrong, that’s not the case. Your body just needs time to adjust, says Cosgrove.
“As you stay consistent, you will start to see your body-fat levels drop and your weight come down,” she says.
Follow her tips to keep your progress up and the scale down from day one.
It might sound weird, but in order to retain less water you need to drink more water, says Cosgrove. That's because dehydration causes your body to hold onto its current supply of water.
To ensure that you're staying at peak hydration, make sure you're drinking at least one ounce of water per pound of your body weight.
So if you're 145 pounds, that's 145 ounces a day.
Since your body is doing its thing to build and repair muscles that haven’t been used in a while, the scale will not give you the whole picture of the healthy changes happening when you first start working out, says Cosgrove.
And that can be discouraging. The key is to not let that little number keep you from getting so frustrated that you stop working out and eating healthy, which might lead to putting more weight on.
So instead of weighing yourself, pay attention to how your clothes fit as a gauge of your progress.
Once you've been working out consistently for eight weeks, your muscle gains and water weight should stabilize, so you’ll have a more accurate number, she says.
Hitting the gym every day in an effort to lose weight faster will backfire.
“Your body needs time to recover between workouts to let the micro tears repair, keeping inflammation to a minimum,” says Cosgrove.
She recommends working out two to four times a week when you’re first starting out, never working out more than two days in a row.
Eat a snack or meal with plenty of protein and carbs (strive for at least 20 grams and 50 grams, respectively) within 30 minutes of your workout to aid your body’s recovery, decrease inflammation, and reduce water retention.
For an easy snack, Cosgrove suggests a banana and whey protein smoothie or non-fat Greek yogurt with fruit.