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Nine Eating Habits That Can Undermine a
Body Building Routine
By Jean Lam

Maybe you train harder than anyone else at your gym-but you're still not seeing the results you want to achieve. If this is the case, the problem may not be your body building workout. Bad eating habits can undermine even the most rigorous routine. Here are nine eating habits that may be keeping you from losing weight and building muscle.

Eating before bed. If you're looking to lose weight, it's not a good idea to eat right before you go to bed-especially if you're eating complex carbohydrates. When you sleep you're not burning many calories, and your body is more likely to process the foods you've just eaten into fat.

If you're going to eat at night, the best foods to eat are lean proteins and vegetables. These foods make you feel full without all the calories of carbs. If you eat a lot of these at dinner, you're less likely to feel hungry right before you go to bed.

Eating too many highly processed carbohydrates. Highly processed carbohydrates include breads, breakfast cereals, chips, candies, fruit juices, and other foods that contain high levels of sugar. These foods pack a caloric punch, and their sugars are stored as fats if you don't burn them off right away.

That said, it's rarely a good idea to lose the carbohydrates altogether. If your body thinks you're not getting enough carbs, it could respond by lowering your metabolism. It's best to eat carbs for breakfast, directly before or directly after a workout. When you need their energy most, your body is less likely to turn their sugars into fat.

Forgetting about the veggies. Some body builders fall back on protein bars, shakes, nutritional supplements, and other expensive designer foods, and forget about the vegetables. You may love or hate leafy greens, asparagus and broccoli, but you need them for any healthy diet. Vegetables are full of vitamins and fiber, and they're tougher to digest than yogurts, protein shakes, and bars. The tougher the food is to digest, the more calories you burn eating it.

Skipping breakfast. If you're going to overeat, the best time to do it is the morning-that way, you have all day to burn off those calories. Skipping breakfast makes you hungrier throughout the day, and more likely to overeat later-especially right before bed, which is the worst time to eat. Nutritionists also say that those who skip breakfast have lower metabolism, as a whole, than those who eat in the morning.

Letting yourself get too hungry. It's never a good idea to let yourself get really hungry before your next meal. Time your meals so that you eat before you get too hungry. This simple change will keep you from eating more than you need to at every meal.

Letting yourself get too full. Do you normally eat until you're full, instead of stopping when you're simply not hungry anymore? If you're looking to build muscle and lose fat, don't eat until you feel like you're ready to burst. Instead, stop when you feel satisfied. Bear in mind that it takes your stomach about fifteen minutes to communicate to your body that it's full, so take your time with your meals.

Not eating frequently enough. The way we normally eat-three large meals a day-isn't the most efficient schedule. Our bodies digest food most efficiently when we eat numerous small meals throughout the day instead of a few larger ones. We get more out of each meal, we store less fat, and our metabolism kicks into high gear. Most trainers recommend that body builders eat about every three hours throughout the day, and a total of six times per day rather than three.

Failing to prepare. Even if you plan your diet meticulously, life can easily keep you from sticking to it. If you don't have time to cook and eat a healthy breakfast in the morning, get stuck working through lunch again, or get home too tired to cook, it's easy to see your plan for a healthy diet disintegrate in favor of quick, unhealthy eating.

When you're planning your diet, be sure to keep your day-to-day routine in mind-and design solutions for problems that might keep you from sticking to it. Do you consistently get up too late to make breakfast? Cut up the ham and veggies for your omelet at night, and leave them in the fridge. Do you never get time during the workday for a real lunch? Make sure you have plenty of protein bars on hand to get you through a busy day. Don't have time to make up a separate lunch? Then always make extra when you cook dinner, so you'll have leftovers to take to work tomorrow.

Thinking "bulking up" means eating everything in sight. During the bulk-up phase, it's common for body builders to think they have to eat huge quantities of food-pretty much anything will do-in order to build up all that muscle.

In truth, this is only a good idea if you're training to be a sumo wrestler. If the foods you're eating aren't high-quality foods, you could overwhelm your digestive system and gain an excess of fat. If you want to bulk up effectively, you have to increase your intake in a controlled manner. Talk to your trainer or a nutritionist about a plan that will take your normal level of activity and your goals into account.

You might have your workout routine planned down to the number of steps it takes to get from one machine to another-but if you're not just as careful about your diet, you may not see the results you want. Stick to a consistent body building diet and an eating schedule that boosts your metabolism, and you won't undo your own best efforts.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.


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