Staying active and eating nutritiously during the day can help you get confident and healthier overall, but poor nighttime habits can definitely hinder our progress or stop us from reaching our fullest potential with our fitness efforts. Thus, avoiding nighttime behaviors that make us less fit can allow us to maximize our workouts and clean eating to achieve long-lasting fitness results.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on creating and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits, especially at night, as a way to unwind, relax and promote rejuvenation for the next day ahead. Going to sleep with the right mindset can make or break our following day, and any poor habit can easily interfere with our metabolisms, emotions, cravings and decision-making. Such influence can cause us to become less fit than we might like, especially if these intrusive habits become regular with time. Instead of ruining all of your hard work during the day, through proper diet, stress management technique and exercise, with a poorly planned evening, take note of these eleven things that we should all stop doing at night in order to stay fitter, leaner and more on track with any health and fitness goals.
1. Eating Too Large A Meal
Eating too much for dinner can overwhelm the body and interfere with a smooth and healthy digestion. Such overwhelm is especially prevalent if the meal consists of acidic foods and protein. While protein is great for us, excess portions can cause the body to become too acidic (it thrives in alkalinity) and supply too much foods and nutrients for the body to efficiently break down.
2. Eating Too Many Carbohydrates
Eating too many carbs, even from complex sources, such as whole grains, fruits with pectin (apples, grapefruit, citrus, and stone fruits), beans and legumes, and vegetables, can slow the metabolism and interfere with fitness goals. At night, the body has less opportunity to burn off calories, so carbohydrates will be stored and digested easily, without part of it being burned off through the digestion and consumption itself.
3. Not Eating Enough
If you restrict yourself from enough protein and vital nutrients, because you find that eating later at night will be less effective for fitness goals, then you might put your body in starvation mode and have cravings for other sugary items, such as ice cream for dessert. Such myths about eating past 6 p.m. or a certain time should be taken for what they are. Eat when you are hungry! Plus, if you worked out, you need fuel to repair and strengthen muscles.
4. Having Caffeine
Caffeine can interfere with our circadian rhythms and sleep patterns, which in turn will cause us to be less fit due to the imbalance in hormones and likelihood of chronic fatigue. Instead of drinking a cappuccino to end dinner, have a cup of decaffeinated tea or water with lemon to hydrate and calm the body, without ruining the ability to fall asleep and remain asleep throughout the night.
5. Sleeping With Your Phone
Not only does doing late-night work emails or playing games on your phone keep you more alert due to the phone's lit screen and stimulating nature, but it can also create stress, which can lead to excess cortisol and promotion of fat storage. Remove your phone from the bedroom to sleep soundly and not be distracted by thoughts of work or notifications. Instead of playing games before bed, read a book or take a bath to relax.
6. Drinking Alcohol With Your Meal
Studies show that alcohol can slow the metabolism and dehydrate the body, which can in turn make us feel less fit, more bloated, and sluggish the following morning. Alcohol can also make our muscles stiff and hinder the ability for muscle repair and recovery post-workout. Drinking may also make our workouts harder the next day, and such fatigue and stress can make us less motivated to stick with a fitness program.
7. Popping Pain Killers Post-Workout
If you are constantly consuming Advil at the end of the night to overcome post-workout soreness, you could be interfering with the body's ability to gain and maintain muscle. Take advantage of your exercise burn, and allow it to build and strengthen muscle so that you can have a faster metabolism and become better with each workout session. If you are sore, ice for 20 minutes instead of looking for medications to ease the tension.
8. Having Too Packed A Social Calendar
While having a packed calendar is great for boosting your social network and promoting happiness, leaving little time for sleep and consuming too many meals outside of home can really hurt your fitness efforts. Plus, if you're doing happy hours or ordering alcohol when dining out, those extra calories and metabolism-hindering abilities will lower your fitness levels over time. Stay busy, but give yourself a few days to mellow out at home, too.
9. Going To Bed Angry
Having an argument before bed without coming to a resolution can create stress and negative feelings that may keep you awake or lead to a disruptive night. Such stresses and lack of sleep will hurt your efforts to get more fit and gain lean muscle, as minimal sleep can mess with the hormonal balance and lead to unruly cravings and emotions the following day.
10. Working Out Too Close To Bed
While working out late at night can be beneficial, as late night workouts can promote sounder sleep and great weight management, some people might experience too heavy of a stimulation that can then disrupt the ability to fall asleep. Plus, if you find yourself ravenous post workout, you might eat too much right before bed and find yourself with stomach discomfort. Work out two to three hours before bed for optimal benefits.
11. Sleeping In A Heated Bedroom
Sleeping in a room that is too hot can make us sweaty and more prone to having a difficult, disruptive night. Plus, heat can cause our metabolism to slow down, which can hinder our fitness achievements. Set the thermostat between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are trying to get in shape and make sustainable, healthy habits, your nightly routine should complement all your daytime efforts and goals. By eliminating poor behaviors and prioritizing eating well, sleeping and limiting stress at the end of the day, you'll be better able to stay on track with your fitness goals and to find greater success long-term.
Images: Getty Images (12)