Couch to 5K

Let's talk about weight

I keep seeing posts from folk 2, 3 or 4 weeks in to the program that are all upset because they haven't lost weight. Well, they shouldn't be. For a couple of good reasons it's entirely possible to gain weight when you begin exercising…

For a start you’re likely to be hungrier, all this leaping about brings on an appetite, so you’re probably inclined to want to eat more, not less.

Your muscles, not having been used to said leaping about, are growing. They do this in an effort to ensure you can leap about in a similar fashion next time. Only next time you ask them to leap about even more, so they get even bigger. So the cycle continues… Bigger muscles mean more weight, they’re quite heavy things muscles. And, they need food (protein mostly) to do all this getting bigger.

Honestly, don’t worry about it. In all likelihood you’re losing fat and gaining muscle, exactly what you want to be happening. Even if you’re not losing fat, you’re still heading in right direction.

Get to week 9, 10 or even 11. Once you’re comfortable running half an hour 3 times a week regularly then it’s time to start setting weight goals. And that’s another story…

13 Replies

Agree totally there Andy. Muscle def weighs more, I weigh within a pound or two up or down around the same weight every week, but my clothes are loser and people are are always asking me if I'm still losing it. ( I lost 36-38 pounds last year with giving up sugar in all forms and using the Wii Fit). This was before I started running, which I did to maintain the loss. (was fed up with the Wii Fit by then!)



Excellent helpful post Andy. The calories in a run are also trivial compared to a night in bed. I found running helped me focus on my weight because I wanted to way less to run better. Well sort of. I can sum it up as "No, I won't go to the pub tonight because if I do then my run tomorrow won't be as much fun as it could be - and I'd really like to get an extra .5k into my run tomorrow". The thought of displacing alcohol with exercise was unthinkable 15 months ago. Running (and cycling) has changed my priorities in life.


I agree!

You lose inches not weight to begin with...

Great post - just difficult when your original motivation to get off your arse is to lose weight, and in the beginning the opposite happens.

Oh the joys of our society.


This topic has come up just this week on another forum I use.

Some members said that they were calorie-counting (but not cutting back more than medically advised) plus exercising, in order to create a calorie deficit that should result in 1-2 lbs loss a week. And yet frustratingly they were gaining weight. They could see that muscle weighs more than fat, but the query was, where were the calories coming from to create that muscle if they were actually creating an energy deficit every day?

The answer given by a personal trainer made sense to me - their muscles were making more mitochondria to store energy, since the body now needed this to run. The muscles need water both for the process that accesses the energy when you run, and for cooling. The muscles also need more blood volume so that they can exchange more oxygen as part of the process of releasing energy, and can get rid of lactic acid. So overall there is an increase in fluids - but you could call this 'good' water retention if you like (not the uncomfortable sort us girls complain about ;)

At some point the body will have made sufficient gains in muscle mass and quality to run efficiently, and then there will be no further increases in water retention. At this point if you continue controlling your calorie intake then your weight will definitely fall, firstly because you are creating a calorie deficit so that the body needs to burn fat stores, and secondly because the body needs more calories to keep muscle ticking over even when resting, so your calorie needs have increased whether or not you are running that day.

This made sense to me, based on the fact I peaked at O level biology ;)

I'm in Week 6 now and I am losing weight on a sensible calorie-controlled diet. Although I must be 'burning more' the weight loss has slackened off since Week 3 but I know it would be counterproductive to cut calories further. Learning about the changes going on in my muscles has helped me see how important it is to eat really well - enough protein, enough carbs, good fats, vitamin and mineral-rich foods and plenty of fibre. Otherwise how can the body do all that reconstruction work? The fact I have dropped two jeans sizes keeps me motivated :)


I've just posted this on someone elses - it might be a good idea to take measurements - I weigh the same but my clothes are fitting so much better - it can be so demotivating not to see the scales move EVEN if you know why but to see your measurements go down would be some solace.


The last time I did the C25K, I did lose about half a stone after 5 weeks but if you were judging purely by the fit of my clothes you would've thought I'd lost a lot more than that. So reading this again makes me want to buy a tape measure and see the changes in that way hehe

However this seems like a bizaare thing to say but although I'm happy about the muscle growth with my runs I'm worried that eventually the muscles will make me look 'thicker' if that makes sense. I don't want my legs to look beastly after I've finished this! Please someone tell me that this won't happen?!

Other than that I'll keep on running! :)


Loved the ---- legs looking beastly bit. Paula radcliff doesnt have beastly legs, can you think of any joggers/runners who have beastly legs? No, it evens out and your legs wont get so big you cant get in the front door(beastly, still laughing in a good way about this, i had similar thoughts at one point). Patience for running and patience for weight loss is all thats needed but it is hard . . . . . . . .


I think doing stretches can help prevent legs from looking too bulky, and making sure that your core is strong so that your posture is good.


Thanks for this, very helpful as I was (still am) one of the disappointed ones, running, eating (semi) healthily and not shifting the weight. I am on the last run of week 8 tomorrow and have lost 5 lb in total ( stayed the same the last 3 weeks). It is soul destroying for the likes of me who really started this to lose the weight I had put on over the last few years. BUT it does make sense that muscle mass would weigh more than fat. Why do I still wobble though?????!!!!! Ha ha! Seriously though I am going to be patient now, enjoy the excercise and carry on as I am, cheers for the wise words :)


I'm putting in weight and inches...hmm. I was bang in normal bmi to start with so don't know if that makes a difference. Putting it down to a combo of developing muscles and eating more due to increased calorie burn.


Thanks for posting this. I am desperate to loose weight and starve off diabetes.... but my weight has gone up a 1lb and i am only just going on to week 2. Yes its a bit demotivating but I am hoping my insulin levels will be better in the future.


This is a really helpful blog, Andy - I too started C25K mainly to lose weight, but have put on 4lb since beginning (I've just atarted week 7). I can't even say my clothes fit better yet, BUT I feel fantastic, I'm clearly stronger and think I look more streamlined and less wobbly too! Your comment about waiting till running 30 mins 3 times a week is a real incentive to keep going - I've signed up for a 10K and then a half-marathon later in the year to keep my motivation up.

Thanks so much for putting it all into perspective!


Hi I just read this after Andy put a comment on a blog post of mine - really useful and interesting thanks! Im going to get my tape measure out!


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