December 8, 2011 8:10 PM   Subscribe

After stopping weightlifting, how much weight is it normal to lose?

I stopped (heavy) lifting several months ago on doctor's orders. When I first stopped lifting I weighed around maybe 61kg, or somewhere around 135-138lbs with body fat % going from 17%-18% at 5 foot 6.

Now after a stay in hospital, surgery and some recovery I'm sitting at 117lbs and it's kind of weird - I'm not getting visibly skeletal or anything and the weight loss has been gradual, starting about two weeks after I stopped exercising - but I haven't been this weight since I was in my teens. Even before I started lifting my regular weight was around 128lbs with a body fat of 23%-24%.

I'm eating according to appetite - enough to feel full. No enormous amounts, but not so little to justify losing weight. So... is this normal?
posted by zennish to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
If you haven't been doing anything active and have been in the hospital for a bit, then that's not totally abnormal. Though definitely on the high side, especially for your weight. If you were to start lifting again you might see an immediate 3-5lbs gain due to your muscles plumping up with glycogen.
posted by schroedinger at 8:13 PM on December 8, 2011

Not only are you losing muscle, you're not getting the insulin boost and appetite surges that are the normal products of heavy lifting. When I do a lot of heavy lifting I'm absolutely ravenous; slack off and the weight goes down, every single time.

Whatever your goals are, eating more protein couldn't hurt.
posted by aquafortis at 8:18 PM on December 8, 2011

Now after a stay in hospital, surgery and some recovery

Dude. You gotta tell us more. If you were in the hospital for some tropical disease, dehydration, or removal of a 10lb tumor this totally makes sense.

Gotta give us more.

But yeah...its not that you stopped weightlifting, its the fact that you had surgery and had a "stay" at the hospital.

If you want to start up again, I suggest you go slow and maybe get a doc in on the planning action.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:20 PM on December 8, 2011

Anecdotal: I lost a lot of weight when I had surgery, even though I was eating richer food and more of it. I think your body burns some of it in recovery. I cannot back this up with science. :) In my case it all came back within the year, and when I tried weightlifting again, the muscle came back just as quickly as it always does.
posted by thelastcamel at 8:45 PM on December 8, 2011

I know this doesn't really get at your question but this blog post is about a study that suggest that, "If you can't do anything else, static stretching for 40 minutes, 3 times a week could keep you from deterioration from a muscular strength, power and muscular endurance perspective."

So, if you can't lift, you might try a bunch of stretching just to maintain your strength until you can. Maybe it will even help with your weight.
posted by VTX at 6:52 AM on December 9, 2011

I work out fairly religiously and maintain a weight of 180-185 pounds. Three weeks after knee surgery, I weighed 160. I didn't feel or look bad -- the weight just disappeared!

It's normal, and will come back as soon as you start hitting the gym again.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:39 AM on December 9, 2011

Lovely - thanks, all. It was just kind of weird the scale kept dropping - like 'Thinner', only I hadn't insulted anyone with magic powers. If it drops any further I might just go and get a checkup, though.
posted by zennish at 4:01 PM on December 9, 2011

Another anecdote: I stopped lifting around five months ago due to a new job that leaves me little free time and isn't near a decent gym. Used to lift ~4x a week for about 15 years. I haven't gained or lost any weight, but my body composition has definitely changed, unfortunately.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 3:57 PM on December 12, 2011

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