Five surprising summer habits that pack on the pounds

Swimsuit ready? Not for long. Gaining the weight you lost preparing for summer is so easy, you’re likely to do it without trying. If you don’t stop the eating patterns that unintentionally cause weight gain, you’ll never be successful losing body fat.

Tom Nikkola, director of nutrition and weight management at Life Time Fitness, “The Healthy Way of Life Company,” says people unintentionally sabotage their diet even as they’re cutting calories.

Here are five ways you may be packing on the pounds without even realizing it:

1. Load up on sugar

You don’t have to indulge in sweets or spoon extra sugar over your food to eat too much. If you eat a lot of processed foods, you’re probably already eating too much sugar. Nikkola says you can even find added sugar in processed meats. “White flour, bread, waffles, many cereals, chips, granola and crackers are easily converted to sugar as well,” he adds.

2. Skimp on protein and fat

“Protein and fat are macronutrients that are essential to our health,” Nikkola says. “By avoiding these foods, you’ll be more likely to have an insatiable appetite.” On the flip side, he notes people who include protein and fat in every meal are less likely to overeat and may reduce cravings for carbohydrate-rich or sugary foods.

3. Eat more breakfast cereal

“A bowl of cereal is a great way to start the day if your goal is accumulating additional body fat,” Nikkola says. Such a breakfast can leave you hungry just a few hours later, and reaching for high-carbohydrate snack foods. Before noon you’ll likely be feeling the effects of low blood sugar, like trouble focusing, a reduction in energy and increase in irritability (which only makes you want to eat more).

4. Fill up on fruit and fruit juice

Fruit and fruit juice are not synonymous in a healthy diet. “Juice is much more concentrated in sugar, especially fructose, and does not include fiber, which may help reduce your appetite,” Nikkola explains. “Loading up on juice is a great way to increase calorie intake, much like drinking soda would be.” Even too much whole fruit can lead to too much sugar in your diet. The best way to balance out your fruit and vegetable intake is to eat three to four servings of non-starchy vegetables for each serving of fruit.

5. Reward yourself after every workout

“It doesn’t take much to offset what you burn in each workout,” Nikkola says. “With a muffin, some chips, or a bowl of pasta you’ll replace all the glycogen you burned in your training session and eat enough extra carbohydrates to add to your fat stores.” Instead, refuel with whole food and include protein for better recovery.

Of course you don’t really want to gain weight this summer. Life Time Fitness has an in-house nutritionist on staff at most of its 105 clubs to work with members on their personal nutrition goals.

“When you become aware of the many causes of weight gain, you’ll understand why the approach we take at Life Time Weight Loss is more complicated, and more personalized, than most other weight management systems,” Nikkola says. If you’d like to see a longer list of how to get fatter this summer, check out Nikkola’s article 14 Ways to Get Fatter at