It is well known that working out can cause you to lose fat and gain muscle. As muscle weighs more than fat, you can slim down while seeing your numbers go up. But, did you know that over-exercising can cause you to gain weight in the form of fat?
Overtraining, or working out at a constant level beyond your fitness, can have hormonal and inflammation impacts on the body. Overtraining can lower thyroid function, increase inflammatory cytokines and up stress and hunger hormones — all of which makes the body store fat. This means that you don’t have to change your diet to gain weight, your body will react to food differently than it has in the past. Your body thinks it’s facing strife and responds by hoarding fat like it’s preparing for a famine. It might seem counterintuitive. It’s not that people always overeat after exercise; it’s that their bodies are actually changing.
We usually think our bodies changing due to exercise is a good thing, but an excess of the hormone cortisol can upset your health and can lead to increased inflammation, sleep problems, gaining belly fat and gaining weight overall. It drives hunger and cravings as well, so your post-workout meal may be larger, along with the hormone making your body react to it differently. Picking out what you’re having as an after-gym meal before you begin, can help you avoid this problem. But, additionally, changing up your routine can help. Yoga or meditation can lower your cortisol levels. Moreover, giving yourself rest days, where you don’t workout can aid your body’s recovery and make your exercise more beneficial.
There are signs to spot overtraining. Working out is supposed to make you feel good. If you’re moody or irritated after a workout, you may have pushed yourself too hard. If you’re getting ill frequently, it might be time to scale back at the gym. If you cannot sleep or you seem to be putting on weight, you may be exercising too much. All of this means you may want to look into scaling back a bit or taking more rest days between workouts.
If you have seen these problems, you may want to learn more about “intuitive exercise,” based on listening to your body and trying out multiple forms of exercise to find what works for you. Speaking to a knowledgeable trainer or fitness instructor could help you get on the track to a fitness regime that you like! Of course, talk to your doctor before making any radical changes to your lifestyle.