10 Worst Diet Mistakes Active People Make

Healthy eating is a key part of having an active lifestyle. You can be faithful to all of the recommended amounts and types of exercise and still not be eating right. Those diet mistakes can put a cramp in the fitness benefits you hoped to get with your exercise routine. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) points out these 10 diet mistakes active people make.


Skipping Breakfast

Preparing for Morning Workout

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Most experts agree that if you skip breakfast, you'll make up for it later in the day with more calories. You don't need a huge breakfast, but a light balanced breakfast can give you the right energy to start the day, especially for morning exercisers. If you really can't tolerate food before morning exercise, be sure that you at least rehydrate well.


Not Eating Before a Workout

You will get more out of your exercise session by having the right fuel on board. A good pre-workout meal should have carbohydrates, protein, and a little fat. You won't want a heavy meal before a workout, but a balanced light meal will provide what your body needs for energy and to build and tone muscles. Eat a small snack 30 to 90 minutes before exercise, or a small meal one to two hours before exercising.


Waiting Too Long After Exercise to Eat

Eating after your workout is as important as fueling it beforehand. A small meal of protein and carbs within two hours of your exercise session will give your body what it needs to build and repair muscles and the blood vessels that supply them.


Replacing Meals With Energy Bars or Replacement Drinks

There are no substitutes for unprocessed whole foods. Your body needs the wide variety of phytonutrients and fiber as are found in real fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. No "meal replacement" bars or drinks provide the variety that nature does. Use those convenience foods when necessary, but make it your steady habit to eat real food. Try mixing your own trail mix with dried fruits and nuts rather than having them in processed form in an energy bar.


Eating Too Much Protein and Not Enough Carbs

Trying to fuel your workout with poultry instead of pasta? You may love your low-carb diet, but carbohydrates are what your body needs for an effective workout. Give your body some carbs before your exercise session, and for endurance events such as long walks, runs, and bike rides, make your snack carbohydrate-based, such as trail mix. You can still enjoy low-carb recipes, but don't be afraid of a potato or some higher-carb vegetables if you had a good endurance workout.


Trusting Dietary Supplements Labels and Claims

What you read on the label of a dietary supplements is a marketing pitch, not research findings. The supplement industry is largely unregulated. Manufacturers can make many claims that would not be allowed for regulated drugs. Do your homework before putting anything into your body. Otherwise, you are just conducting your own uncontrolled experiment, and often one that is not cheap.


Consuming Too Many or Too Few Calories for Your Activity

You need to eat to fuel your body for your active lifestyle. But you probably fear to eat too much so that weight control becomes a challenge. Use a calorie calculator to see how many total calories per day your body is burning, plus activity calorie calculators to determine how many extra you may be burning. These are often built into activity monitors or apps that can help you find the balance.


Believing That You Can Eat Whatever You Want If You Exercise

Many people exercise to lose weight but soon find that they need to track what they eat if they want to see weight loss. It is very easy to make up for calories burned with a single extra "treat" after your workout. Find healthy, balanced, light meals and snacks relying on whole foods whenever possible. When you treat yourself, do it with fresh fruit rather than a processed snack high in sugar, fat, or salt.


Not Drinking the Right Amount of Fluids

If you feel thirsty, you need to drink water, whether during exercise or throughout the day. For most people, the sensation of thirst is trustworthy and you won't need to force additional fluids. During exercise, carrying a water bottle or using a hydration pack allows you to be ready to drink when thirsty rather than relying on drinking fountains. While you probably know to drink more when it's hot, you are also at risk in moderate climates and even in the cold. If you are exercising for more than an hour and sweating, you might need to use a sports drink to replace lost salts as well. Otherwise, plain cold water is the go-to drink.


Jumping on the Latest Diet Craze to Get an "Edge"

If it's new, maybe it will magically work, right? Seeing testimonials from sports figures and fitness gurus can lead you to try the craziest eating plans. But you live in the real world, and the magic just isn't going to happen. The basics of a healthy, balanced diet may not be new and exciting, but they work.

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