Travelling has been well known to be a hurdle in fat loss or body transformation journeys of which people who travel frequently for work or leisure will just exclude themselves from being able to achieve their goals OR many goals will instead be put on the back burner due to travels. While for most people a ‘holiday’ is time of recreation, recuperation and relaxation, if you don’t want it to get in the way of your goals then it doesn’t have to at all. In this article we will deep dive into some tips and pointers you can take with you on your travels to ensure you still endeavour to see results or not deviate from progressing on your body transformation.
Get familiar with your destination
Do a little research prior to your travels. See what restaurant options, convenience stores and supermarkets are in close vicinity to you. Remember some widely located restaurants and take out eateries such as Grill’d, Mad Mex, Guzman & Gomez, McDonalds, Subway, Boost, Sumo Salad, Sushi train etc have the nutritional information available on their website. With this information you’re then able to make the allowance for them within your intake requirements and keep within your target calorie goals. If you know what you have access to it can make for a breezy stay, pre-planning and wise choices.
Planning and applying a bit of thought to how you’re going to stay on track is a sound time and investment into the management of your goals. After you’ve done a bit of research into the accessibility of eat out locations and supermarkets you’re able to know if your diet is going to fall short of any essentials and instead make other accommodations in advance. For the most part ALL travel destinations will have convenience stores and supermarkets and restaurants that will cater to your meal requests. However, where you want to make some accommodations to ensure you’re staying on track you can always pre-pack non-perishable food items that are satisfactory in meeting your macronutrient requirements and are also convenient to take with you. Some examples of this include protein bars and shakes, quick cups of rice, tuna, rice cakes and peanut butter, muesli bars, crackers etc.
Consider pre-packing small snacks like this particularly if you’re travelling e.g. by plane, for a long period of time without food to save you opting for calorie-dense snacks on flight menus or minibar/impulsive snacks on arrival. Keep in mind often while travelling most people have difficulty in meeting their protein requirement (0.8-1.15g/per pound of body weight) given that most protein sources are in refrigerated or cooking required foods such as deli meats, dairy, lean cut meats etc. So equip yourself with bars or shakes that will aid in meeting your protein intake requirement and give a little more flexibility to fill your day with carb and fat sources which are relatively easy to meet on the go.
Pick a hotel with a gym
While training isn’t essential for results as nutrition is primarily responsible, for some people exercise is just a part of an everyday routine helping to keep focused on achieving progress and maintaining commitment. If this is you and you’re someone that is more inclined to stay on track after squeezing in a training session each day - no matter how extensive or express, then aim to opt for a hotel with a gym or one close by.
Book a hotel or apartment with a kitchen or kitchenette
If you have the utilities to make and prepare your own food staying on track will be pretty simple. When you're booking, look for somewhere that allows you to be able to do this or even has a usable fridge where you can store some of your refrigerated snacks.
Do a shop for essentials
As mentioned above, all locations will have some form of grocer so upon arrival get your staples that will assist in keeping your nutrition on track for the duration of your stay. It is wise to have what meals you can as well as snacks as accurate in intake as possible so if you then dine out and guesstimate the calories or leave yourself a calorie allowance for eating out then your margin of error is lesser from a daily perspective.
Think of it like this, if your intake goal is 1600 calories and you’re eating only 3 times a day guessing around 530 calories per meal and each of those guesstimations is off by about 200 calories then if you’re guessing 3 meals in the day you’re potentially exceeding your intake goal by 600 calories as opposed to 200 calories if you were to be off with just a single meal. Some good and minimal cooking essentials you can stock up on include:
- Chobani Yogurt
- BBQ Chicken No Skin No Stuffing
- Deli Meats
- Protein Bars - Like Quest and Aussie Bodies
- Protein Shakes
- Quick Oat Sachets
- Muesli Bars
- Quick Cups of Rice
- Rice Cakes
- Peanut Butter
- Some Bars
Fat loss and fat gain boils down to the result of calories in vs. calories out. If you’re travelling and have perhaps slightly increased your intake for the sake of having a little more flexibility, then be mindful of staying active as increasing your intake and lessening your activity is what can lead to holiday weight gain. Do what is realistic for you, whether you have a fairly low key day then opt to make do with your surroundings and enjoy an outdoor walk, local gym or fitness centre or even an impromptu in hotel room workout. Staying active doesn’t mean jogging around blocks or sweating it out in the gym for hours, make it manageable and integrated within your travels.
Dining out is where most people get let down when travelling. The reason being is usually one of the following:
1) Inaccurate guesstimations or allowances for a particular meal
2) Opting for something that they believe to be ‘healthy’ but is in fact quite calorie-dense
3) Giving up while out causing a blowout
In order to tackle any one of those issues you might want to apply the following tips that are further elaborated on our previous article Dining Out On A Diet.
