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Has anyone else who is or was new to running noticed they put on weight???

asked over 2 years ago | Report

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  • Yup.. usually due to water retention (and not due to increased muscle, as is commonly thought). Thats why it's generally thought of as being better to pay attention to measurements instead of the scale.

    answered over 2 years ago |Report

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  • So, I'm not comPLETELY crazy? :) I didn't think it was muscle, but I was just a bit confused at why I'd feel like I'm gaining weight when I'm exercising. So, well then my question would be: is water retention normal when you first start running?

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  • I'm not sure that I did. I very much noticed that I slimmed down quite a bit.

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  • YES! I was thin to begin with and everybody has told me that I've lost weight, but then I step on that scale and get confused. I really do think it's just muscle, but I know it can be frustrating. I look in the mirror and at my mileage instead of looking at the scale. And I smile.

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  • Here's a pretty good explanation of what people typically mean when they say 'water weight' and how it is affected by exercise and diet: http://www.justinowings.com/understanding-bodyweight-and-glycogen-de/

    I'm not a nutritionist or anything, but that article pretty much sums up the accumulated info I've found over the past couple years. In short - every gram of glycogen in your bloodstream requires a certain amount of water to tag along with it. As you go from (relatively) sedentary to exercising, you increase your glycogen stores in your blood and muscles, so it is typical to gain weight due to glycogen itself plus the water it carries with it.

    Muscle mass does increase, but very slowly, and usually caps. Several months ago I came across a scientific study that indicated that the maximum gain, assuming optimal conditions (ie, great genetics, extremely hard work, proper diet), of a human is something on the order of 1 oz of lean muscle per day. Thats about 20 lbs per year. Unfortunately I can't find that cite (but I'll keep trying - because I hate saying something without the ability to back it up!). But either way, if you google something like 'how much muscle can a human gain' - you'll come up with a bunch of hits citing similar numbers. However, keep in mind that 20 lb/yr figure is for a body builder - as endurance athletes, we're not building bulk, so we fall way short of the 20lb/yr figure.

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  • I lost weight when I started running. When I started training for my half and increasing mileage, I gained weight. I'm with Ryan, I don't pay much attention to the scale.

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  • Glad i'm not alone!!

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  • Water weight may be a factor, but I'll throw in a few others. I lost 90 lbs last year through better nutrition and LOTS of cardio in the gym (mostly elliptical). I started running soon after since I always wanted to AND the gym was getting pretty boring. I haven't gained much weight, but running as a primary way to keep the weight off isn't nearly as effective. Some say it could be the weight of bulkier leg muscles or the body keeping some water, but I tend to think it's more common sense things when you step back and look at it over a longer period of time and not just day-to-day on the scale.

    A few possibilities:

    1) Just by the sheer numbers...running burns off less calories than many other cardio activities over the same time span.

    2) Running tends to make many people hungry when you get back. This one is a "you control your own fate" at the refrigerator thing, but you have to make note of it.

    3) Most good running plans suggest at least 1-2 rest days per week, where other diet/exercise plans have you hitting the gym every day. Running is hard on the body and you need to rest for many reasons, but staving off injuries is a big one. Non-impact cardio activities like stationary biking or ellipical cross-training or swimming can be done more often with less injury impact.

    4) Similar to the last one, but most runners get sore or injured at some point and are forced to take breaks in their training. Often this is coupled by eating during the downtime when you don't know what to do with yourself.

    answered over 2 years ago |edited over 2 years ago |Report

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  • Defiantly water weight (I'm sure) I can gain up to 5lbs from it. It's one way for me to know how hydrated I am.

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  • yep gaining weight is not at all unusal.

    First there is the mentioned additional water being retained.

    But as Michael says its very easy to over-estimate how much calories you burn off running, especially when your a beginner and can only safely run for 20-30 minutes.... if you then come in and 'reward' yourself your almost certainly going to be eating more calories than you used...

    Unfortunately a small amount of running stimulates the appetite, particularly for carb rich foods, for some thats extra potatoes, for others its chocolate cake (im more the chocolate cake type myself)

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