As you know, I like to, as much as I can, relate these blog posts to real life situations.  Well, I met someone recently that had some questions.  He told me he just wanted to get those defined abs he saw on the p90x infomercials but wasn't sure why he couldn't get the last few pounds in that area off.  I immediately went to questions about diet, and asked him to tell me what a normal day looked like.  Well, everything was looking awesome as I was reading his reply - lots of veggies, greek yogurt, eggs, lean protein, whey protein shakes, p90x 5-6 times a week.  Then his last three sentences were:

"I drink 2 diet cokes at night. Sometimes i will have some quaker rice cakes and crackers for a night time snack. I do enjoy my beer.  Let me know your thoughts."

I'm sure when you type that sentence, you don't think twice about it.  But I have to say, sometimes it's really easy being a Beachbody Coach, because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what, at least part of, the problem is here!

Diet Soda
Diet soda is a strange animal.  Yes, it technically has 0 calories.  But how come in multiple studies (Purdue University, 2008; University of Texas Health Center, 2005; University of California, San Diego, 2008 to name a few) rats and/or humans who consume diet soda gain as much as weight as the other test group drinking regular soda?  While these studies can't prove causation some scientists think that our brains "know" that something is wrong when we take in a caloricly vapid, yet extremely sweet substance and your brain tells your body that it therefore isn't "satisfied."  This can make you hungrier than ever, and crave more sweets, and maybe even trick your brain to store a greater percentage of the food that is about to be eaten as fat, as it would with simple sugar.

Also the popular artificial sweetener aspartame (in Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, and Nutra-sweet packets) has a huge range of potential negative side effects, many of which are admittedly unconfirmed.  When Monsanto was producing it, a big "reveal" came in 1999 when it was realized they were used genetically modified bacteria in the chemical manufacturing process.  Many natural food experts claim aspartame can cause increased risk of stroke, and cancer.  There isn't substantial evidence on this, but if there is even a possibility, and added to the fact that you may actually gain weight drinking it, why not just avoid it?

So don't get fooled that 0 calories means it's healthy.  Realistically a diet soda every once in a while is probably fine, but 2 a night is probably bad news!  Lastly, most diet sodas still have caffeine, and caffeine before bed is not a good idea!

Grazing
Remember - a 100 calorie swing each day can lead to gaining or losing a pound of fat per month.  After being so good all day, it's so easy to negate your good progress by "grazing" at night time.  I'm talking about the handful of doritoes, the cookie, the goldfish crackers, the pretzels, the cereal eaten straight from the box...you know exactly what I'm talking about because like me, you have grabbed that late night snack many times!  Especially when we get closer to bedtime, a high-glycemic food, like any cracker or chip, will spike your insulin levels, and you must realize that you won't be active again for a LONG time since you are about to sleep.  This will mean most of the calories you take in will be stored directly as fat!  So it goes without saying, be careful about the late night snacks!  If you do need to eat something before bed, try a Casein Protein shake.  Casein protein is a milk derivative protein, but unlike whey, it actually takes hours and hours to digest.  If you are lifting weights, it can be a great product to take before bed to maximize your gains - nourishing your muscles with lean protein over a sustained, long period of time while you sleep!  Taking your Shakeology as a true dessert, after dinner is an option too since it has a glycemic index of 24, however I prefer it during the day so I can benefit from the energy boost it provides.  But just know, it is an option!

But back to the grazing - the rice cakes and crackers and chips, can be a killer!  13 Tostitoes can be as much as 140 calories!  Some strategies to combat grazing are to 1) Drink lots of fluids.  Sometimes our body gets confused when it's dehydrated and thinks it's hungry too.  2) Just go to bed earlier.  Once you're upstairs in the bedroom, no cabinets are in sight!  Plus, getting more sleep will help control your appetite and lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Beer
In my "strategies for dining out" article, I talk a little bit about alcohol.  I am not in the business of telling you to not enjoy life, in fact I am here to help you enjoy it to the fullest!!  Beer makes people happy, but I'm assuming when he said "he enjoys his beer" he means he has on average one a day.  Again - let's do some simple math and say if he has 120 calories from beer a day, we are talking a pound of fat gained in about 29 days.

So what's the total damage?  One beer + rice cake/cracker snack + 2 diet sodas = 250-300 calories, mostly of carbs, fat, and alcohol (empty) calories, with little protein before bed, plus all the intangible negative effects of diet soda, plus caffeine from the diet soda before bed!  So watch out, these 3 vices definitely add up, especially if you are doing all three daily!!

This is to be shortly followed up by "3 Ways to Maximize Your Fat Loss" based on information I learned from my upline coach Jenelle Summers, Chalene Johnson's sister!