Inaccuracy and uncertainty surrounding calorie intake
- Opt for a meal with a specified weight: Often at restaurants like steak houses, pubs, bar and grills etc the will have the option for a lean cut of meat with a specified raw weight. This weight specification is usually pretty true to the actual weight and can be trusted as a portion indicator of the meat selected.
- Ask for dry grilled NO OIL: Asking for no oil, butter, marinades or base sauce can save you anywhere from 110-150 calories a tablespoon making a large difference to overall intake and allowing for a more accurate guesstimation of what is on your plate.
- Ask for any sauces on the side: With the sauce portioned out on the side you’re likely to use less and also get a visual of how many grams it may be.
- Deconstruct the meal: This will allow you to make a more accurate entry into a calorie counting tool or your own estimate of what the overall calories will are. For example: The following burger may be accounted for as:
*1x Brioche Hamburger Bun
*1x Beef Patty
*1x Slice American Cheese
*1x Tablespoon Garlic Aioli
- Make an appropriated guess: You may not know the EXACT intake for what is on your plate however you may have access and knowledge of similar/the same food items that can be appropriated for the order you’ve made. For example, a generous side of medium cut chips may be accounted for as 1x KFC Regular chips and if a thinner fry like chip then you may use McDonalds medium fries as an indication.
- Keep it simple: On the above note, the less ingredients, the less complicated then the less of a margin of error you’ll likely be subject to. This can often be hard for fancy restaurants and finer dining and the best way to deal with difficult meals are just through breaking the dish down to the individual components. Tip: There's no need to do this at the dinner table simply save enough calories for the dine-out meal, take a photo of the dish or consult the restaurants Instagram/Facebook afterwards and make a guess using your discretion and calorie counting tool database.
Making poor choices
- Don’t be fooled by misleading labels: A lot of people will fall victim to this error when making a choice in dine out or take away food by selecting based on what the meal/food item claims to be ‘free from’ rather than the calorie density. For instance, many ‘raw vegan’ desserts will try and modify and recreate what may be classified as ‘junk’ e.g. a raw vegan Snickers slice, which is made of calorie dense components such as dates, macadamias, rice malt syrup etc.. So while it may be ‘raw’, ‘vegan’, ‘gluten free’, ‘dairy free’ it has the calorie equivalent if not more of its so-called ‘unhealthy’ variation.
- Consider the calorie density of the individual components: Following from the above note something that might seemingly be what you would consider healthy may be extremely calorie dense due to the components of the meal or way in which it has been cooked. Take a Caesar Salad for example - while the chicken and lettuce disguise the meal as ‘the better choice’ a Caesar salad will often clock up the same calories as a steak and chips just through the calorie-dense components such as the bacon, croutons and dressing. Remember: Your body doesn’t recognise food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but instead for its macronutrient (protein, carb and fat) values, whether you lose weight or gain weight then boils down to whether your caloric intake is greater or lesser than your expenditure.
- Remember what you’ve eaten that day: No food is good or bad but what can make it good or bad is when you consider it in conjunction with the other food you’ve eaten for the day. You may opt to have a very calorie-dense meal in a lean cut steak, cup of rice, side of chips and sauce clocking 800 calories and a is a relatively good split of protein, fats and carbs however if your maintenance intake is 1600 calories and you’ve already consumed 1000 of those calories that day then it perhaps isn’t the wiser choice. If you find you’ve had a lot of fat or carbs for example during the day and don’t have much of a calorie allowance left then simply order a lean protein source with a side of steamed vegetables or salad to keep it simple and workable within your goal intake requirements.
- Consider what the BEST option is: Think about what your food choices are in your proximity and try and opt for the best option in light of your goals. What would classify an option as the best suited? Use this as criteria:
- The nutritional information or specified weight portions of meat can be sourced from the restaurant/eatery
- It's a ONE-course self-selection menu as opposed to an 8-course degustation set menu
- The menu/or a dish option that is simple and can be broken down easily
- There’s an option that is lower in calories or more favourable to a particular macronutrient that would fit in given how you have eaten so far that day
- Opt for the less calorie-dense variation: Its always easier to make up intake through a beverage or later snack by going under your calories. It is harder and less favourable for staying on route to your goals to go over. Even if you have a safe buffer consider the calorie density of each meal and depending on your goal be conservative with the selection as the greater the calorie guesstimation the higher chance of a greater margin of error.
Giving up and becoming victim to a blowout
- Save ample calories for the dine-out meal: Be safe and conserve your calories during the day by having a light breakfast, smaller snacks and a greater gap between meals in order to save a generous calorie allowance for when you eat out. A safe buffer for dinner and dessert - depending on where you go is about 1000 calories. This could get you a steak, small side of chips, side of steamed vegetables and a small dessert like a slice with ice cream.
- Keep your protein higher, carbs and fats lower during the day: Dine out meals typically tend to be higher in fats and carbs so for that reason resort to the higher protein convenient essentials we mentioned above and try and meet your protein intake prior to dining out.
