Why am I gaining weight while dieting and exercising? 5 reasons you are and how to fix them Today.

why am i gaining weight while dieting and exercising

Confusion and trouble during a weight loss journey can leave yourself asking “Why am i gaining weight while dieting and exercising?”.

There are several reasons this could be happening to you, we are going to cover 5 of those and how you can fix them.

1. Why am I gaining weight while dieting and exercising? You’re in a calorie surplus

If you are gaining weight while doing everything you can to diet and exercise, it might be hard to hear this but you could be eating too much. 

The most important thing for losing weight is to be in a calorie deficit. What you consume has to be less then what you burn throughout the day.

The mistake is commonly made where an individual eats healthy choices, goes to the gym and even runs or walks every day, but they still overconsume. 

A study conducted over 6 years in Britain found that the average self reported calorie error was 32%.

The average self reported calorie total in this study was 2,065 for men and only 1570 for women. When researches collected data on the real numbers the discrepancies were huge.

The real average intake was 3119 calories for men and 2393 for women. 

So it takes more than just hard work for weight loss. You also need smart and guided work. 

Be honest and look at your weekly routine, even if 90% of the days are squeaky clean perfect, do you have one day where you include a cheat day? You need to account for all of these extra calories.

How to fix the problem

The first step to fix this problem if you think you are eating too many calories, is to use a calorie calculator. 

A calculator will give you a great starting point of how many calories you should really be eating. 

Once you have that number, start tracking how many calories you eat each day. Using a diet journal or an easy to use app like my fitness pal, record every little thing you eat. A food scale makes the measuring process easier.

You don’t have to track calories forever. The main goal here is to better understand how much calories food has and how much you are currently consuming.

After about a week or so, compare your daily calorie totals with how much you should have been eating via the calculator. 

2. You haven’t waited long enough.

If you are sure that you aren’t over-eating, the next place to look at is how long you’ve been trying. 

Weight jumps around each day and most of the time your weight loss wont be a straight line down. If it’s only been a week, chances are you won’t notice the weight drop if its happening. 

One day the scale might show a 1 pound weight loss but somehow the very next day results in a 1 pound weight gain.

Don’t be alarmed like many people are when they see this, weight fluctuates on average 2.2 to 4.4 pounds in the time span of a few days.

There are a number of reasons why your weight might be jumping around, leaving you asking that dreaded question of “Why am i gaining weight while dieting and exercising.”

Hormonal changes, water retention and genetics are just a few of the many factors that can affect your weight from day to day. 

How to fix the problem

The most common offender to weight fluctuation is water weight. If you want to shrink the gaps between the ups and downs, target the areas that cause you to gain water weight. 

  • Stay hydrated. Being dehydrated causes your body to try to hold on to the water it has.  
  • Watch the sodium intake. Excess sodium can cause a increase in water retention. 
  • Avoid very high carb diets. Carbs tend to hold on average 4 grams of water per gram of carbs.

Using these tips to lower your water weight can help lower weight fluctuation and stop those demotivating weight jumps.

3. Why am I gaining weight while dieting and exercising? You aren’t consistent enough. 

Be honest with yourself, how many days per week do you have a cheat meal? Maybe loosen up a bit at social gatherings and chow on some high calorie food?

Not being consistent enough on your healthy routine is a strong and common reason you will not only stop losing weight but also sometimes gain some. 

95% of diets fail, regaining all of the the lost weight. 

It might feel good to treat yourself to a nice large burger and fries with a milkshake. Doing this as a “earned reward” at the end of a week can erase all the hard work and progress you made. 

Similarly, sticking to the gym is a common problem as well. 90% of gym goers quit after 3 months.

You might be proud of yourself for finding the will power for going to the gym a couple times a month, but to truly see progress in changing your body and performance, you need to be going consistently.

Once or twice a week is fine for most people, but if you want to see big results, you would need to put in more work than just that. 

How to fix the problem 

If you view yourself as one of many who can’t stay consistent enough, don’t worry, here is how you can tackle the issue. 

For diet and exercise in the long term, it’s all about developing healthy and sustainable habits. Look at what you do right now, do you enjoy it? Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you just want to quit?

If you answered yes to any of these it’s probably time to change things up. 

Have a better relationship with food and exercise, take things slow and 1 step at a time. 

If you have a goal of losing weight, start in a small deficit, about 1 pound lost a week. In addition start to slowly add healthier foods and more protein. 

Learn to enjoy the process and how the healthier diet makes you feel. 

Don’t be restricting towards yourself. It is ok to have “unhealthy meals” from time to time. Avoid telling yourself you can’t have something, instead look for reasons why you would enjoy healthier options. 

Working out should follow a similar approach. There is a lot of commitment that goes into following a workout routine. You have to set time aside, put in real hard effort, maybe even drive to a location like a gym. 

This is a lot to do especially for new lifters. 

So again, take things slow. Instead of 5 days a week, go for 2 or 3 until you feel comfortable doing that. 

Just remember, it might take longer then you first thought, but be overworked and quitting will never get you there anyways. You might figure out that something you wouldn’t have thought of like intermittent fasting works out for you after some trial and error.

4.You could be building muscle.

Finally the last answer to the question “why am i gaining weight while dieting and exercising”, you might be building muscle. 


Don’t be.

It’s not a myth, you can actually build muscle and lose weight at the same time, a process commonly referred to in body building as recomposition. 

In a study at McMaster University in 2016, researchers had 40 out of shape individuals undergo controlled diet and workout plans. 

Two groups were created, both on a low calorie diet, but 1 group had higher protein. 

The amazing result was that not only did the higher protein group lose body fat, but they also gained muscle as well!

If you are overweight or new to fitness, body recomposition may very well be affecting you if you also partake in resistance training.

Because of this, don’t be distraught if you double checked and are doing everything right in your diet and workouts. 

At the end of the day, losing fat and replacing that same weight with muscle might not move the scale, but it will make you look and feel a lot better than if you had just aimed for losing weight. 

How to fix the problem

If you are building muscle, there isn’t really a problem to fix. 

You do however have several ways to check your muscle progress. 

Checking your fat percentage is the method we’ll go with. As long as your fat percentage is going down, be happy in knowing you are making progress regardless your total weight not adjusting. 

Methods to check body fat percentage at home without going to a special facility include a bodyweight scale and body fat calipers. Whatever you choose, be consistent with the variables around each measurement. Keep things at around the same time, before eating and with the same method.

Why am i gaining weight while dieting and exercising: Conclusion

To summarize, don’t freak out if you see the scale moving in the opposite direction. You are still in control, there are things that can be changed.

  • Look at your total calories and see if you are eating too many for your goal. 
  • You haven’t weighted long enough and are just seeing very normal weight fluctuations. 
  • Be honest, are you doing everything you say you do, consistently? 
  • Check if you might in fact be building muscle. If you are, congrats! 

If these tips helped you out today, spread the information with your friends and social media!