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Literal backfiring

Here’s a question from a user:

Sometimes it seems like a hard workout makes me gain weight. My question is: WTF?

Melanie, Beeminder’s resident fitness expert, has an answer:

Temporary weight gain for a day or two after a hard workout is common. Your body is storing glucose — quick energy — and glucose carries a lot of water. Why does your body do this? It’s responding to the workout by storing extra energy in the muscles, both for repair and to be more prepared for future hard work.

Glucose, energy, calories — it’s all the same thing and the more you store in your muscles the less you’ll store as fat.

Of course, a hard workout is one of many things that can cause your weight to fluctuate, seemingly randomly (or truly randomly). Which is why your yellow brick road isn’t just a line. In fact, as we explained in “The Magical Widening Yellow Brick Road”, your yellow brick road automatically widens to accommodate such fluctuations. (UPDATE 2014: For the Fat Cyclist weight loss competition we’re not doing auto-widening roads and may be phasing this out for all weight loss roads. We have something better in mind; stay tuned!)

So any temporary weight gain is of course no reason to hold back on your workouts.