Probably one of the least motivating feelings is seeing the scale go UP when you are dieting. You feel frustrated, confused, and irritated that the number on the scale is appearing to go up despite your hard work.
As frustrating as it may be, don't be discouraged. When dieting there are other things that you should be paying much more attention to. Paying mind to things other than your weight may really change the way you think about dieting. So let your mind relax, drink your water, and trust the process!
How Am I Gaining Weight While Dieting?
This is a very complicated question with a lot of different answers. No one answer is going to necessarily explain why you happen to be experiencing this. However, there are general ways that make it very possible to gain weight in the short-term while sticking to your diet.
It's also very important to realize that this is a short-term circumstance, gaining weight long term while at a caloric deficit means that something just isn't adding up. Calorie intake versus expenditure is the very basic formula to follow with any diet, if you are continuously buring more calories than you are eating or drinking, you will put your body into a caloric deficit which will result in some type of weight loss in the long-run.
However, there are some circumstances that may throw you off for a little bit and leave you puzzled as to why you seemingly aren't losing weight.
1) Water Weight
Water retention can account for a lot of quick weight gains. Typically when you are eating better, you aren't going to gain a pound of fat. However, you may gain a pound or two of water weight. That will go away. Water weight and fat gain are completely different. Water weight is triggered at different times based on the level of exercise you are doing, hormone changes, by not drinking enough water, and changes in sodium or carb levels.
To put this into consideration, water weight can account for up to 5-10 pounds, dependent upon the cause. With an immediate increase in rigorous exercise your muscles might be storing additional glycogen. When you go from a very sedentary lifestyle to a much more active one, your muscle's energy storage capacity increases.
This means that when you are working out, your body needs more fuel and will directly trigger your carbohydrate levels to store as glycogen in your muscles. Glycogen is made with water. So initially when you start a new workout regime you may see an increase in weight. However, over time your muscles will become accustomed to the workouts and need less glycogen, shedding those few pounds of stored water weight.
Also a reason your body may be retaining water is because it is dehydrated. The recommend daily amount is 8 cups per day, minimum. It is very easy to forget about drinking the recommended amount, however your body will hold on to every bit of water when you are dehydrated.
2) Weighing Yourself At Different Times
A very important thing to recognize is timing. If you weigh yourself at the end of the day after 3-5 meals and at least 8 cups of water, you might notice a large difference in your weight than if you were to weigh yourself first thing in the morning.
Also if you are weighing yourself right after you workout, you may notice a slight increase in weight due to the "swelling" of your muscles.
3) Gaining Muscle Losing Fat
A very important long term concept to understand is that if you aren't holding on to a TON of excess fat. You may actually increase weight over time. If your goal is to lose fat and gain muscle, you may lose inches off your waist yet still be gaining weight on the scale.
This is due to the fact that muscle has less volume than fat does. So if you lose fat you may see a dramatic decrease in your overall body composition but not necessarily your weight.
1) How do you feel?
Most importantly, how do you feel? Do you feel deprived? Do you feel like you have more energy? Is the food enough for you? Is it not enough? Really ask yourself these things because it will give you a good starting point. Taking the time to reflect on how you feel through the process is very important! You shoudn't be feeling excessively deprived. You also probably shouldn't feel excessively bloated regularly. A little bloat every now and then is very normal, however if you are noticing excessive bloat it may be due to something else.
2) Track Your Inches and Body Fat %
Tracking your inches is going to be a lot more beneficial than just tracking your weight. Weight fluctuates consistently. However a good rule of thumb is to check how your clothes fit you and if you are in fact losing body fat! Over time you may notice your clothes fitting you differently even if you aren't losing a substantial amount of weight.
Body fat percentages are probably one of the best indicators of your progress. Afterall, most reasons for dieting are to lose body fat. So pay more attention to these details versus your weight.
Be Honest With Yourself, How Good Is Your Diet?
If you have checked all of these reasons off the list and still find yourself gaining weight/ struggling to lose weight or inches, while dieting, be honest with yourself about your diet. Are you actually eating exactly what you should be eating to see the expected results? Are you portioning things out right? Are you weighing your food? It may seem like a really over the top practice to weigh and portion out everything but it can add up in a big way! For the first 3-4 weeks of a diet you should be portioning things out correctly and weighing them if need be. Even if you don't intend on weighing things out forever, it will at least get you comfortable with the correct portions so in the future you can better eye ball these portions.
Trust The Process
Most importantly, trust the process. When dieting, it can be very difficult to feel empowered. You may feel so irritated to not see progress. However, results do not come instantaneously, they take time. The best thing you can do for yourself is stick to your diet, put in the work at the gym, and ask for help! If something doesn't quite seem right to you, reach out to personal trainers or nutritionists to get advice. More than likely they will adjust a few things here and there that may make big differences for you. However, like all great things, results take time! Trust the process, trust the professionals, and relax.
If you need more help structuring your diet check out the Trifecta Templates.