You Might Actually Weigh More After Working Out. Here's Why

You've been slaying your workouts like the warrior you always wanted to be — going all out on the treadmill, lifting heavier than you ever dared to before, or maybe even experimenting with a type of exercise that's a big change from your usual routine. But when you peel off your sweaty clothes and step on the scale, eager to see the results of all of those calories you've burned, you get a startling and unpleasant surprise: you weigh more now than you did before you went beast mode. Wait, what? This injustice is enough to make you want to throw in the gym towel and retreat back to your comfy couch.

In fact, there's a scientific explanation for why you might weigh more immediately after a workout — and the good news is, it's most likely temporary. "A person's scale mass is a combination of muscle, fat, bone, the brain and neural tract, connective tissue, blood, lymph, intestinal gas, urine, and the air that we carry in our lungs. Immediately after a workout routine, the percentage of mass in each of these categories can shift as much as 15 percent," clinical exercise physiologist Jeffrey A. Dolgan explained to Shape

Sore muscles can increase your weight

You know how your muscles just feel heavier when they're sore? Well, they may actually be heavier due to something called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, in which your muscles get damaged during weight training, leading to inflammation that registers on the scale as weight gain (per VeryWellFit). This swelling (and the extra pounds that come with it) can last for a few days, and it's actually your body trying to protect and defend the sore tissue so that you can heal faster (via SparkPeople).

But don't worry — once the pain starts to subside, you should see the few extra pounds you put on disappear, and then some. "As your muscles become more accustomed to the exercise and more efficient, however, they begin to need less glycogen to maintain the same level of energy output," The Cleveland Clinic's doctor of physical therapy Gary Calabrese explained. "Thus, your water retention becomes less, so your weight will start to go down."

If that hasn't happened in a few days — and if the pounds you're attributing to sore muscles is more than a handful — you might want to take a close look at your calorie intake. You might be eating more than you are burning off. "[W]hen you burn more calories, your body naturally wants to compensate by eating more calories to make up for what you're burning," Torey Armul, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, explained to Prevention.