“You’re putting on muscle”....?


This is a bit long so please bear with me. Someone, please explain what’s happening as I’m completely lost:
I’ve been keto for just over 2yrs and lost a total of 13-15kg (depending on the day). My weight has gone from 65kg to 50kg. It’s lowest was 47kg, but it seems to settle nicely at 50.5kg and I’m very much ok with that. I’ve been maintaining at/around this weight for about a year and a half
I have not done any exercise for the last 4+ years, so didn’t work out while Keto either.
I’m 36yr old female, 164cm and IF almost daily…anything from 16-22hrs…and I feel just fine.
Almost 3 weeks ago, I decided to start working out to “move my body a bit more”. I do 30min at home HIIT full body workouts and dance cardio (fasted), 5 days on/1 day off, which I enjoy. I went from feeling lazy/tired, little energy, high heart rate (which doc said was due to inactivity), etc. to feeling more energetic, sleeping well, mental clarity and just feeling so darn good overall. However, in this short time the scale has gone up daily! I’m now at 53.9kg and I’m starting to worry. The workouts were never for weight loss, but the weight gain is scaring me. I look more “pudgy” & my flat stomach is not so flat anymore. My husband says it’s because I’m “gaining muscle”…I just can’t buy into that, not in such a short time! Besides, I’ve hardly turned into some exercise pro…I’m lifting water bottles (for heavens sake), a 6kg ball & body weight! I’m making use of what’s available to me and keeping it “simple”. I do squats/lunges (can’t say I SEE a difference there, but thighs feels a tad bit more muscular & sore some days). I’m seeing SOME definition in shoulders & arms, but this has always been the easiest for me to tone/build/workout. My jeans are tighter. The scale is moving in a scary direction for me. My body is not improving in composition, as far as I can see. I still eat the same. Any explanations as to what is happening?! TIA

(Candy Lind) #2

Probably at least part of it is muscle gain. When I exercise, my appetite increases. Maybe just more “mindful” eating will take it back off. If the trend continues, it might be time to track for a while (have your carbs crept up? Too much protein?). Just don’t let the cortisol creep up! KCKO.


I’ll agree that much in muscle isn’t it, not unless your a genetic muscle building freak at least. but you’ve gone to a different extreme and you are giving yourself descent workouts. Have your muscles been sore? Half of muscle building and repair is pulling water into the muscle. It’s pretty likely your appetite and water consumption has gone up? I wouldn’t worry about it yet, but keep an eye on it. Also remember to not start restricting food (fuel) as you’ll need it for your workouts but tracking may be a good idea if your unsure. If you don’t have a method for that I"ll plug cronometer. Do you have a certain macro percentage or counts that you more or less try to hit now? Or eating intuitively?


Hi Candy. I am very much aware of increased appetite, as many people say their appetites increase with exercise, but that hasn’t been the case for me. Everything is still the same, food wise. I’m also trying not to stress about it and have cortisol be a problem. So, I’ll try my best to just KC…!! and KO.


I’m no muscle building freak, but I’ve been doing my best to push myself and have a decent workout. It’s quite addictive, actually. I used to be a gym freak so I was pretty disappointed to see how far I have regressed. The first week was hard, I was pretty sore, and I was huffing and puffing through the workouts, but I pushed through. I noticed the last 2 days that the workouts have become a little easier…time to push it up a notch I guess. Butt & thighs sore/heavy after squats/lunges but not painful (if that makes sense).
As for food, nothing has changed. I’m not hungrier nor am I restricting. I eat intuitively, IF almost daily eating only 1-2 meals per day. If I’m hungry, I do eat! I used to track everything in the beginning & weigh daily, but I found myself almost obesessing. I eased up on that and found that I was still doing well, weighing once in a while and seeing very minor changes on the scale…and indicator to me that I was still on track. And quite early on I cut back on the dietary fat, I realized that I didn’t need to eat ALLLLL the tasty fat and just listened to my body’s needs. Everything worked…till exercise! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
Thanks for your input. I’ll keep an eye on it. Let’s hope that muscle/water is what’s at play right now and will sort itself out.


If you are only 3 weeks into an exercise program, your body is likely going through metabolic changes, getting used to being active again. You may need to start tracking your macros to ensure that you aren’t eating too much. 3 weeks seems like a very quick time to put on an additional 3kg. That being said, are you taking body measurements? I’ve found that weighing myself is more frustrating than helpful. I’ve been at a plateau for the last 5 or 6 months, I’ve lost 1 pound…but my waist is getting smaller. Since I started keto 7 weeks ago, I’ve lost 1.5 inches on my waist. if you are intuitively eating, you may also be feeling more hungry than usual since your body is utilizing more energy than it’s used to.

