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How To Stay Fit On Holiday
In this blog post we take a look at how to stay fit on holiday.
Specifically we'll cover:
- Choice of holiday
- Air travel
- Nutrition strategies whilst on holiday
- Putting it all together.
It is often overlooked but some of the choices that we make, well before embarking on our holiday, will have an effect on how we look when we return.
If you consider the various common holiday options that are available these days:
- Hotel (Half / Full-board)
- Cruise and
- All Inclusive.
These all present a multitude of different possibilities to allowing you to achieve a healthy diet and maintain your fitness levels whilst on holiday.
Self-catering To All Inclusive -
Different Ends Of The Spectrum
Whether on holiday or at home, your environment plays a large part in overall success. Having the right foods, utensils and equipment available makes 'winning the game' less of a challenge.
Self-catering provides the ability to more closely control what you consume. If your accommodation has catering facilities, then more options become available to you. You can shop locally and eat more closely to how you would at home. This in turn can provide flexibility for eating evening meals out at restaurants, by creating some headroom.
All Inclusive & Hotel Buffets
Most of us typically struggle in ‘free for all’ hotel buffet or All Inclusive (AI) situations. We have a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) which drives us to try a bit of everything at a buffet! We feel ‘hard done by’ if we’ve left a dish untried. This can quickly add up to overeating. Especially, when you compound this with a host of well-presented desserts!
With AI, we often feel we’ve already paid for the items, so we should aim to consume as much as physically possible or we are selling ourselves short. In fact, it can take weeks or even months to work off a few weeks of AI over indulgence. The reality is by going ‘full bore’ at this sort of setup, we are doing ourselves no favours.
As we can see, these sort of scenarios, where large quantities of high calories foods are readily available to tempt us, it is likely to have an impact on our health and waistlines!
How To Stay Fit On Holiday Tip
How To Stay Fit On Holiday Tip
So early on in the holiday selection process, you need to determine what type of catering setup is going to best fit in with your aims.
Airport and Plane
The next hurdle assuming you are flying to your holiday destination is likely to be the airport and the plane itself. Both of these present challenges to eating well.
Most of the major airports now have comprehensive websites which list the catering outlets that they have within them. This allows you to review the options ahead of using the airport and decide whether the choices are acceptable or if you need to take your own food.
Budget airlines are notoriously bad for offering healthy food options on their planes. Unless you are travelling long haul, your options are likely to be sandwiches and fast food snacks. When you combine these with the fact that you'll be extremely sedentary for several hours - it's not a great combination.
Again, you can review the food options available on most airlines and routes via their websites. If these don’t look good or you are unable to ascertain what they are – then plan accordingly.
Suitable alternatives to relying on the cabin food would be carry-on: fruit, nuts, protein bars, boiled eggs, whey protein in a shaker etc. The use of a cooler bag greatly increases the options here.
Nutrition & How To Stay Fit On Holiday
My advice for eating meals whilst on holiday would be to aim to eat mostly healthy fats & protein during the days. Then, if you are likely to be eating out in the evening, aim to have the bulk of your carbs for the day during the evening meal. This should be easy to achieve, as most restaurants will naturally look to provide high carb options any way (it’s a lot cheaper for them to provide carbs than it is protein!)
This approach also works very well if you’ve managed to include some sort of exercise into your day, ahead of the evening meal.
Whilst on holiday you should also consider food emergencies. Depending on how strict you are being, you could look to take with you some staples such as:
- Protein bars
- Protein brownies
- Whey protein powder
- 85% Dark chocolate (Lindt, Green & Blacks etc.)
- Beef Jerky and
- Unprocessed nuts.
Taking these with you or finding suitable outlets where they can be purchased near to your accommodation, will avoid being in the situation where you are forced to accept poor choices due to hunger.
Be Mindful Of Energy Balance
Sadly, there isn’t a magic formula that means you can get away with eating to excess for a couple of weeks without impact. As usual it all comes down to the rules of Thermodynamics and Energy Balance. If your energy expenditure is less than your intake you will gain weight.
That said, with consideration for energy balance, some moderate exercise, making some smart food choices and enjoying everything in moderation you can easily ensure that things don’t spiral out of control.
How To Stay Fit On Holiday Tip
My goal when on holiday is to shoot for maintenance. This means I get to thoroughly enjoy the experience whilst having good food and drink.
Take Your Supplements
If you normally take supplements when at home, then it’s a good idea to take your own supply on holiday. This will allow you to continue taking them whilst away and not rely on local health food / pharmacy bought equivalents.
When I travel, I usually carry small portions of Multivitamins, Vitamin D (not as important if heading to a warm climate where sun exposure is likely) and Omega-3. As well as a small bag of Whey protein powder.
If your holiday is to a warmer climate than where you live (😊) then you’ll want to ensure you are consuming more water than you normally do.
Slight dehydration can often be mistaken for hunger. So, by ensuring you're properly hydrated you'll avoid snacking unnecessarily.
You can checkout our guide on how much water to drink but as a rough indicator - aim for maintaining a near clear (very pale yellow) coloured urine through the majority of the day.
