Maintaining Your Gains on Holiday

Holiday's are a time for relaxation and mental release, and if you have been working hard in the gym to get your bodyweight down, or reduce your overall body fat percentage, its useful to have a few simple strategies in mind to keep as many of the hard-fought gains whileyou are away.

Personally, I think if you come back from holiday in relatively the same condition as you left, you are winning. A week or a fortnights holiday really has the potential to set you back a few months if you are planning on going totally off the wagon while you are letting the hair down. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against jumping into a holiday with both feet and experiencing as much of the local produce as possible, and this is not one of those 'holier than thou', 'eat only cabbage' on holiday articles. However, if you are serious about making a big change in your body composition, and you have done a lot of work, with a lot more work to do, then it is imperative that you maintain a level of awareness of what and how much you are eating and drinking on holiday, as well as how much you are moving around on a day to day basis.

On holiday, the facts of weight loss/ fat lossstill remain the same as at home. You need to be expending more energy that you are taking on board, drink plenty of water, and eat quality food.

Below are 5 strategies that I have personally used myself to make the most of holiday's while maintaining as much of the progress as possible that I worked hard for in the gym.

1. Site see/ activities

Visiting a new country, city, or location means there is plenty to explore, see, and do. In Paris I walked so much that I had to wore the soles off my feet. One of our clients had a funny example of increased activity levels while on holiday when he showed me the pedometer reading of his smartphone the week after attending a big festival nearly 30,000 steps in one day! That’s about 30 kilometres covered! Anyway the point is get stuck into exploring the area that you are visiting, and seek activity based things to do to keep your energy expenditure nice and high to make space for the new foods and drinks you are likely surrounded by.

2. Research where you will get your food

Most holiday destinations have a local cuisine that has been in the area for many years. Most holiday destinations also have plenty of fast food joints, chain restaurants, and junk food outlets. When you arrive on site, it can be hard to find your way around, never mind locate the best value/ best quality food joints. This is where a bit of research can come in handy. TripAdvisor is full of reviews and descriptions of just about every restaurant in every city in the world these days. Find the places that suit your taste, your price, and your goal of eating high quality food, that will give you the experience of the local cuisine and help keep you on track with your goals. On a recent visit to the Basque Country, a friend of mine who is a chef over there gave us a list of restaurants recommendations, and it was one of the major highlights of the holiday going to places that we knew was going to serve good food.

3. Nail your breakfast

Wherever you are, make sure to absolutely nail your breakfast each day. Go local, and experience the local produce. There are often farmers market's in towns and villages that sell fresh fruit and veg, fish straight from the sea, local eggs and meats, and much more. In Antwerp, the local market was our regular stop-off for breakfast, and we got to experience very delicious combinations of food and coffee each morning that set us up for a great day.

4. Have water at hand

Staying hydrated on holiday is just as important if not more important than when you are at home. Warm weather means you loose more water through perspiration and getting dehydrated can make you super-thirsty and more likely to end up drinking more alcoholic or sugary drinks, and high fat/salty foods. Keep a bottle of water at hand!

5. Pick your big nights

If you know when the biggest nights of the holiday are going to be in terms of food and drink, plan an active day before the festivities kick off, and have something planned for the next day. Staying on track on holiday is not about forgetting to have a fun time, and with a damage limitation strategy before and after nights out, you can keep the energy balance somewhat in check and make it easier to get back into training upon your routine. Of course, you can always have a 10-20 minute workout routine at hand to do each morning on the holiday if you fancy keeping the training going while away.


This article is by Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS.

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