It’s finally time for your summer holiday, you’ve had it planned for months, saved up your pennies, spent hours in the gym and have been carefully watching what you are eating in preparation for that poolside snap. You can almost feel the sand between your toes, the salt on your skin and the ice-cold cocktail on your lips, yet all you can think about is how much tighter your jeans are going to fit on your way home, especially since you’ve pushed the boat out and gone all-inclusive. So how do you get your money’s worth without cancelling out all your dieting effort?
PhD Health and Performance Nutritionist, Holly Archer ANutr @theforkfullfoodie, shares her best tips to help stay in shape on holiday and avoid any unwanted extra baggage on the way home.
1. Intermittent Fasting (IF) – there are many different examples of IF protocols, however, probably the most suitable during a holiday is windowed eating whereby you fast for 16-20 hours and eat over an 4-8 hour period. By shortening the window of eating opportunity this can help reduce your daily calorie consumption and thus help you eat at calorie maintenance, to stay at the same weight, or even help create a deficit for fat loss. Windowed eating may work well for those suited to skipping breakfast or dinner, although it is not necessarily suitable for everyone e.g. those who do not cope well with intense hunger.
2. Use a smaller plate – this may help manage portion control and discourage over consumption as most of us tend to finish whatever is on our plate.
3. Eat mindfully – often it takes a while for our brain to register that we are no longer hungry. Try eating slowly, put your cutlery down in between bites and take a 10-minute break in-between your courses. Before revisiting the buffet, ask yourself ‘how hungry/full am I? Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being painfully hungry and 10 being painfully full). Avoid becoming excessively hungry, as this is when you are most likely to over consume, by eating little and often.
4. Protein at every meal – protein is known for its satiating effects thus a high protein diet can be extremely useful to help moderate calorie intake. Ditch the sugary cereals and croissants at breakfast for an omelette. Try a refreshing tuna or chicken salad for lunch and for dinner opt for some fresh fish or meat with roasted Mediterranean vegetables. Lean protein sources like a protein shake or Greek yogurt are great snacks to have throughout the day to keep hunger at bay.
5. Keep moving – in case you missed it check out the previous article by @JoshBeetFitness on 10-minute calorie burners. If high intensity is not your thing then go for a swim in the sea or a bike ride. Make use of the hotel activities such as aqua aerobics and tennis lessons. Take advantage of every opportunity to increase your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) e.g. use the stairs rather than the lift, go for a walk on the beach in between sunbathing, even make a sandcastle with your kids!
6. Stay hydrated – often people mistake thirst for hunger so make sure you drink plenty of fluids. if you’re not a fan of water then try infusing some cucumber or mint into it – super refreshing!
7. Make infrequent visits to the dessert tray – it’s unrealistic to say avoid desserts altogether and frankly, that doesn’t sound much fun on holiday because let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing ice cream in the sun? However, try to be mindful of your dessert consumption. There are often several dessert options at every meal in hotels so try and limit your desserts to your most active days and pick something lower in calories such as a solero ice cream or better yet share with someone.
8. Fill up on veggies – vegetables and salads are a great way to add volume to your meal without excessive calories. Add a decent portion of veggies to each meal (even breakfast!) and you will probably find you’re not even tempted by dessert.
9. Avoid drinking your calories – switch your fruity cocktail for clear spirits with diet mixers. We all love a cocktail or two but often they contain more calories than a dessert and liquid calories are usually less satiating, so you are more likely to over consume.
10. Remember what’s really important – holidays are a time to relax, soak up the sun, unwind and reset both mentally and physically so if you’re craving a burger or ice-cream then don’t deprive yourself of it. Diet breaks can be a useful and sometimes a necessary strategy if you have been dieting for a long time so a holiday might be the perfect time to relax your diet and start again when you return.