Snacking During The Day
Many people (myself included) find they have less of an appetite in hotter climates. However, if you normally snack regularly when at home, you may find it easier to carry on with this routine and avoid large gaps between meals and increased hunger.
Combining this approach with smart snack choices, can work very well. It removes the urgency to get food and with that, the likelihood of making poor choices.
Use our strategies for Eating At Restaurants to help you: peruse the menu, plan your meals to be within your parameters, ask for sauces on the side and ingredient substitutions where necessary.
All of these will allow you to enjoy yourself without feeling things have been taken out of your control.
Each night is a weekend night when on holiday!! It’s very tempting to hit it hard each night but you need to consider the impact that is having on your: health, sleep quality, energy levels for the following day and if drinking lots of high calorie drinks your waistline!
My advice would be to avoid beer (I know this may be difficult for some – as an ex-beer drinker, I can appreciate your pain!) However, due to beer:
- Being high in carbs
- Lowering testosterone and
- Being estrogenic.
It really should be minimised or avoided if you are serious about your physique.
My advice would be to go with ‘cleaner’ alcoholic drinks and combine them with low carb mixers. Moscow Mule’s, Vodka soda with a wedge of lime, dry white wine, dry cava, tequila, whiskey on rocks etc. Typically, it’s not the alcohol that ramps up the calories but the sweet drinks that it’s mixed with.
You can download our Free Alcohol Diet Impact Infographic showing the common alcoholic drinks and the calories that come with each - it's a useful guide on how to use your calorie budget!
You can review Alcohol And How To Make It Work With A Diet for further tips.
As this is a time of relaxation, de-stressing and recovery, I personally aim to keep exercise just ticking over. It’s a good idea to just fit in what works, don’t stress over matching what you usually do at home and try to make the whole thing fun.
I typically use a hotel or resort gym (if available). It’s often possible to get a gym pass which covers a number of sessions or days entry whilst you are at the resort.
In between my gym sessions I look to do some simple Bodyweight HIIT sessions. With these sort of routines, I am not looking to be setting Personal Best’s! Just to get the blood flowing, get an elevated heart rate and burn off some calories. All of which makes you feel better and offsets any indulgences in alcohol or food that you may be making.
For bodyweight routines, it will be something simple using a timer, such as these HIIT sessions. These can be done anywhere: hotel room, beach or hotel gym.
Other options for exercising whilst on holiday are:
Walking is an excellent method of burning calories, without raising hunger levels significantly. You can combine the exercise with sightseeing and not even be aware that you are actively exercising.
If you are at a typical Sun type holiday then you will usually have access to a pool or even the sea to get some swimming done. Swimming is a great all over exercise which burns large amounts of calories in a short time. Ideal for offsetting your holiday excesses!
Trying Something New
The easiest way to include exercise into a holiday is to make it fun! Try something new or unique to the surroundings. You could try new activities such as: windsurfing, paddle boarding or surfing. With any new activity, due to your lack of ability you’ll be burning a ton of calories through the effort of just trying to do it!
Taking Time Off From The Gym
A lot of people (and I used to be amongst them) worry that their progress is going to go backwards, if they take a week off from their normal gym routines. The fact is, taking a week or two off from strength training will have no negative impact. This is particularly true if you’ve followed one of my programmes that are focussed on producing long term muscle growth. Having the time off will allow rest and recovery and when you return to your normal routine your first one or two sessions will be slightly degraded, before moving back to where you were and then onwards with progress.
Holidays are the perfect time to de-stress and recover from the day to day activities that we all have to do. You can compound this with improved sleep quality. Having the opportunity to spend more time in bed is one of the things people look forward to during a break. Getting a good solid 8 hours will certainly help to keep you energised and feeling refreshed during your vacation.
How To Stay Fit On Holiday - Sleep Life Saver
For further tips on getting a better night's sleep, there are 25 steps to help improve your sleep in our Sleep Hacking Checklist.
Putting It All Together
How To Stay Fit On Holiday
Hopefully this post have given you some useful ideas on How To Stay Fit On Holiday.
However, after all the above is said and done, you need to enjoy the holiday!
If you spend the whole trip worrying about the impact it’s having on your health, weight, fitness and waistline, it’s going to detract from what should be a highly enjoyable experience.
Allow yourself some indulgences but be mindful of how these fit in with your overall daily activity levels and calorie budget. Using this approach will allow you to easily maintain your position whilst on holiday and return full of vigour and energy to hit your exercise and healthy living afresh.
How To Stay Fit On Holiday Checklist
Here's the takeaways for How To Stay Fit On Holiday:
- Plan ahead:
Choose the type of holiday and facilities that you'll have access to carefully.
Make sure they fit with your aims.
- Consider the journey as well as holiday itself.
- Pack your usual supplements and medications.
- Aim for a neutral energy balance to maintain weight.
- Look to incorporate some moderate exercise.
- Take opportunity to try new activities.
- Make smart food choices.
- Moderate alcohol intake & make smart choices.
- Prioritise good quality sleep.
- Above all - enjoy the holiday!
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