When you first start an exercise regime consisting of weight lifting/resistance training (with the goal being fat loss), don’t be deterred if your weight actually goes up in the first few weeks. I’ll explain why!
If you have never weight trained before, or you’ve spent a long time living a sedentary life, the first few weeks of training are going to be a huge shock to your body and there are a few physiological changes to begin with that if not explained could make you question the plan.
When you first start weight training, 24-72 hours after your workout, you can have extremely sore muscles. This is normal! During your workout you will break down muscle tissue and connective tissue (this is normal) and a good thing as it must be repaired and will come back bigger, stronger and more resistant to injury.
Now, if you have never trained before this process could cause enough inflammation that can lead to a little excess water retention. Why? The body is healing the area. This whole process is referred to as Controlled Acute Inflammation. This extra water retention can actually cause weight gain on the scale! Don’t be scared, this is just extra water NOT fat gain. Also, the metabolic waste products that build up from resistance training can be enough to fluctuate your weight over the course of a week.
During the early stages of your weight training journey the resistance being placed on the muscles will actually cause intra-muscular fat to be pushed out of the muscle and actually become more visible. This will give the appearance of actually gaining fat or having more fat overall. In reality, all you’ve actually done is moved it – this is a good thing and perfectly normal.
Glycogen uptake: Glycogen receptors (GLUTE 4) are embedded in muscle fibres. Muscle contractions during your training sessions will stimulate these receptors to move to the outer-layers of your muscles and signal them to up-take, circulating glucose into muscle cells (insulin sensitivity). The muscle contractions during exercise are like a switch for these receptors. Glycogen receptors allow (sugar in circulation) to be stored in muscle tissue. Skeletal muscle tissue and the liver are the two main places in your body you can store glycogen. The liver stores fructose – fruit sugar and skeletal muscle stores glucose in the form of glycogen. This uptake will give the appearance of larger muscles and possibly weight gain on the scale. This is a good thing (especially for fat loss) and a perfectly normal physiological response to weight training and it happens fast.
Also, if a person is obese and wants to lose weight and starts an educated exercise plan, in the first 1-8 weeks (or even longer) they MAY not lose any scale weight. Why? Because every pound of body fat they lose will be matched with a pound of muscle gained (glycogen uptake) so scale weight remains the same.
To sum up:
So, a 30 year old female who wants to lose body fat starts resistant training. First, her body holds on to slightly more water, which can possibly causes scale weight gain. Second she pushes out intra-muscular fat giving the appearance of MORE body fat. Third, she can now store more glycogen in her muscles giving the appearance of LARGER muscles. Fourth, she is not seeing the scale weight change and possibly even increasing. This is enough to put any beginner off. Without being educated as to what’s happening and why, it would cause some individuals to question the plan and be non compliant. I get it! I advise you seek out a coach with a proven track record of helping people similar to yourself and be persistent and not give up. The results will come.
Liam Horne | Personal Trainer Kensington