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Weight Loss
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Gaining Weight While Exercising and Eating Right. Seriously Help!

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Hi, I'm looking for some help/advice from some knowledgeable people about why I could be gaining weight while exercising and eating right. In the past year almost down to the week I've gained about 20 pounds even though I have been consistently exercising and while not being perfect through out the  past year eating wise I have been conscienciously making smart mindful choices. After the holidays I really made a commitment to eating healthy again after that rough week between xmas and new years.

Just to give a little background I was a Division I athlete all throughout college and I graduated in 2009 so working out was pretty much my job for 4 years and I know what a hard work out is and I know how to push myself and I feel that I try to push myself in my current workouts. I also realize that its only natural that I would gain some weight after college since I can't really replicate my college DI days, but I feel 20 pounds is just too much and feel extremely frustrated. I'm 5'6 and I have an athletic build so the 20 pounds for whatever reason isn't terribly noticeable on me but many of my clothes don't fit the same way anymore and I feel uncomfortable in my own skin now. 

And I have had some success in past year in terms of weight loss but I have to be 100% perfect and if I fall off the wagon for just an evening I instantly gain back 5 pounds that won't go away from a couple of days of eating clean and exercising.

I'm starting to feel more concerned about my health than just frustrated by my lack of weight loss. I feel like there could be more going on than just me not doing the right thing. 

Here is a typical day of eating for me:

Breakfast: 1 slice of Protein Bread from Trader Joes, 1-2 tbsp of organic peanut butter and half a banana. Sometimes I'll have a tiny bit of organic honey instead of banana. I also have soft boiled eggs or egg whites very often as well. I drink about half a cup of coffee with half and half and some splenda in it.

Lunch: Eggs or egg whites with onions, peppers, a quarter of a cup of cheese or a tbsp of Parmesan cheese. Or I usually have a spinach salad with some feta, strawberries, a few walnuts, and just plain balsamic vinaigrette as a dressing.

Dinner: Stir fry with chicken, different veggies like peppers, cabbage, onions, broccoli. 1 to 1/2 cup of white or brown rice. we eat a lot of meat in my house. could that be my problem?

Snack: try to mix it everyday with either humms, veggies, hard boiled egg, almonds, 4 rice crackers, fruit.

Usually my day ends up being around 1400 calories eaten or more.

I dont really drink that often. Maybe once or twice a week and most times I'll only have one drink and it's either vodka and soda water or a glass of red wine. 

Exercise: 5 plus miles 3 to 4 times a week, I lift weights 2 to 3 times a week on my own or I'll follow a workout video thats on demand and I always use heavy weights, I do interval training on a stationary bike 2 times a week. I have bad knees from my college days so I try to take it easy some days by walking for an hour but thats only about 1 day a week and I really enjoy working out so it's not a struggle for me to get motivated.

I know this is a long post, but I really need some advice and I wanted to give a whole picture. I lost weight a couple of years ago very easily by doing exactly what I'm doing now, but this time it isn't working at all. I'm only 24 years old and I do have a lot of muscle on me and I just feel like I'm too young and too active to have such a dramatic slowing down of my metabolism.  I've already decided that I'm going to cut back on my meat and dairy consumption and try to focus on eating more vegetables. But if something doesn't change soon I feel that I should go to see my doctor because I'm legit starting to get worried about my health.

Again, sorry about the very long post.

14 Replies (last)

No one food group is going to make you gain or lose weight. Do you track your calories on here or do you just eyeball them and count in your head? You may be underestimating the amount you actually eat. OR on the flip-side, you may actually be eating too little. So track on here if you don't, and if you do try increasing your calories.

Your workout routine looks fantastic, just make sure you're really challenging your body.

I do track here and as we all know it's hard to be exact but I feel that I am brutally honest with myself about how much I eat because I don't want to have any excuses for myself and I really want to do this the right way. But even if I was off my count by 300 calories, I would still have a 500 cal deficit every day so technically I should at least be losing weight not gaining. right? the constantly gaining is what is troubling me...