(Candy Lind) #7

@Joy the measurement thing is a great idea, and I agree that this is likely a process you’re going through while acclimating to exercise. Keep us informed!


Hmmm…I may need to try a different approach. I’m reluctant since what I’ve been doing for the past 2yrs has worked well for me all this time & was pretty simple, but perhaps I need to consider a different approach…and maybe not worry about the scale too much for now.
I’m not hungrier or eating more. I know when I feel hungrier than usual, I’m aware of that. I try & “listen” carefully to my body. Thank you, I will continue to monitor.


Will do!
I remembered that I started taking a collagen powder the same time I started exercising. It shouldn’t have an effect on the scale/weight, but I’m now just wondering about that too…hmmmm! It started working almost immediately on my knee & my oh-so-dry skin. I’ll see what happens if I scale back there. As you said earlier, KCKO.

(Aimee Moisa) #10

Maybe you just need to hide the scale for a while. You’ve changed something in your life and your body is going to react, maybe don’t pay attention to the metrics and just pay attention to how you feel. If you exercised before you know how to do it to get results you want. You know the difference between injury pain and exercise soreness (I call them “bad hurt” and “good hurt”). So use all that knowledge and pay attention to your body’s progression during this process. I’m guessing any weight increase is both added muscle and water/lactic acid retention in the muscles, but just like with your weight loss process it’s a long journey.

I think the reason we say KCKO isn’t because we want to blindly adhere to the process and dismiss any problems we might be having, I think it’s because we have to keep reminding ourselves that all of these changes we make are for the long haul, not quick fixes that are meant to solve a problem and then we go back to what we were doing before.

So, KCKO. :slight_smile:

(karen) #11

Just as a guideline, the ‘natural muscle’ websites I looked at both said that unless you’re either genetically off the charts, using steroids or re-gaining muscle you recently lost, the most a woman can expect to gain in pure muscle is about 1 pound a month, a man 2 pounds. This is with extreme training and a person who’s relatively young, the figure given for average people starting a dedicated exercise routine is about half that.

So I’d agree with your guess that most of this gain isn’t muscle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of it’s water.


Aimee & Karen, thank you for the input.
I don’t know why I didn’t make the water retention connection…silly me!
Everything has been going so well on keto that I guess I thought I was “above all that” and these things wouldn’t affect me because…Keto!
And to top it all, my scale must be wonky! It’s been spitting out weird numbers at us since yesterday, as if it cannot decide on the numbers. Time to throw that thing out! (Not really, it needs a battery change).
Will ignore scale for a while. Even though I look puffier, I feel good after exercise. I’ll allow my body time to adjust, continue to listen to it, and keep an eye on things.
Thank you all!

(Gabe “No Dogma, Only Science Please!” ) #13

@Joy what happened with this? Any updates? I’m trying to put on muscle, and I’ve also put on several kilos in the past year.

(Bob M) #14

The problem is that if you were once much more muscular and you lose muscle, your body has a memory. You can gain muscle much more quickly than someone who is lifting for the first time. If you were once a “gym rat” and went “bad”, you can gain muscle faster than someone who is not a gym rat.

They only way to truly know what is going on is to get some type of body fat testing done, like DEXA.

Here are my DEXA scans over the course of about a year:

The scale only changed 2 pounds, but I gained 3.3 pounds of muscle and lost 5.4 pounds of fat in a year, almost a 10 pound swing, of which the scale wouldn’t budge (my scale weight commonly goes up or down more than 2 pounds in 1-2 days).


Hi Gabe
Six months later & I still work out…because I love how it makes me feel and I’m definitely feeling stronger.
I don’t think I look particularly more “muscular”, or slimmer for that matter, but running/moving around is definitely easier. I’m more energetic and don’t sigh anymore at the thought at a 2-3hr walk in the woods. I enjoy it! Sometimes we do a shorter run too. Others have commented on me looking stronger, sooo…who knows?!
Continue to workout & lift to build muscle. Keep us posted.


The problem is that if you were once much more muscular and you lose muscle, your body has a memory. You can gain muscle much more quickly than someone who is lifting for the first time. If you were once a “gym rat” and went “bad”, you can gain muscle faster than someone who is not a gym rat.

Makes sense!!! I reckon I did lose a lot of muscle. And I was once-upon-a-time that “gym rat”.
Even though I’ve gained some weight, it’s not at all noticeable to others.
DEXA scan would be the way to go. One day! :+1:t4: