Whether you’re travelling for work or pleasure, maintaining the healthy habits you’ve worked so hard to form can be a big ask away from home. And while you deserve a break after becoming fitter and healthier, you shouldn’t let your summer holiday leave you with a souvenir of weight gain and self-loathing.
Fortunately, with a little planning, you can enjoy your trip while maintaining your current weight and fitness levels. Whatever your plans, we’ve laid out a healthy travel guide to help you avoid some of the common potholes folk often fall into while away. You’ll return every bit as fit and healthy as when you left and look as good on arrival as you did on departure.
Use these smart strategies to keep your health on track so you’re voyaging smart.
1. Staying hydrated
Problem: Remembering to hydrate
It’s easy to master hydration at home, but it’s difficult while traveling. You may not want to get out of your seat or make a pit stop, but it’s worth the hassle for your waistline. According to a study at Purdue University, Indiana, US, our minds too often confuse the signals for hunger and thirst. Your regular hydration routine is at risk when you’re on the move.
Solution: Keep one’s water above head
Having a solid hydration plan keeps your appetite in check. First thing upon waking on your travel day, drink a minimum 500ml of water. Chug another 250-500ml before departing and be prepared to have a 500ml drink for every two hours you’re en route.
If you’re flying, snag an aisle seat to make toilet trips a breeze and always pack a refillable container. As a bonus, hydrating properly is the best way to prevent bloating.
2. Planning for success
Problem: Lack of healthy food options
Just a few hours in an airport terminal or a stop at the petrol station can easily turn into a few hundred unwanted calories.
In fact, people who travel for business for two weeks or more a month are more likely to be obese and have poorer health than those who travel less often, found research in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
That’s because the majority of your food options will be empty calories that are rife with sugars and carbohydrates and spike blood levels of insulin – a hormone that causes your body to store fat – leaving you unsatisfied and hungry for more.
Solution: A little forethought goes a long way
Come prepared with travel-friendly, high protein snacks in your hand luggage. A study by the University of Missouri, US, found eating less energy dense, high-protein snacks improve appetite control and reduce subsequent food intake in healthy women.
Snack foods like John West Light Lunches, jerky, low-calorie meal replacement bars, protein powders and ready-to-drink shakes are great on-the-go options you can take anywhere. Plan ahead to avoid the death traps at the food courts.
Problem: Exercising while on the road is a challenge
Anything from deciding not to pack running shoes to struggling to find the time to break a sweat can make you shrug off your regular workout on your holiday. For general good health, the 2011 UK Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults get a minimum of two and a half hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
However, researchers at the Harvard Medical School, in Massachusetts, US, found that women actually need an hour a day of physical activity to stay at a steady weight. Work to that guideline and you’ll always hit your happy weight.
Solution: Train your mind to think ahead
While your travels may be a welcome break in routine, don’t let that be an excuse to skip a workout. Before leaving home, find out what fitness opportunities your accommodation offers.
While most will have a pool, others may offer tennis, walking paths, hikes, bike rentals and full gyms. Then, pack the appropriate gear and schedule your workout at the beginning of the day because it’s too easy to make excuses for yourself when you’re tired at the end of a long one.
No hotel gym? Design your own hotel-room workout using inexpensive equipment, like resistance bands or a skipping rope. If you prefer a health club, ask if your hotel is affiliated with a nearby local gym. Many offer discount day-passes for hotel guests. All you have to do is ask.
4. Eating out
Problem: Sampling all the holiday dishes
Travelling can often mean eating out every day, so you’ll want to try restaurants and treats you can’t get at home. You absolutely should take advantage of these opportunities, but plan when to splurge and when to go healthy so you fight off regret.
Solution: Keep busy to eat less often
A study by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition showed that intermittent fasting might be the best way to avoid extra weight-gain without having to spend more time actually working out. The idea of intermittent fasting is to reduce the amount of allowable ‘eating’ hours in the day.
Someone practicing intermittent fasting would choose to eat one or two larger meals containing more calories during a short period of the day. Even cutting out breakfast and eating a larger lunch or dinner would greatly reduce the additional holiday calories
Problem: Counting the cost of cocktails’ calories
While traveling you may want to let loose and have a drink or two, and that’s OK, but when you’re worried about calories, drinking the wrong cocktail can make all the difference.
Toss back a few drinks and before you know it you’ve logged the caloric equivalent of a slice of cheesecake and an 8oz sirloin. Worse, the alcohol also compromises your willpower so you’ll be more likely to order the cheesecake on top of the rum.
Solution: Choose wisely
Set a cap of how much you’ll allow yourself before going and opt for one of these cocktails that are all less than 100 calories and zero fat.
Squeeze a wedge each of lime and orange into a shot of cranberry flavored vodka, then top with soda water and serve on the rocks.
World’s Easiest Cocktail
Ask for a flavored vodka or rum with soda water and a twist of lime on the rocks.
This classic of 25ml orange juice and 75ml champagne is the perfect drink for a lovely brunch.
Squeeze a couple of lime and orange wedges into a glass. Add a shot of tequila and a splash of sweet and sour mix (optional). Either blend with ice cubes or serve on the rocks.
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