- Pre-plan: Once you’ve saved a calorie allowance, have an idea of where you’re going to go and what you’ll be ordering that way you can not only ensure you’re within your intake requirements but also have eaten adequately during the day so that you’re not restricted come the dine out meal.
- Don’t be peer pressured: You’re your own person in control of your actions, keep try to your plan and don’t let peer pressure get the better of you and derail your focus.
- Drink wisely: Alcohol and soft drinks are calorie-dense, make wiser choices to save you the calories. Vodka and soda water is the lowest calorie option at 65 calories per glass and wine/beer is pretty stock standard at around 100-150 calories per serve. Cocktails are high and should be avoided unless you’re willing to spend the ‘calorie price’ from your budget on them.
- Pull the handbrake on your eating when you leave the venue: Often people will dine out and have a tendency to go home and continue eating way over their calorie intake and food capacity. Stop at your dine out meal and don’t be tempted to fall into a downward spiral. The best way to avoid such a rabbit hole is by saving yourself ample calories so you don’t feel limited in the instance of dining out and restricted in your selection.
- Be mindful of your downfalls: If you’ve got weak tendencies for example with dessert then avoid setting these off in a vulnerable circumstance such as dining out while travelling as it can save you from blowing a meal outside of what's reasonable.
- Don’t forget your goals: Be mindful of your goals and don’t lose sight of them, you might be in a different environment but still have the goals and progress to be made.
Keep it simple: As mentioned above with your food choices, just keep it simple, when you’re keeping your eye on your intake for the purpose of fat lossless components and complication in food choice is preferred. This makes not only selecting something to eat easier but also accounting for it too.
Consider increasing your intake: If you’re not a regular traveller for work and you’re intending to take a break but don’t want it to hinder the results of your fat loss journey then consider either reversing your calorie intake up in anticipation of the trip or alternatively sitting at maintenance while you’re away. Consuming roughly what your body burns (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) while away will just prevent floundering your way in the calorie surplus zone eating more than your body can burn consequently causing fat gain. For the sake of your sanity, enjoyment and quality of your trip it is more favourable to take this approach then to feel restricted and run the risk of having blow out days while away after giving up due to the difficulty in adhering to a lower intake in a more flexible environment.
Don’t restrict yourself: In the normal instance you might not opt for calorie dense foods when home or even dine out all too frequently in order to minimise the risk to your state of mind and fat loss results (remember more guessing - greater margin of error). However, when you’re away for the purpose of leisure or a holiday then it is important for the purpose of having balance and moderation to loosen the reigns a little to allow for further freedom. Certainly the doesn’t mean blow all your hard work and binge each day, but you’ll likely be doing a lot of dining out in which you are always in control of making a wise choice in light of your intake requirements however don’t opt out of those instances in fear of ruining your results. Progress is attained through consistency and consistency is achieved by a continual practice of an enjoyable and balanced method that facilitates longevity. Restrict yourself in the immediate and it’ll likely come back to bite you in the back side later on through a weak moment, giving in or feeling fed up wight he method. Give yourself an inch and it won’t mean you have to run a mile. Say if your intake requirement is 1800 calories for example, here is an example of a flexible day that is within the requirement and still allows for balance while travelling:
2x Slices Sourdough
Side of Tomato Sauce
1x Quest Bar
1x 6 Inch Subway with Grilled Chicken Breast, Lettuce, Tomato, Cheese and Mayonnaise
1x Chobani (plain) 170g
1x Lean Rump Fillet Dry Grilled 200g
1x Small Side Fries
1x Side Steamed Vegetables
1x Scoop Gelato
Be mentally committed
Begin your trip with the right mentality towards your goals and methods of dieting. If you deem yourself as likely to fail from the beginning or are blasé about the results then the post-holiday outcome will be proportionate to the effort you put in and will probably disappoint you. Proportion the level of effort you exert to maintaining your weight or continue progressing to your expectations of what you want to achieve. If you want to stay on track and just adapt to the different environment and circumstances then simply on board the above tips and go the extra mile to ensuring you’re on track.
Pre-plan your meals, take your food scales if you wish, take photos to keep you on track and aim to not use travelling (more so in the context of frequent work travelling rather than holidays) as an excuse to drop the ball. If on the other hand, you’re wanting to relax and take a holiday then ensure you’re aware of your intake boundaries and are able to make decisions that will minimise the risk of fat gain through excessive intake.
Be mindful that when you’re travelling through the travel itself if you’re flying, change in food and lifestyle you may experience slight water retention which isn’t to be confused with fat gain unless you’re eating in excess of your needs.
Learn how to eat according to your intake requirements, food preferences and lifestyle. We apply a science-based formula to generate the protein, fat and carb requirements of your body and use foods of your preference to meet these so you can still eat what you love and achieve results. We strategise your intake requirements in light of our professional expertise and experience according to how your body progresses. Flexible dieting is nutrition for your body’s needs, your lifestyle and taste buds.
Yours in Health & Fitness,
The Equalution Team