10 Worst Diet Mistakes Active People Make

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 is no substitute for whole foods. Your body needs the wide variety of phytonutrients and fiber found in real fruits and vegetables and whole grains. No "meal replacement" bars or drinks provide the variety that nature does. Use these 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 vs. having them processed and pressed into a 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, 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

You are reading marketing on the label, 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. You really don't need to be your own laboratory rat.


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.


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 aren't drinking enough. When you exercise you need to avoid dehydration. While you probably know to drink more when it's hot, you are also at risk in moderate climates and even in the cold. The newest wisdom is to let thirst be your guide and be ready to "drink when thirsty." Carrying a water bottle or using a hydration pack allows you to be ready to drink when thirsty.


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 into trying the craziest eating plans. But we 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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