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The Top 3 Reasons Why Your Intense Workout Could Be Causing Weight Gain

With the rise of Crossfit workouts, box-style and circuit training gyms – HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has been rising exponentially in popularity. And rightly so. 

HIIT workouts involve working at a high level of intensity for a short period of time, followed by a period of rest. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

These interval-style workouts can not only boost your metabolism, lower your blood pressure, and improve your brain function, but they also do it in half the time of a typical full-body gym workout. [1]  

But with all the hype around HIIT, we wondered if these type of workouts were truly effective as a weight loss tool? 

Honey Coach says, “high-intensity training deprives muscles of oxygen much more quickly than regular cardio. This forces your body to burn more fuel during the muscle repair process, long after your workout is over. The overall effect? A revved-up metabolism that can help contribute to weight loss.” 

So, while HIIT workouts do deliver the promise to increase your fitness and rev up your metabolism (hello, afterburn!), they shouldn’t be the only component in your weight loss tool kit. In order to see positive body changes, HIIT could be a part of one’s overall wellness plan… not the whole shebang! 

But, what if you find yourself actually GAINING WEIGHT since you started incorporating HIIT workouts into your healthy routine?!

Here Are The 3 Most Common Reasons Why You May Be Gaining Weight With HIIT Workouts:

At the top of this list is the most likeliest culprit… your diet.


  1. YOU’RE NOT FUELING YOUR BODY PROPERLY
     

Ever heard the saying: “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet”? 

Undisputedly your HIIT workout will improve your fitness and give you a good sweat, but it won’t help you lose weight IF you’re not keeping an eye on your daily nutrition. 

In fact, research has shown that the best bet for weight loss is a combination of both exercise and diet modifications.

One extensive study compared the weight loss results of participants who focused on only exercise or only diet to those who combined exercise, diet and other behavioral modifications. 

It was the group who modified BOTH diet and exercise who lost significantly more weight than either of the two other groups. [2] 

PRO TIP: The mistake we often make is assuming that just because we’re exercising (especially when we’re exercising intensely), that we can eat whatever we want!  

Instead, combine your HIIT workouts with proper nutrition and you’ll notice those inches coming off in no time. 

  1. TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? 

When it comes to your workouts, you CAN get too much of a good thing. In fact, some fitness experts suggest that you cut back on your HIIT training if the scale won’t budge. 

People who may be doing HIIT every single day don’t realize that it taxes the nervous system. Overworking the body, through too many high intensity workouts could lead to repercussions, like injury and weight gain. 

If you are doing HIIT workouts every single day, there’s a chance you could be overtraining – and exercise overtraining has been linked to elevated cortisol levels which can result in weight gain, primarily around the belly. [3]

PRO TIP: If you’re noticing weight gain, it’s recommended to do HIIT workouts only once or twice a week to avoid overtraining and keep hormone levels in check. 

  1. YOU’RE TOO IMPATIENT!

You’ve just started high intensity interval training, and you’re being mindful of fueling your body properly, only the scale is going up, not down. Hmph. What gives?

It turns out that it’s actually incredibly common to experience a bit of weight gain within the first few weeks of starting any exercise program, including HIIT. Besides – the change on the scale likely does not equate to additional body fat!

So, What’s Actually Causing The Weight Gain With HIIT Workouts?

When you begin a new exercise program, your body is undergoing a lot of new stressors – yes, exercise is one form of stress!  

New muscles are being recruited and “micro tears” + inflammation are being created in the muscle fibres. The body is very smart, and responds by retaining water at the site of “injury” and as a form of healing and protection. [4] 

This change is only temporary, however, and will subside after a few weeks of training.  

PRO TIP: Instead of freaking out when you see the scale number rising, take a breath and know that results will come in time. Stick with your plan! 

Ok, we all know that exercise is excellent for health, and it’s not the only factor in achieving weight loss. So don’t expect to shed a lot of pounds by ramping up physical activity alone. 

BUT… one of the best ways to boost your workout results, no matter which type of exercise you’re doing, is to amp up your post-workout grub!   

Our Banana Protein Pancake recipe is jam-packed with recovery-lovin’ protein to fuel your muscles and satisfy your sweet tooth without wreaking havoc on your waistline or dashing your healthy efforts! 

RECIPE

Banana Protein Pancakes (makes 4 servings) 

Ingredients 

½ cup rolled oats

½ cup protein powder

2 Tbsp whole flaxseed, fresh ground

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp sea salt

2 bananas

2 whole eggs

2 Tbsp non dairy milk

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1 Tbsp maple syrup and/or berries (for each serving, as topping) 

Preparation 

Combine dry ingredients: oats, flaxseed, protein powder, cinnamon, baking powder, sea salt, and mix well. 

In a separate bowl, mash bananas until smooth. Then add eggs & non-dairy milk. Beat with a whisk until smooth. 

Combine wet and dry ingredients until batter is formed. 

In pan, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Pour batter and cook each side of pancake for 1-2 minutes. 

Top with maple syrup or any fruit of your choice for a delicious protein-packed breakfast!

REFERENCES 

[1] Healthline (June 2017) – 7 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) 

[2] STUDY: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (October 2014) – Diet or Exercise Interventions vs Combined Behavioral Weight Management Programs: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Direct Comparisons 

[3] University Health News Daily (March 2019) – How Much Exercise Is Too Much? 

[4] Cleveland Clinic: Health Essentials (December 2015) – I Just Started exercising – Why Am Gaining Weight? 

Honey Coach (2018) – The Science Behind HIIT Workouts for Weight Loss 

VOX (January 2019) – The science is in: exercise won’t help you lose much weight 

STUDY: Journal of Obesity (November 2010) – High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss