Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Strategy: Top 10 travel tips to reduce the gain.

Are you one of the lucky ones that's going on vacation?

Though I haven't seen the studies to prove it, I've heard that the average weight gain during a week of cruising nears 7lbs and certainly I've seen plenty of folks gain 4-5lbs at a weekly all-inclusive.

Those are some hefty numbers as to gain 1lb a week you need to eat at least 3,500 more calories than you burn and most folks, especially folks who may have weight to lose, are likely burning between 1,800 and 2,800 calories daily meaning to gain those kinds of numbers you'd need to be consuming in the neighbourhood of 6,000 calories a day.

That's the caloric equivalent of eating a McDonald's Quarter Pounder each and every waking hour from 8am to 11pm.

Of course once you factor in alcohol, buffets, and disorganized eating that's all too easy.

So how to get by?

Here's my top ten list of travel strategies:

1. Eat every 2-3 hours and make sure to get breakfast within 30-60 mins of waking up. Not eating frequently and leaving too long between meals and snacks leads to evening hunger. Hunger plus alcohol plus vacationing plus a buffet leads to boat loads of calories.

2. Control breakfast. Poached eggs don't have added calories from oils or butter. Those with 2 slices of toast with a light smear of butter along with a large plate of fresh fruit is still an indulgent tropical breakfast, but not calorically.

3. Eat your fruit, don't drink it. Or at least don't drink it regularly. Yes, fresh squeezed juices are a wonderful indulgence but figure that the tall glass of orange juice you just downed had the caloric equivalent of more than 3 oranges and drop per drop the same number of calories and sugar as Coca Cola. That giant pina colada? If it's one of the giant ones I've had each one's packing a Big Mac of calories.

4. Include protein with every meal and snack.

5. Try the a la carte restaurants rather than the buffets.

6. Booze after the meal. Alcohol is an appetite stimulant. If you can hold off on the drinking until after you've eaten you're less likely to over do it.

7. Consider packing your own snacks or buying them from the hotel gift shop. Prepackaged nuts are readily available and don't melt by the pool.

8. Use your minibar to store fruits, cheeses and yogurts pilfered from the buffet.

9. Grilled seafood is your friend.

10. As per yesterday's post - it's better to indulge thoughtfully and gain a pound or two than to be excessively strict and have you one step closer to abandoning your weight management effort altogether.

Have a great trip!

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  1. Excellent post - as a program leader for Weight Watchers this is the kind of advice we give our members.

    I would add one thing to this and that is to make a conscious decision BEFORE you go. Some will want to lose or maintain yet, it is OK to say: "Hey, I don't get away on vacation often and I am going allow myself some treats and deal with losing it after I return".

  2. Here's the formula for cruise-induced weight gain:

  3. It's true people tend to weigh atleast 5 pounds more after the vacation. Proportions and keeping your stomach full every 3 hours is the trick. And do a lot of physical activities.

  4. I like the food recommendations (grilled seafood /slobber) and the food source suggestions (ie. buffet pilfering). This is quite helpful.

  5. Great post! Vacationing or any time those tips will come in handy

  6. We travel to Cuba each year and I always lose about 5 to 8 pounds while we are there, for a number of reasons:

    1) We request a room in an area of the hotel that is far from the beach. We request that spot because it is close to the kids' centre (which is a great spot to send the kids for 15 minutes while we get ready for the day or for dinner), but it also means we get lots of exercise walking to and from the beach with all of our gear.

    2) We only eat 3 times per day - i.e. when the buffet is open. We bring snacks to the beach for the kids because they get hungry in between, but I only eat at actual meal times. That means no lattes, no cookies, no late night snacks, etc. There is no food in our rooms other than kid snacks that I don't really like, so if I'm hungry, I have to wait until meal time.

    Personally, I find it easier to make healthy choices at the buffet than at the a la carte restaurants. I find the a la carte places are generally several courses and have limited selection, so I always end up having to choose something that I don't really want to have.

  7. Great tips, Yoni! A lot of my clients use travelling as an excuse for why they can't lose weight and instead of saying, "OK, let's put this on hold", it's great to at least have a few tips to prevent too much weight gain during vacation.

  8. Anonymous3:47 pm

    Went to the Dominican Republic for two weeks and I was worried that my usual weight gain would double. I took some of your advice. I love breakfast but kept it reasonable, avoided smoothies and fruit juice unless there was rum in it too.( I'm not a big drinker) Since desserts are repeated often at the buffet I took only one small square knowing that I could try a different one the next meal. I tried to fill at least half my plate with fruit and veg. I gained less than I usually do after a one week trip and will do even better next trip.