Travelling has the ability to disrupt our usual routine far more than we would like. Whether you are on holiday with friends or away for a work trip the chances are that you will not be training regularly and eating ‘clean’ will be harder than usual. Whilst it is important to relax and switch off from the usual day to day routine, I think it is important to maintain good nutrition habits and would not suggest going any longer than 2 to 3 days without paying attention to what is going inside your body. In the same way, you can get away with 2 to 3 days of no training, but any longer than this and joints start to stiffen up, energy starts to dip and mood will probably be affected. On the topic of rest weeks, I firmly believe they are important but would never suggest doing nothing for a week. Regular stretching and daily mobility drills should be practiced with the occasional light weights session and active recovery cardio session at low intensity. Your diet can work in the same way.
Your day should start with water and Green Tea as it is full of anti oxidants, reducing the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals are known to play a role in aging and all sorts of diseases. It is also great for aiding fat loss due to its high caffeine content. Most hotel rooms have a kettle, so this is a realistic aim. Coffee as a first meal is not ideal due to dehydration. Drink a glass of room temperature water and take your fish oils whilst the kettle boils, then sip the green tea as you wait for your friends or partner to get ready for breakfast. Fish oils have many benefits including fat loss and joint care, two things required on most holidays. By the time breakfast arrives you will be alert and raring to go and will be able to make better food choices due to your hydration levels having been improved.
For breakfast, the biggest missing component is usually protein, so add a protein shake to your meal or even better some mixed nuts and seeds for a healthy dosage of fat. Insulin levels are important to control at all stages of the day but arguably none more so than after sleep. Spiking insulin levels with traditional breakfast based Carbohydrates such as Corn Flakes is a slippery slope towards weight gain. Fats and protein are a far better option for optimal body composition (unless you are already lean or a hard gainer) so avoid the cereals and reach for bacon, eggs and vegetables or more realistically a protein shake, nuts and an omelette.
Snacks should be under your control as you can plan them to fill gaps between meals. If you wait until hunger strikes there could be a problem! Be sure to carry a piece of fruit with you and a high fibre protein bar or flapjack so you can keep on track for your body composition goals and keep energy levels high.
Lunch time can go either way, If you are planning an afternoon workout, have a low carbohydrate lunch and use dinner as the biggest meal of the day. If you’ve already trained, make sure you refuel here. If you have followed the plan so far, It should be much easier to make a wise choice at lunch and go for some nutritious food, however if you had a carbohydrate heavy breakfast and skipped snack time, you will be hangry! This is where willpower runs out and you reach for more carbohydrate, temptation usually wins.
One of the things we struggle to eat enough of on holiday are vegetables, when overseas it is tough to find steamed broccoli, kale and cabbage! Our bodies will suffer as a result of this lack of nutrition. The simplest way to get around this is to consume a greens powder. Look for one containing things like Spirulina and Wheatgrass as an added to boost to spinach and broccoli which are commonly found in green drinks. The additions will boost your immune system and help to keep you energised.
When dinner comes around, just remember to reward yourself based on the day you’ve had. If you’ve stuck to the plan and trained, enjoy yourself. If not and you are serious about your goals, then ease off on the extra alcohol and dessert. You can certainly enjoy your holidays and special meals…you can give yourself a treat when you deserve, but be respectful of your body. Your gut is not a garbage disposal, your belly is not a dumpster for diet disasters, your body is your vessel for 80, 90, and hopefully 100 years of life…Feed it real food.
As long as you apply these principles whilst away, are able to move around and keep active, enjoy the rest and recovery your body needs, you should come back feeling like a brand new person raring to go.