Summer is finally here! That means camping trips, long weekends up at the lake, and vacations to see family. As a nutrition coach, one of the questions I get most frequently is, “how do I stay on track when I’m traveling?” While I’m a big believer in diet breaks for physical and mental health (especially if you’ve been in a caloric deficit), if you’re just starting a new nutrition protocol or you’re seeing great progress and getting really close to your goals, you probably want to stay on track. Hitting your macros and sticking to your nutrition plan is definitely possible whether you’re on vacay or just on a business trip.
Here are my tips to help you stick to your plan on the go:
- Travelling and eating at restaurants go hand in hand. Eating food prepared by someone else comes with some guesswork and typically extra sodium, too. Be sure to stay hydrated to flush this extra salt and keep your digestion going strong. Aim to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day, which will also help offset dehydration from any vacation cocktails!
Break a Sweat
- Walk or bike any chance you get! Include physical activity in your vacation and travel plans like hiking, SUPing (stand up paddle surfing), skiing, surfing, etc. Or a quick body weight work out of sit ups, lunges, squats, and push ups can do the trick! The extra movement will burn a few calories and decrease the hurt when you get back to your home gym ;)
- Fill your day pack with a variety of healthy snacks so you’re ready for anything. I like to have Rx bars or epic bars, apples, jerky, and whey protein with me on the go. If you’re staying in a hotel, try to get a room with a mini fridge. Stop by the nearest grocery store and stock up on things like sliced veggies, hummus, Greek yogurt, fruit, and lean meats.
Do Your Research
- Pre-track your meals and research restaurants as much as you can. Look up nutrition info online before you go out to eat and watch out for hidden sodium and fats. Choose entrees with lean meats and lots of veggies that are steamed, baked, or grilled. When in doubt, keep your order simple and track the meal as its parts (i.e. order a salad with grilled chicken, dressing on the side → track as mixed greens, grilled chicken, and dressing). Restaurants are usually very accommodating; just ask for the meal to be prepared the way you want it and they usually say YES!
- Know you’re going to splurge tomorrow night at dinner? Plan your other meals that day accordingly. Typically, your indulgent meal will be high in carbs and fats so be sure to dial those back earlier in the day and front load your protein. Have a light breakfast of hard boiled eggs and veggies and a hearty salad with lean meat for lunch. Another option is Intermittent Fasting (IF) where you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 (i.e. eat from 11AM - 7PM and then fast until 11AM the next day). This allows you to not be so strict on your numbers at night because you are eating fewer meals in a much smaller window. This would be a good strategy to try out at home before you go and see if it works for you.
When you’re out and about, tracking your food will be less than perfect. Don’t sweat it if you go over your macro/calorie goals, just know where you went over and be more cognizant of that the next day! Bottom line, you won’t derail all of your health and fitness in one vacation. Remember to soak up the sun, reach for whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible, enjoy the people around you, and come home refreshed!
By: Caroline Ofenstein, CFL1, Pn1