Why Do I Look Fat After Working Out? Find Out Here
If you’re like many gym-goers, you may find yourself asking the same question after every workout: why do I look fatter?
You’ve sweated buckets and pushed yourself to your physical limits, so why does it seem like all that hard work is having the opposite of its intended effect?
Before you get too discouraged and give up on exercise altogether, know this – there are very good explanations for this happening.
Keep reading to learn why it might seem like hitting the gym has made you bulkier and what tips can help make sure that time in the weight room pays off with results.
Why Do I Look Fatter After Working Out?
The first reason that you may look fatter after working out is water retention. As your body continues to work hard during exercise, it pumps more fluid and electrolytes into the muscle tissue to help with recovery and healing. This can cause some localised swelling in certain areas of your body, making them appear larger than usual. In addition, physical activity can cause inflammation in the body. This is a normal and healthy response to exercise that helps your muscles repair and recover quickly, but it can also create temporary swelling or puffiness in the area where you exercised. During exercise, your body increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles by dilating (widening) its blood vessels, which can make you look more swollen or puffy. Lastly, intense physical activity can cause microscopic tears in the muscle fibres. As they heal, these tiny tears cause an increase in plasma and cortisol (a stress hormone) in the body. This can lead to an increase in oxygen availability and better metabolism, but it can also cause swelling that makes you look temporarily fatter. Other Contributing Factors include Inconsistent training, lack of intensity, inadequate rest and recovery, and high levels of stress can all contribute to why you think you look fatter after working out. In addition, if you’re not eating enough calories or if your glycogen stores are low, your body can begin to store excess fat in order to have an energy source during exercise.
Let’s now take a look in more detail at some of the key factors that can lead to post-workout bulkiness.
This is probably most responsible for why you look fatter after working out. This is because during a workout, your muscles become engorged with blood, fluid and other substances in order to keep them performing optimally.
As this happens, the muscle tissue can expand slightly and cause temporary swelling that makes you appear larger than usual.
In addition, fluids can accumulate in the space between your skin and muscle tissue. This is known as subcutaneous water retention, which can further make you look temporarily bulkier.
Weight lifters and bodybuilders often ‘pump up’ before competitions in order to look more impressive on stage.
The thing with the pump is that it doesn’t last. Once you stop exercising and finish the workout, your body will naturally start to return to its normal size.
If you’re worried about how you look post-workout, try taking a cold shower afterwards or using a foam roller to help reduce swelling.
Maybe this could be the reason you think you “look fatter” after working out.
Increased plasma and cortisol
Exercise causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibres, which then need to heal. As this process takes place, there’s an increase in plasma and cortisol (a stress hormone) in the body.
Plasma helps to increase oxygen availability to the muscles and helps with metabolism, while cortisol helps to regulate inflammation.
Both of these can lead to temporary puffiness or swelling in certain areas of your body that make you look bulkier than usual.
This effect is particularly noticeable after strength training sessions, where you lift heavy weights or do a lot of reps, as this causes the most microscopic tears in the muscle fibres.
However, it’s important to remember that this puffiness is only temporary and will reduce once your muscles have had a chance to recover, but it too can contribute to post-workout bulkiness.
Water retention is another potential contributor to why you may look fatter after working out. This is because when you exercise, your body needs more water for the muscles to function which can cause excess fluid build-up in certain areas.
When you burn calories and sweat, your body can also become dehydrated. This dehydration can cause the body to hang onto water to maintain normal fluid balance and this too can lead to puffiness in certain areas of the body.
Therefore, it’s important to make sure you’re drinking enough water before, during and after physical activity so as not to become dehydrated.
Make use of electrolyte drinks or even add a pinch of salt in plain water to help replenish the fluids in your body and reduce puffiness.
Fluid accumulation can further make you look bulkier than usual and, again, this effect should reduce once your body gets used to your workout routine and you’re able to better regulate your hydration levels.
When working out you must stay hydrated and take regular water breaks to ensure that your body is getting all the fluids it needs, as failure to do so can cause dehydration which can be very dangerous and cause your body to retain more water than it needs.
Exercise causes inflammation in the body, which is why you can feel soreness or stiffness after a workout. This inflammation can cause puffiness or bulkiness in certain areas of your body and make you look fatter than usual.
To reduce post-workout puffiness or bulkiness, try to keep your workouts well-balanced. Try not to push your body too far to the point where you’re causing too much inflammation and soreness.
It’s important to remember that exercise is supposed to be enjoyable, so keep it fun and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) can also contribute to why you look bulkier after a workout as this is caused by inflammation in the muscles.
It’s important to rest and recover between workouts as this helps your body heal from any micro tears or DOMS. Lack of adequate rest and recovery between workouts can lead to further inflammation and bulkiness.
Blood vessels and oxygen
When you exercise, your body needs more oxygen to get to the muscles. This is because your muscles need oxygen for energy and metabolism.
To help with this, your blood vessels become wider to allow more oxygen-rich blood to flow through them and reach the active muscles.
This increased circulation can cause puffiness or swelling in certain areas of your body, making you look bulkier than usual. This effect is only temporary and should reduce once your blood vessels go back to their normal size.
This kind of shows that you are doing something right, as this increased circulation means that your muscles are getting the oxygen they need to recover and grow.
Strength training sessions are especially important for this as they cause micro tears in the muscle fibres which then need to be repaired by oxygen-rich blood.
This repair process is what causes our muscles to increase in size and strength, so it’s important to do enough strength training if your goal is to build muscle.
Related: Do I need progressive overload during a cut?
