Feeling Fat after Working Out? - Know Why!

Written by: Shruthi Chacko – M Sc (Psychology)

Last updated date : March 31, 2022
Table of Contents

Feeling Fat after Working Out? – Know Why!
  1. Causes for Feeling Fat or Bloated after Working Out

You didn’t head out to the gym to feel fatter than before. Do you experience feeling fat after working out? It can be quite frustrating when you feel like you are looking fat and maybe even gaining a few pounds even though you have been working out. But, have you ever thought this can be the effect of doing some intense workouts? It does not actually mean that you have gained those pounds. It could be because of water retention, soreness of the joints or even sometimes mild inflammation. So don’t worry what the scale tells you, you have not gained weight. You are on the right track to having a healthy body. Let’s see why you may be feeling like this and let us look at some factors that contribute to it.

Chapter 1:

Causes for Feeling Fat or Bloated after Working Out

First of all, don’t stress yourself out if you are feeling fat after working out. Try to educate yourself about what our muscles go through while working out. Also, if you notice yourself drinking quite a lot of water before, after or during a workout. Maybe it is better to watch out for that. It can cause temporary weight gain because of water retention. Hence, be mindful of your practices while working out.

Post Workout Weight Gain

Have you ever heard of “pump” in a muscle? When we often do exercises such as pushups, pullups or heavy lifting. This phenomenon may happen. Doing them might energise and give you a confidence boost. It can result in having a pump in the muscle. Your muscle and joints may feel tight, sore and full. This happens often due to the plasma that is trapped in the muscle. This is followed by a muscle contraction. Hence, when you experience this, you may start feeling more muscular than before you started doing the workout. You start to feel your body weighing you down. In fact, it shows that your muscles are getting rid of the excess fat and is working hard.


Do you drink a lot of water during the workouts? Do you wonder what causes that bloated fat feeling after working out? This can be commonly seen with a lot of people who work out. Did you know drinking a lot of water during or end of the workout can leave you bloated? It is true, you can feel full and bloated. Further, you start feeling fat and bloated. So the best thing you can do is to take very few sips of water while working out. When you drink little water, your body can hold on to the fluid in your body to fight off the dehydration. After 20 minds to 30 minutes of working out, you can drink water as much as you want.

Hence, it is important to always keep in mind that our body needs time to settle down and continue to continue functioning. Always try to listen to your body. It is always showing you signs.

Muscle Tissues while Working out

Did you know intense workouts can result in microtears in your muscle tissue? I know it sounds scary, but you need not worry too much about it. This is part of your strength-building process. Your body senses this process and sends extra fluid for the repair process. Hence, this extra fluid might make you start feeling fat. In fact, you might even notice an increase in your weight on the scale. Therefore, in reality, you have not put on weight, it is just the extra fluid that makes you feel that way.

Sleep Schedule is Important

Sleep is often left neglected by most of us. Especially, when you work out your body needs to sleep out the tiredness. Does the body need to take a good rest to pump back energy in the morning? Of course it needs to. When there is a lack of sleep, the body acts differently. The first thing you can notice is that you wake you feeling tired. Now, that’s a horrible feeling. Haven’t we all been there? As the body has not gotten enough sleep, hormones can make you have food cravings which can be quite intense. Lack of sleep also drains your energy and you tend to feel lethargic and tired by the end of the day or even the middle of the day. Lack of sleep can even increase your weight. Hence, this can further contribute to feeling fat after working out.

Reduce Stress

It is true that working out can decrease stress. But, if you have a full-time job, need to take care of household chores, take that painting class, do volunteering and squeeze in the workout, this can make you very stressed out. Sometimes, it gets all too much. We try to multitask several things but we again go back to being stressed. So be kind to your body and try to listen to your body. Don’t overburden yourself. Have you heard you heard of adrenaline and cortisol? Basically, when we feel stressed, our body produces these two of these hormones. Adrenaline is the fight or flight hormone and it can suppress hunger. But, soon cortisol takes the lead role.

Cortisol gives a signal to the body to replenish the food sources. This is what makes us stress eat. One starts eating mindlessly. In fact, you may actually not even be hungry. But, as you are under stress you might indulge in emotional eating. Hence, now you know why you feel like eating crackers or even your favourite tub of ice cream when you feel under stress.

Have a Balanced Diet while Working out

First of all, fad diets or starving to go thin is not a sustainable way to have a healthy body. Your muscles need some amount of protein to recover and strengthen. Ever wonder what causes that bloated fat feeling after working out? Your diet along with other things can make you bloated. The key to sustainable weight loss is the balanced intake of fibre, protein etc. Your body needs nutrition to function. This does not mean you eat an excess of all good fat, protein, fibre etc. That can also be bad for your body. Especially, when you are working out it is necessary to have an adequate intake of nutrients. This does not mean you have an unbalanced diet when you are not working out.

Always try to maintain balance. Additionally, weight loss cannot be achieved like a crash course. If you try and you might be successful, but you will easily gain the weight that you quickly lost. Hence, it is always better to take it one step at a time. I have a question for you, instead of losing 15 kilos in 3 months. Don’t you think it’s more sustainable to achieve it in 6 months rather than 3 months?

Have Rest days

Are you someone who thinks that you can only lose weight if you rigorously work out every single day? That is not true at all. Resting is as important as working out. We need to give our muscles the time to recover so that they can continue to function well. If our bodies are constantly working out, when will they ever get to rest? Our bodies become like cars without fuel. Hence, remember to live a balanced life you need to have a mix of your intense workouts, long runs and yoga or even taking a walk. It is okay to not work out on some days. There are days when all you want to do is snuggle inside your blanket and watch your favourite movie. Those days of resting are as needed as the days you sweat out all the calories.

At Espychonline there are a series of self-help courses like “Body Image Concerns” that can give you some understanding of your body image concerns and learn ways healthy ways to cope up with them. Please visit the Courses page to find more about the self help course. You may also be interested to read up a bit more on ”How to Stop Feeling Fat and Bloated?” to understand more about this topic.