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Why Do I Feel Like I'm Losing Weight But I'm Gaining It?

author image Toby Pendergrass
Toby Pendergrass began writing and editing in 1998. He has served as editor for numerous custom health publications and physician journals. His work has appeared in publications such as Hospital Corporation of America's "YOU." He enjoys writing about cardiology and cancer care and holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Why Do I Feel Like I'm Losing Weight But I'm Gaining It?
Muscle often increases total body weight.

The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition reports that you have the greatest chance of achieving significant weight loss by embracing a plan that includes low-calorie eating and regular exercise. Most balanced exercise regimens include strength training, or workouts that build muscle. Although exercise promotes better calorie burning, you may feel as if your body is actually gaining weight after several weeks of activity. Understand the relationship between increased muscle and weight loss in order to avoid confusion.

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Fat Reduction & Exercise

People who are overweight are more likely suffer a future with health problems that include cancer, gallbladder disease, stroke and sleep apnea, according to Although the media typically focus on aerobic exercise as a primary method to regain slimness, strength training that triggers muscle growth is also key to achieving a healthy body weight. Strength exercise includes weightlifting, either on machines or with hand weights or free weights like barbells. People who strength-train at least three times weekly for 30 minutes or more gain an enhanced ability to burn calories. The activity also elevates your metabolic rate so that you burn calories not only more efficiently but also for hours after you put your barbells aside.

Confusing Results

Strength training is a proven method for weight loss, but the Cleveland Clinic reports that you may feel as though you’re gaining fat — or maintaining the same number on the scale — since muscle adds to your total body weight. Weightlifting that increases muscle reduces the unhealthy fat on your hips and stomach, but muscle weighs more than fat. The tradeoff is healthy, since muscle offers health rewards to your body and won’t cause the disease or other life-threatening conditions associated with excess fat.

Healthy Measurements

Judging the success of a strength-training regimen by the number you see on the weight scale can cause confusion, so consider other methods that demonstrate the healthy results of your work. An exercise diary is a good place to document changes to the way you feel, including improved endurance, faster speed and less shortness of breath after an intense workout. You’ll likely be able to celebrate having increased tone in your arms and legs, as measurements of your hips and waist and other areas will typically decrease.

Unhealthy Eating & Physical Activity

Although exercise often improves the way you feel and may produce some level of weight loss without modifying your diet, the results on the scale are unlikely to match your expectations if you consume high-calorie desserts and fried meat or snacks. Exercise burns calories quickly, but you need to take in at least 500 fewer calories with your meals than you use every day to decrease your weight by even a pound per week. Adjust your diet to include fruit, whole grains and vegetables and ask your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist if you need advice on meal planning.

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