Going on holiday usually means putting on a little holiday weight – but wait a minute! What if I told you that all that was entirely up to you? As impossible as it may sound, maintaining your waistline and body fat levels while on vacation can be achieved, with just a few simple tweaks to how you approach your eating habits:
1. Back-load your carbohydrates
Say “no” to toast but a big “yes” to bacon! Starting your day with protein and dietary fat not only works to better regulate energy production in the day, but also helps to maintain blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. Substituting your starches with fibrous carbohydrates like those found in vegetables and low-sugar fruits also keeps satiety levels and micronutrient intake high. Also, by saving your rice, pasta and potatoes for the last meal of the day, you also elevate serotonin production during the evening, relaxing the body and priming it for a restful sleep.
2. Front-load your calories
If you’re the kind of person that keeps track of their caloric intake on a regular basis, then making sure that you get the bulk of your calories in by noon should be a walk in the park! But if that sounds like too much work, you can always practice this by getting at least 50% of your total food intake (not meals) done and dusted by lunch. Since you’re typically more active during the day, the extra calories are more likely to be utilised as fuel rather than being stored as fat. Studies have also shown that eating in this fashion boosts leptin (the satiety hormone) and lowers ghrelin (the hunger hormone).
3. Employ time-restricted feeding (TRF)
Intermittent fasting is perhaps the most recognisable and widely utilised model of TRF. It’s health and metabolic effects are well-documented and can be practiced in various formats. During the fasting portion of the day, the body enters a ketogenic state and relies on its fat stores for energy. When it comes time to feed, the body is extremely sensitive to insulin and is fairly efficient at utilising calories for energy. While the basis of the TRF protocol is established upon optimising caloric intake to the body’s circadian rhythm, confining your meal timings to a fixed window in general is typically enough to elicit the effects of TRF. As a rule of thumb, don’t eat during a time when you should be asleep.
4. “Eat for what you are about to do, not what you’ve done”
As far as advice on eating habits go, it rarely gets any simpler than this. While this piece of wisdom may not apply as well when you’re on your regular training schedule, it certainly finds its place amongst holiday-makers. If you’ve got a long day of physical activity ahead of you, go on and eat a little more to fuel your adventures. But if it’s shaping out to be lazy day, then you don’t really have a need for all those extra calories, do you? Tailoring your caloric intake to the day’s activities that follow is easy, intuitive and pretty much guarantees that you won’t overeat at any point – as long as you’re being completely honest with yourself!
While these eating tips can be utilised by themselves or even hybridised, it is important to remember that the laws of thermodynamic remain constant. In other words, calories still matter. A constant surplus in caloric intake will result in weight-gain, regardless of how well or “clean” you eat. If you’re anticipating a good deal of heavy eating when you’re overseas, make sure you earn those calories by staying active!