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Men's Top 5 Gut-Busting Diet Mistakes

What not to do for your belly's sake.

Eating Whenever

Not only do you have to watch what you eat, you have to pay attention to when you eat.

Eating on the run rather than following your body’s natural rhythm may contribute to weight gain. By eating at odd hours, you may be throwing off the brain signals that tell you when you are hungry and when you are satisfied. And that just might lead to eating more than you should.

Many people, Villacorta says, skip meals, thinking that cutting back on the number of meals they eat will help them slim down. That’s not true.

“Some of my heaviest clients eat fewer meals in a day,” Villacorta says.

What happens when you put off eating is your metabolism starts to slow down and your body begins to store fat. “Anything that affects the metabolic rate will contribute to fat build-up,” Villacorta says. And the bulk of that fat, he adds, gets stored in your midsection.

Your metabolism slows down naturally as part of the aging process, Villacorta says. Although there may be nothing you can do about that, you can make sure to keep it as active as possible by eating regularly. That means breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with healthy snacks in between.

White agrees. “Ideally, you want your body to run like a machine," he says, "fueling it regularly throughout the day.”

Downing Man-Sized Meals

This is an obvious one. But controlling portion size is key to controlling the size of your gut. This is a lot easier to do if you stick to good timing practices, because you are less likely to overdo it if you don’t let yourself get too hungry to begin with.

“Excessive hunger is often followed by gorging,” White says.

Your three meals, Villacorta says, should be no more than 700 calories each. A cup of steel-cut oats with a cup of blueberries and a tablespoon of walnuts makes a great power breakfast. Lunch and dinner should be 4 to 5 ounces of lean meat for protein or a similarly sized serving of omega-3 rich fish, such as salmon, with veggies and a whole grain like quinoa or brown rice. And for your mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, skip the chips and cookies. Instead, eat an apple and a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt.

In White’s experience, the healthier the food you eat, the more of it you can allow yourself.

“People think that dieting means eating less; they envision hunger,” he says. “But if you move from steak and potatoes to fruits and vegetables, you can actually eat more.”

You also want to move away from processed foods. They may be quick to prepare, but they can contribute to weight gain because they are often higher in fat and sugar than whole foods are.

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