When you lift weights or do a lot of reps during a workout, it causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibres. Your body needs time to repair these tears, which can cause inflammation and puffiness in certain areas of your body.
It’s important to remember that this process is completely normal and necessary for muscle growth. However, it too can contribute to post-workout bulkiness.
This is the only way you can build muscle and strength because your body is forced to repair the damaged muscle fibres, making them bigger and stronger than before.
During this period it’s vital that you eat and drink enough so that your body has the right nutrients to repair the damaged muscle fibres and reduce inflammation.
This process can take up to 48 hours with the correct amount of rest, so it’s important to give your muscles enough time to recover in between workouts.
It’s crucial to make sure you’re taking a few days of rest in between workouts. This allows your body time to repair any micro tears and reduce inflammation.
Your metabolism plays a big role in why you look fatter after a workout.
The role of your metabolism is to convert the food you eat into energy for your body. When you exercise, your metabolism speeds up in order to give your muscles more energy to perform.
This process can cause a temporary increase in fat storage as your body works hard to provide more energy for your muscles. This is why it’s important to eat the right kind of foods that will give you the best possible energy source for your body.
Not having the right kind of food will not only slow you down during your workout, but it can also lead to an increase in fat storage.
It’s important to make sure you’re eating the right kind of foods before and after a workout as this will help give you more energy while also helping to reduce fat storage.
It’s also important to remember that you need to replenish your glycogen stores after a workout in order to maintain an optimal metabolic rate.
Glycogen is stored in the muscles and is used during exercise, so it’s important to make sure you have enough of it available if you want to keep your metabolism running effectively.
Glycogen stores are the body’s main source of energy during exercise. Without enough glycogen, your body won’t be able to generate the energy it needs to perform optimally.
When you exercise, your body will use up its glycogen stores and if these are depleted, your body will start to convert fat and protein into energy.
This can lead to an increase in fat storage, which is why it’s important to make sure you have enough glycogen stores available before and after a workout.
Eating the right kind of carbohydrates will help replenish your glycogen stores, so it’s important to make sure you’re eating the right kind of foods before and after a workout.
If you’re not training consistently, it’s unlikely that your body is going to respond the way you want it to. This means that you may experience temporary gains in size due to water retention or other causes.
It’s important to remember that muscle growth takes time and consistency is key. If you’re not training regularly, it’s unlikely that your body will be able to adapt and grow, leading to a temporary increase in size.
It’s important to make sure you’re training consistently if you want to see the best results.
Easier said than done, I know how demanding everyday life can be, however, it’s not only important to maintain consistency with your workouts, but also with the intensity and rest.
Making sure you are able to train between three to five days a week with adequate rest and recovery in between is the key.
It’s important to remember that intensity is key if you want to maximize your results. Not only does it help encourage muscle growth, but it also helps burn more calories and fat.
If you’re not pushing yourself with your workouts, then you may be seeing temporary increases in size that are due to water retention or other causes.
It’s important to make sure you’re pushing yourself with each workout and making sure your muscles are being worked hard in order to maximize your results.
If you’re not fully committing to your workouts, the results won’t be worth it. Make sure that every session is packed with intensity and dedication for visible progress.
Related: It is normal to be weaker some weeks?
Calories and Body Fat
It’s important to make sure you’re eating enough calories in order to fuel your workouts. If you’re not taking in enough calories, then your body won’t be able to perform the way it needs to.
This can lead to an increase in fat storage as your body will be looking for other sources of energy. It’s important to make sure you’re taking in enough calories in order to fuel your workouts and help prevent fat storage.
It’s also important to remember that if you’re taking in more calories than you’re burning off, then this can also lead to an increase in body fat.
It can be a tricky process, due to the fact that if you are eating the wrong types of foods, then you could still get an increase in fat storage, even if your calories are under control.
It’s important to make sure you’re eating the right macronutrients and eating enough calories in order to maximize your results.
If you have excess body fat, then it’s important to make sure you’re in a calorie deficit and eating the right kinds of foods. This will help you lose fat while still maintaining your muscle mass.
Another possible reason why you look fatter after a workout is that you’re constantly stressed due to your daily life.
Stress can lead to an increase in cortisol, which can lead to a decrease in muscle growth and an increase in fat storage. It’s important to make sure you’re managing your stress levels if you want to achieve the best results from your workouts.
Try to relieve stress through activities such as yoga or meditation. This will help you reduce your cortisol levels and increase your chances of seeing the results you want from your workouts.
Worrying about bills, family, or other issues can be damaging to your overall health. Make sure you take the time to relax and find ways to reduce stress in order to maximize your results.
Is fitness new to you?
If fitness is new to you, it’s important to remember that there will be a learning curve. It can take some time for your body to adjust to the demands of regular exercise and it can take up to 12 weeks before you start seeing visible results.
It’s important to be patient and trust the process. Results won’t come overnight and it’s important to understand that gaining muscle and losing fat takes time.
It’s also important to make sure you’re following a program that includes proper rest and recovery as well as eating the right macronutrients in order to maximize your results.
Once you settle into a consistent fitness routine and your body has become accustomed to the new stimulus, you should start seeing the results you want.
Related: What do you do on a bad day at the gym?
It’s important to understand why you may be looking fatter after working out. It could be due to water retention, inadequate caloric intake, poor intensity and consistency in your workouts, stress, or other factors.
It’s important to make sure you’re following a program that is tailored to your individual needs and taking the necessary steps to ensure that you’re eating the right macronutrients, getting enough rest, and managing your stress levels.
By following these tips, you should start seeing the results that you want in no time. With patience and dedication, anything is possible!
Have you ever felt fatter after working out? Let us know in the comments below.