Last updated on February 28th, 2023 at 05:29 pm
Is there anything more frustrating than losing weight, but actually feeling fatter.
Believe it or not, this is a lot more common than you would think.
Here’s why you’re feeling (or actually are) fatter, even though you’ve dropped a few pounds.
One of the main reasons you feel fatter after losing weight is due to water retention. So, in effect, you are losing weight, but simply retaining water, which may cause swelling. With that being said, it can also be the case that you have lost water weight, but are yet to actually lose any fat. Furthermore, excessive dieting and excessive cardio can lead to you losing muscle mass. And this will make you both feel and look fatter.
Table of Contents
“Water” is Making You Fatter After Losing Weight
Water plays a massive role in how your body looks.
So, if you’re trying to lose weight, or even gain weight, water is something you need to be wary of.
If you think about it, the human body is approximately 60% water.
Plus, all of our vital organs are mainly composed of water.
In fact, the brain and heart are 73% water, the muscles and kidneys are 79% water, whereas the lungs are composed of 83% water.
Now, if your body fails to manage water and fluids correctly this can lead to water retention.
There are various reasons this can occur including kidney issues, hormonal imbalances, being inactive, and obesity.
However, one of the most common causes of water retention is increased sodium intake.
In fact, many of the foods that we typically love, but have to avoid when on a diet, are extremely high in sodium content.
Then again, once you do decide to eat a healthier diet you may find that you season your food much more, as you’re no longer enjoying those tasty but unhealthy treats.
This can lead to water retention which generally causes the body to swell.
So, in effect, you may have lost weight, but the swelling caused by water retention actually makes you look fatter.
Just to confuse matters somewhat, many people typically lose water weight initially when going on a diet.
In fact, some people even find that they pee excessively while losing weight.
So, they will end up weighing less, but they haven’t yet actually lost any body fat, just water.
In both cases, actually drinking MORE water, limiting simple carbohydrates (and some complex ones too), while increasing your activity levels, can fix this.
You’re Losing Muscle Mass
In truth, most people don’t actually need to “lose weight”, but rather body fat.
Okay, there are exceptions to this rule, and this is typically those who are extremely overweight or obese.
But, if you’re someone who feels that they’re perhaps just a few pounds overweight, you can dramatically change your physique without actually losing weight.
For most people weight loss typically involves consuming fewer calories and increasing their activity levels.
However, a popular method of doing this is by crash-dieting and performing excessive amounts of cardio.
Now, while the weight may initially fall off, this isn’t a healthy way to lose weight, plus it isn’t sustainable.
But, the outcome is that the weight you’re losing is likely to be muscle mass.
Furthermore, to make matters worse, this type of diet and exercise is likely to reduce your metabolic rate.
However, keeping your metabolism running high is probably the best way to lose weight, burn body fat, or to simply change your physique.
Basically, the higher your metabolic rate, the more calories you burn throughout the day, even while at rest.
I will also say that many people who are trying to lose weight are scared of “muscles”.
In fact, you may even completely avoid any type of weight training for the fear of getting “bulky”.
But, in truth, in order to get bulky you’re going to have to lift some extremely heavy weights and dramatically increase your calorie intake.
And even then there’s no guarantee that you’re going to bulk up.
Your aim should actually be to build lean muscle mass.
The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate, and the more calories you burn.
This is also why most people plateau in their weight loss efforts.
Plus, this is why you’ll often see someone who performs a lot of cardio still looking fat, overweight, or just plain unhealthy.
A great comparison is to look at the physiques of a sprinter and a marathon runner.
The marathon runner typically looks sick, gaunt, underfed, and unhealthy.
Whereas, our sprinter looks muscular, sexy, fit and healthy.
So, if you’re looking for that ideal physique you need to work more on maintaining or increasing muscle mass, as opposed to burning it off.
You’re More Self-Conscious & Critical
Something else to consider when you’re trying to lose weight is that you become more self-conscious of your body.
You know yourself that you take a quick look every time you pass a mirror.
You’re more aware if your clothes feel tighter or looser.
Plus, you’re also likely to be far more critical if you feel things aren’t going your way.
This is a completely natural human reaction.
So, every time you look in a mirror you’re probably noticing areas of body fat that you may not have seen before.
That being said, you’ve probably noticed that gym mirrors actually make you look better, although this is more a “trick of the trade”.
Then again, you study every single contour, roll of fat, crease or fold of your body with far more intensity.
In effect, you’ve probably gone years without ever paying that much attention to your body.
And suddenly now it’s the first thing that you look at every single day.
This is also why I think that taking photos is the best way to determine weight/fat loss.
Looking at yourself in the mirror and relying on memory will automatically make you more self-critical.
Plus, a set of weighing scales won’t always tell the full story.
This is especially true if you have been gaining lean muscle mass and losing body fat.
So, you really don’t have to find fault in your physique, as long as you know that you’re moving in the right direction.
If you feel fitter, more energetic, your clothes are a little looser, then you know things are going well.
Key Learning Points
- “Feeling fatter” could actually be nothing more than water retention.
- The weight toy have “lost” could be water weight, but you’re yet to lose any body fat.
- If you lose muscle mass you will generally tend to look fatter.
- Decreased muscle mass slows down your metabolic rate, which in turn makes it more difficult to burn body fat.
- When trying to lose weight to become more self conscious and critical of yourself. Perhaps you’re more aware of things about your body that you’ve never noticed before.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.