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How to Avoid Weight Gain After Quitting the Gym

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No matter how good your physique is and how motivated you are to rack up the hours in the gym, sometimes you just have to take a break from what you love.

Whether it’s because you’ve got an injury, illness or you just can’t work it around your family commitments, occasionally you just have to quit the gym for a while.

And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. That’s life.

But what about those gains? How do you stop your muscles from deflating, your run time from decreasing and your abs from disappearing?

Can you even put the brakes on weight gain if you aren’t crushing the gym?

In this article we take a look…

You’ve Stopped Going to the gym

At this point, the actual reason why you’ve quit the gym is irrelevant. Whether it was because of a loss of motivation, financial issues or just that you couldn’t find time, it doesn’t matter.

But the bottom line is that by quitting the gym your body will change. You’ll begin to lose strength and muscle, your stamina will slowly taper off and if you’re not careful you’ll soon start to develop that most hated of side effects… weight gain.

It’s a process called reversibility and it’s every fitness lovers’ worst nightmare. As soon as you stop training your hard-earned gains begin to disappear.

And whilst it’s sort of inevitable that eventually you’ll lose the fitness you worked hard for, there are a number of things you can do to stay in good shape.

We’re not here to discuss the problem, we’re here to look at solutions.

Here are the best ways to avoid weight gain after you quit the gym…

Young woman and athletic man after fitness workout with towel and water bottle

#1. Count Calories

Your gym sessions burned calories. It didn’t matter whether you were crushing the weights or smashing the cardio, every time you moved you triggered the uptake of fuel into your metabolic furnace.

But now that you’re not hitting the gym, there’s a big proportion of your daily energy expenditure gone.

Does that mean you’ll gain weight? No, not necessarily.

You need to track your calories. The only time you will gain weight is if you eat more than you burn off each day – a process called calorie surplus or positive energy balance. 

So all you need to do is factor in that you’re less active, reevaluate your calorie intake and that will reduce the chances of weight gain.

Using calorie counters like the one below are a great way to work out your exact calorie requirements because they’re built on tried and tested, evidence-based research.

You need to input your current body height, weight, gender and your age. You also need to truthful about exactly how active you are as this will drastically change the amount of calories you can eat without storing fat.

The chances are that if you’re reading this article you’ll fall into the ‘little or no exercise’ category – but change to whatever suits your current lifestyle best.

It’ll probably be much lower than you’re used to – but if you aren’t active you don’t get to eat as much before you hit your upper calorie limit. It’s that simple.

#2. Don’t Actively Try to Cut

Hopefully at this point you’ve used the calorie counter. If you have, you’ve got what you call your maintenance allowance – this is the amount of calories you can eat to stay at the same body weight.

As we’ve already mentioned, if you eat more than you need each day you’ll fall into a calorie surplus and you’ll start to gain weight.

But if you eat less than you need each day you’ll achieve a calorie deficit and you’ll lose weight.

Great, right? Well not really. Bare with us while we explain.

If you aren’t actively challenging your muscles through strength training and you go on a weight cut you’ll not only shred fat but lose lean tissue too – you’ll be waving goodbye to your gains.

But lean tissue is an important part of metabolic rate. The less muscle you have, the lower your metabolism is. So if you cut too aggressively you’ll lose muscle, your metabolic rate will plummet and you’ll then either have to eat a mega small calorie intake or you’ll gain weight.

Eat your maintenance calories and you’ll find a happy medium between offsetting muscle loss but not gaining weight.

A plate with a very small portion of food on it. A person has a fork in their hand and a tape measure wrapped around their wrist

#3. Get More Active

You’ll have noticed one thing with our calorie counter – it didn’t ask how many times per week you hit the gym; it asks how many times a week you exercise. That’s because it doesn’t matter whether your fitness is based in the gym, at home or on the sports field – all activity boosts your daily energy expenditure.

And the bonus of being more active and burning more calories is that you can eat just that little bit more and still stay within your calorie threshold.

Walking, jump rope, and body weight training are all great calories burners. And even household chores such as cleaning, washing up and gardening burn calories too.

Every little helps when you’ve quit the gym. And whilst gardening and such might not burn a ton of calories each minute, they soon add up.

#4. Home Workouts for Strength

So let’s say that you quit the gym but are still willing to workout from home. That’s great, and it gives you a lot more flexibility to keep your weight healthy.

When you stop going to the gym you lose muscle strength. And with that you’ll probably lose muscle, no matter how hard you try.

But adding in body weight or small portable equipment training can help to keep your physique in top shape and offset muscle loss. Remember – more muscle means a higher metabolism.

Incorporating regular sit-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges and pull-ups into a short, explosive circuit will help you cling on to your muscle mass whilst giving you a much needed calorie-burning kick too.

A young woman does half press-ups on a matt in her front room

#5. Hit Your Protein Needs

The last part of the muscle-sparing jigsaw puzzle is to keep your protein intake fairly high. This way you’ll maintain an elevated level of muscle protein synthesis and your body will reduce how much lean tissue it chooses to eat away at.

Current recommendations suggest that during times of inactivity or even in a calorie deficit, 1 gram per pound of body weight is enough to give your lean tissue everything it needs to protect itself.

And eating more protein also helps you burn extra fat too, with multiple studies showing that those who consume more protein have healthier body compositions.

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