5 Common Habits That Could Be Making You Fat

Enjoying a Few Too Many Brewskis

If you enjoy a few brewskis after your workouts while watching your favorite show, you probably wouldn't think those drinks are contributing to your weight woes. News flash: They very well could be. 

One of the all-time worst diet-wreckers is alcohol. And even a small amount can be bad news for your diet. In fact, one study recently found that out of all the habits that can lead to weight gain, drinking alcohol was the worst (even worst than eating out and watching lots of TV).

Here's why: Alcohol is known to induce alterations in the brain that activate your appetite. At the same time, it acts on other areas of the brain that enhance the feel-good response of food, so we want to eat more. 

Research shows that having alcohol before a meal will boost hunger and increase our enjoyment of eating the food, so you'll have a harder time controlling your portion intake. In addition, alcohol is known to disrupt your sleep, which leads another physique-destroying habit: lack of sleep.

MoreDoes Beer Affect Your Training?

Not Getting Enough Zzzzz's

Hundreds of studies now show that those who get insufficient sleep tend to be heavier than those who get 7 to 9 hours a night. When you get less than seven hours of sleep per night, hunger hormones are increased and so is desire for high-fat and high-calorie foods.

In addition, other studies show eating at night trips up the body's natural hunger and appetite control mechanisms, making you eat more calories. Because humans aren't bats or vampires, it's a good rule to not eat past 8 p.m. and strive to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.

More3 Reasons You Should Sleep More

Being Lazy

Sure, you may work out hard, maybe you've even completed a race or two. But if you're still gaining weight, chances are you're being lazy and don't move around much during the day. 

Research shows that people who are the leanest move the most during the day and burn more calories from what's called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). These are people who fidget, they get up and walk around, and they don't sit for long periods of time.

Many athletes are so exhausted after working out, that all they do is sit around and watch TV, given the opportunity. They essentially burn fewer calories because they move less. One study found that women burned 70 fewer calories during the days they had a hard workout versus when they didn't exercise.

In order to break this habit, limit the time you spend sitting or watching TV and make sure you get up at least once an hour to walk around and expend some energy. A good rule when watching TV is to get up during the commercials and stretch or move.

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About the Author

Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD

Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD is a San Francisco-based sports dietitian. She is the coauthor of Energy to Burn: The Ultimate Food Guide to Fuel Your Active Life (Wiley, 2009) and The Real Skinny: 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions (Penguin, 2013).

Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD is a San Francisco-based sports dietitian. She is the coauthor of Energy to Burn: The Ultimate Food Guide to Fuel Your Active Life (Wiley, 2009) and The Real Skinny: 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions (Penguin, 2013).

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