I’ve been traveling a fair bit lately and a question that often presents itself to me during my travels is “how do you stay on track”? Today, I share with you my top travel tips on how to maintain your physique whilst “living your best life”. The answers aren’t as drastic as you may think.
Unfortunately, for those invested in a health and fitness-based lifestyle, holidays can be a source of stress and anxiety. They worry about being all their hard work going to waste however, with a little bit of planning, this doesn’t need to be the case. Holidays can be an incredible way to allow the body to rest and the mind to destress which can actually help your physique improve. Rest and recovery periods allow cortisol and inflammation in the body to reduce and it allows our muscle fibres to repair which leads to greater gains. The most important thing to remember with holidays is they don’t need to be a complete excuse to let yourself go. I’m not saying you should spend your holiday in the gym or eating lettuce leaves but there certainly needs to be some form of discipline and moderation if you don’t want to come back home looking like a potato.
KEEP YOUR NEAT LEVELS HIGH.
“NEAT” refers to “Non Activity Exercise Thermogenesis”, which essentially means the calories we burn outside of the gym. Fortunately for us, NEAT accounts for most of our caloric energy expenditure throughout the day, which, is why less sedentary people tend to be in greater shape. The amazing thing about holidays is that they can be a great excuse to move. Instead of taking transport, walk everywhere you can. Not only does this keep NEAT levels high but it allows you to see the cities that you’re visiting in much better detail. Engage in activities while you are abroad and make the most of your time; do the treks and hikes, go play in the the water sporting activities, walk on the beach, do yoga out on the grass, swim in the pools and oceans, mountain bike through the terrain. Do whatever it is that you can to explore your destination in an active manner.
What about training? Personally, I generally choose to train on holidays. I may have one or two days off here and there but for me training isn’t a chore, so I enjoy exploring new gyms and their equipment as well as getting my NEAT in by some of the ways mentioned above. If for whatever reason I cannot get access to a gym, I will do hotel room or outdoor workouts. There are so many body weight movements that you can do such as push ups, dips, pull ups etc., which can be done any where and they will keep you relatively conditioned.
THE ENERGY EQUATION
If you want to maintain your physique whilst traveling, you need to be aware of your energy balance; "calories in versus calories out".
If you choose to indulge a little make sure you are burning as many calories as you consume (to maintain) or are burning more calories than you consume (deficit). If you aren’t being as active as you would like, be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth as a low energy expenditure and a high caloric intake will hinder progress.
Tying in to the energy equation mentioned above, here are some food related tips and tricks to keep you on track.
The rule of 3.
When traveling it can be helpful to just stick to three meals a day. Something that can help with this, especially if you are a big eater, is to use intermitting. Essentially, less snacking means less calories.
Buffer the buffets – Keep it light.
If you eat nothing but pastries and pizza for two weeks straight your gains will suffer. Instead of gorging at the buffets, keep your meals light. Fill your plate with lean protein and veggies first then add in some healthy fats or carbs. Be mindful that holidays are not an excuse to binge. What I like to do is follow an 80/20 rule whilst traveling. 80 percent of my meals are clean and light and then I indulge in the really special foods that I want.
This applies more for longer stays or if you can stay in an apartment style of villa that allows you to cook. Being in control of your meals means less “surprise” calories and better controlled portions. I always choose to cook where I can, for example, I may cook my own breakfast and then indulge in something fancier at lunch and dinner. By cooking for myself, I can plan some more macro friendly meals and then have some more wiggle room when I am out and about.
You don’t need to track like a mad man (or woman) when you are on holiday but having a rough guide is useful especially if you are serious about body composition, are near a show or are cutting. Rough estimates are better than nothing and this gives you some control.
Ensure you get enough protein every day. Protein is the main catalyst in building muscles and maintaining them. It is also the most satiating macronutrient so I always ensure to have protein with each meal. If I want a snack during the day I make sure it is protein-rich which is why I carry ONEST WHEY with me when I travel. I have my ONEST WHEY in little zip lock bags which I carry around with me for my post-workout shake, with a side of fruit as a snack or nuts if I am hungry in-between meals, or I mix it into oats as a quick, delicious, pro gains breakfast.