I mentioned the meat because after doing some research I think maybe the hormones in the meat could be causing me to gain weight since it has become more a part of my daily diet than it was say a year or a year and a half ago. I'm still going to significantly cut back on it for a week or two just to see if that makes any difference.

Thanks, i think i will try to eat more calories. I heard somewhere that your calorie consumption should be your weight x's 100. don't know if that's true though

A checkup by your primary care practitioner may be in order to check your thyroid or look for any other issues.  On the other hand, I feel you are not eating enough for your workouts.  I lost 80 lbs last year eating 1500-1600, only working out 4 times a week mostly, doing 2 cardio sessions and 2 weight sessions.  You are taller, younger and more muscular than me!  I am 5'5", 43 and went from 227 to 145.  What is your current weight?  Your foods look right on track as far as the types you are eating.  

i weigh between 165-170 right now and all through out college and last year i was between 145-150.  

ill defitnately make an effort to eat more  in the next couple of weeks and see if that helps. 

Congratulations on the 80lb weight loss! thats really amazing! how long did it take?


I started 1-2-10 and got to about 145 around Thanksgiving.  I still would like to lose about 10 lbs but the holidays kind of side tracked me and then my husband got diagnosed with cancer last week so if I can maintain right now, I will be happy.  Trying to use exercise instead of food for stress :)

I really hope you can figure out what is going on.  I'm sure it is very frustrating to be doing everything right and not see the expected results!

1400 sounds like far too little for your height / weight / level of exercise...

I would get my thyroid checked if I were you. Your diet sounds good, and you are certainly doing good quality exercise.  I myself am going thru something similar. Noticing I am starting to gain weight even tho my diet hasnt changed,,,and I work out every day. (I am a p/t fitness instructor) My mom has Hashimoto's.  I had a full barrage of thyroid bloodwork done today and should get my results in a week. Is there any hx of thyroid disease in your family??  How old are you?

This post interested me as I was also a D-I athlete. (10 years ago, though). But I remember after I graduated I gained weight and didn't even realize it until I tried to put on these cute black pants I loved and couldn't even get them on! UGH I STILL remember that--just shocked feeling. Anyhow, it's impossible to train at the level of college. For me, I played basketball and 2 hour intense practices with weight-lifting and of course all the walking that goes with being in college across campus--it's an insane amount of calories burned. I NEVER had to think about what I ate in college. It just wasn't ever an issue. But I gained weight quickly after leaving school and so I understand your frustration. Maybe it's the body just being confused, maybe it's eating more than you realize, especially when in training you need to eat so much. Anyhow, hang in there :)

I would like to add two comments.

1. Some people with a higher muscle mass due to the body building necessary to compete in sports or due to personal training require a higher calorie diet. You might be running your caloric intake too low and slowing down your metabolism because your body thinks you are in a famine. Add 200-300 calories a day and see if your weight goes down.

2. Are you looking at your ideal weight as your pre-sports weight? If so, you can't rid your body of all the muscle mass you built up nor would you want to. This would be the case if you are wearing the same size clothing as your pre-training days as you are now, despite being 20 lbs heavier.


I'm 24 and there hasn't been any history of thyroid problems in my family(that i know of anyway). But im going to get blood work done this coming week anyway to check.


Yeah going from being a D I athlete to just a "regular person" is very difficult because your whole world and focus has shifted from competition and practice to sitting in an office and mentally that's very difficult especially at first. and you can literally be eating  huge burritos and drop like 10 pounds in a month while being an athlete and then after graduation everything changes. And no one ever tells you how hard it is.


I've pretty much weighed the same since high school with the exception of this past year. In high school I weighed around 150-152 and I lost weight during college and so I weighed around 140 to 145 throughout most of college i think. It was only around 5-10 pounds but I lost that weight because I was learned a great deal more about nutrition. I pretty much can wear the same size clothes now that I did a year ago with some exceptions.

I don't want to rid my body of my muscles at all. I like being strong and fit and in terms of vanity I just like the way muscles look too. My ideal like dream weight would honestly be 135 to 140 but I would be sooo  so happy and satisfied to be 145 again.

