I was told that weight training was a great way to burn fat and build some muscle. However, I’ve been training for a month or two and I’ve actually gained weight. Why is this?
This is one where we need to touch on the initial adaptations to strength training. Our body does not want to have to build muscle – that’s an inefficient use of excess calories when it comes to survival. Therefore, the initial adaptations to training include other ways to improve strength and performance besides hypertrophy. One of those ways is through storing extra glycogen in the muscle. Glycogen is a derivative of dietary carbohydrate and is our primary fuel source during intense training. The more we can store in the muscle, the more immediate energy you have for training.
Introducing a strength training program forces muscle cells to store more glycogen to improve workout performance, so after a month or so of training you’ll probably see an extra few pounds on the scale even though you’ve lost some body fat. This is because every gram of glycogen holds on to 3-4 grams of water when stored in the muscle – these grams can easily add up to a few pounds on the scale.
Keto or low carb diets may not experience this phenomenon quite as much as you won’t have quite the glycogen surplus compared to a moderate or high carb diet.