If you’re worried about putting on weight on holiday, and how you can go about eating healthy food on your travels, read this! RAYMOND KIANG, gym manager at Ultimate Performance Singapore (U.P.), shares some helpful tools and tips for staying on track when you’re away from home.
#1 Plan ahead
“It’s normal to put on weight on holiday. Flying, late nights, alcohol and different foods can cause the body to retain additional water, making the scales shoot up. But, with some careful preparation, you can head into your holiday knowing that your break won’t set back your fat loss efforts,” explains Raymond. “It can really pay off to plan ahead – whether it’s packing some healthy food and snacks for on the go or prepping your pre-flight meal in advance.”
In fact, he says that taking the time to prepare a nutritious breakfast before the morning of your flight is likely to keep you on track for the rest of the day. “If you’re ‘forced’ to eat a full English breakfast at the airport because you haven’t packed suitable options, you’re far more likely to give in to the ‘screw it!’ mentality sooner rather than later; and that can lead to putting on weight.”
Additionally, he suggests scouting out healthy food options once you’re at your destination. This may include researching health food stores or mapping grocery stores near where you’re staying, or scoping out the nearby restaurants to ensure you’re continuing to eat whole, nutritious foods while away.
#2 Set an alcohol and eating out “budget”
“Alcohol can have several detrimental effects on your progress. Not only does it contain hidden calories that contain zero nutrients, but it also significantly lowers your inhibitions around food,” explains Raymond.
To stop one drink from turning into a bender, he suggests the following:
Keep to a two-to-three-drink limit
“Faced with an all-inclusive bar, you may hear the alarm bells ringing. But, setting yourself a limit for alcoholic drinks means you can enjoy yourself and still keep a clear head the next day,” says Raymond. “Most bad food decisions occur after around two drinks. So, a two-to-three-drink cap is a sensible time to stop. If you’re travelling for work, ask yourself whether you’d drink alcohol during a normal work week.”
Stick to spirits
“Opting for spirits and diet mixers over beers and wines can help you save on calories. An average pint of lager will set you back over 300 calories. But, a single measure of vodka and a diet mixer totals up to a mere 60 calories.”
And, if spirits aren’t your thing, he suggests halving your alcohol intake by opting for a spritzer rather than a full glass of wine.
Have a glass of water on the side
“Perhaps one of the biggest issues when opting for spirits is the fact they seem to go down so quickly! Keep a glass of water on the side and kill two birds with one stone. Not only are you less likely to reach the all-important alcohol ‘danger zone’ much less quickly, but you’ll also stay hydrated!”
#3 Keep mealtimes consistent
“Humans thrive on structure and routine, and it’s not uncommon for many of us to revert to bad habits when this is disrupted,” says Ray.
What’s more, research shows that the more you are surrounded by high-calorie foods, the more likely you are to over-consume them – which can lead to putting on weight. And, if your go-to destination is an all-inclusive, there’s only so long your willpower is likely to hold out if you’re surrounded by unlimited high-calorie food options, he says.
“Keeping your mealtimes consistent with your normal routine and maximising your food quality will help to avoid mid-afternoon blood sugar crashes that send you reaching for the family-sized bag of tortillas.”
#4 Put protein first
“Feel frazzled when faced with making on-the-spot food decisions? Always opt for your protein source first!” says Ray. “If you’re heading down for breakfast, opt for an omelette or poached eggs with smoked salmon over pancakes. For lunch, go for lean chicken breast and a salad instead of a burger and fries.”
He also recommends stocking up on travel-friendly options like biltong, protein powder in sealed sachets, or small pots of protein yoghurt to have on hand. “You can even pre-bag servings of nuts, berries or crudites to snack on if temptation strikes!”
#5 Stay hydrated
“It may be ‘tradition’ to sink a few pre-holiday pints in the airport. But turning up to the hotel hungover is not the best start if you’re serious about your results,” says Raymond.
“And it’s not just the extra calories from alcohol that are a gains-killer; dehydration can be a major contributor to falling off track. Some of the symptoms of mild dehydration can resemble symptoms of hunger, leaving you reaching for the nearest snack rather than some precious H2O.”
Air cabin humidity is also significantly lower than our typical indoor environment, making dehydration very likely. Raymond recommends setting reminders to ensure you drink approximately 250ml of fluid every hour to offset this.
And, if you’re in for a long road trip, he advises packing a large bottle to ensure you can keep up your water intake on the road.
#6 Pack your supplements!
“Whether you’re on the road or on the plane, there’s no excuse for not taking your supplements! Not only will they help with minimising water retention, reducing inflammation and improving electrolyte balance, but they also serve as a powerful reminder to look after your health while you’re away,” says Raymond.
This article on eating healthy food and avoiding putting on weight on holiday appeared in the July 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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