I am curious to see if you have an update.  I have a similar issue.  I work out consistently and eat clean, but I wonder if I am not eating enough.  Curious to see if by increasing your calorie intake you began to lose weight. 

Original Post by sarahphotog:

I am curious to see if you have an update.  I have a similar issue.  I work out consistently and eat clean, but I wonder if I am not eating enough.  Curious to see if by increasing your calorie intake you began to lose weight. 

 Dear sarah it does. In about August i posted that i wasn't losing weight but was working out. The CC posters asked me

1. height, age , sex

2. types of exercise i wasdoing

3. how much call i was eating.

At the time i was eating 1400 calories but i was guessing my food etc and not logging acurately and i realised i was eating maybe 1200 cals if not less...............sooooi  was eating too littles (i exercised 5 days a week. 3 of which was boot camp for an hour which included weights  the other two was taebo for an hour and abs for 20 mins. I am 5'feet 6 and started at 194lbs.

i upped my calories to 1500 generally and on days i do alot of exercise i went to about 1600 the least

i followed what the posters said. I upped my calorie intake and i am happy to report that as of today i am 167.6lbs. So eating more DOES WORK........just research what you should be intaking and follow it

Thanks for replying!!  I am meeting with my old trainer today to go through my food intake.  She seemed to think that was my problem as well.  


1)  I am 5'4" and 148 pounds.  

2)   I spin, krank cycle, weight train and crossboot (combination of crossfit and bootcamp)

3)  I'm not sure the calories I am taking in, but  I am guessing too little.  

Breakfast:  3 egg whites with one yolk and two pieces of ezekiel bread with a small amount of natural peanut butter or almond butter.  Sometimes I will add 1/4 of sliced banana to the toast.  The ezekiel bread has 30 grams of carbs and very low sodium.  

Lunch: can vary between a protein shake to a salad with lots of veggies, no dressing and turkey or chicken.  Will add a piece of fruit for a carb. 

Dinner: Grilled chicken or salmon with grilled vegetable and rice

Dessert: I share an apple with my husband usually.  Maybe some nuts.  

Snacks in between if I have them, which I don't consistently and should.  Air popped popcorn with a little sea salt.  Celery and peanut butter.  Apple.  

I'm not going to lie, I don't always eat clean and I don't ever want to 100% of the time.  I believe in enjoying life and that includes food.  So once or twice a week I will have a starbucks coffee.  A tall non-fat caramel machiatto.  Sometimes we will go out to eat and I might indulge in bread and say pizza maybe once every two months.  If I get a bad snack, it is a single serving size and is definitely not every week.  I am a photographer and sometimes after a wedding I will get some fries and a root beer.  But again, this is not on a regular basis by any means.  The food I listed for the meals is what I typically eat.  

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I honestly read your question and thought, did I write this at some point and not remember? I'm having exactly the same problem. I'm 28, 5'6 and am usually around 136 or 137, very athletic all through highschool and college, and even now. I started at the beginning of the year working out 5- 6 days a week, pretty vigorously. I was taking in 1600 or so calories, but started gaining weight, and no not muscle, I can tell. It was fat- I'm already a pretty muscular person. So I dropped my calories, still gained, dropped some more- worked out a little less intensely, and nothing is helping. I eat clean, meals just like you do, and count my calories and am very honest. Ill have a few drinks on the weekends or some low fat ice cream, but I still count all of that. Oils, creamers, everything. The fact is, if I was even off by 300 I would still be in a deficit, like you were saying. I do kettle bell work outs, treadmill intervals, lift weights, cycle, and like to switch it up. I don't think I'm eating too little either because when I do have a "cheat" day which is still under 2000 for me, it looks like I just gained another lb. I am pretty stressed out with a number of things right now so that could be it. My thyroid is fine, adrenals are fine, So what gives? Last year I got down to 130 lbs, I wasn't eating much a day, probably 1000 calories, and working out maybe 3 days a week. So maybe I should go back to that? I'm 148 now, the scale just keeps going up and it's so frustrating. I don't know what else to do.

14 Replies