It’s all about how you treat your body. It’s proper rest and proper nutrition.
Worried about ruining your fat loss progress during the summer holidays?
This is the article for you.
First of all, being nervous is a good thing:
Second of all, being nervous is completely normal.
You’re going away from home, maybe somewhere you’ve never been before.
Your routine is going to be all over the place.
The healthy habits you’ve carefully crafted for months will need a radical change.
It’s OK to feel a little overwhelmed.
Fortunately, maintaining your fitness habits is far from impossible… if you treasure the five steps I’ll cover in this article.
This approach is based on my recommendations to my own clients, who end up not only maintaining their results like pros, but also having a smashing time.
Let’s get right into Step 1.
Step 1: Don’t diet.
Unless you have a strict deadline – for example, you’re competing in a bodybuilding show – you don’t need to be in a caloric deficit when you’re on holiday.
Fat loss requires a certain degree of rigidity that’s best achieved when you’re in a familiar environment and you can follow a structured daily routine.
On the other hand, holidays are the perfect time for a diet break.
Importantly, a diet break isn’t throwing everything you know about nutrition out of the window for a week and eating your weight in pizza and ice-cream.
The purpose of a diet break is to increase your calories from a deficit to maintenance, so that you can maintain your current bodyweight within a range of a few pounds.
When coaching a client, I consider a 2% increase or decrease in weight to be within the definition of “maintenance”. For example, if a client is averaging 150 lbs before their diet break, their maintenance range is going to be 147 to 153 lbs.
The extra calories you get during a diet break, will make it far easier to manage your nutrition and enjoy yourself during your time away. You can quite literally have your cake and eat it!
Some of my clients also choose to take a break from tracking calories. However, being able to maintain your weight without tracking requires an advanced knowledge of nutrition and of your own body that you may not have yet.
As a rule of thumb, I don’t recommend this approach to a client unless:
Step 2: Have fewer meals.
If you’re anything like me and you’re trying to maximise your gains, you may be eating protein four or more times per day.
However, the more food decisions you have to make, the more challenging it is to make the right ones, especially on holiday, surrounded by exotic food and drinks.
At the same time, you don’t want to eat only one meal a day, or you may find yourself starving for the remaining twenty-three hours, which is often a recipe for overeating.
In my experience, three meals per day is a sweet spot to keep the number of food decisions to a sustainable minimum and to maintain steady hunger and energy levels throughout the day.
Step 3: Focus on calories.
By now, you might have caught onto the fact that my main suggestion is to simplify holiday nutrition as much as possible. For this reason, focus on calories only and allow yourself to be more flexible with your macros.
Sure, it’d be great to hit your protein, carbs, and fats on the nose… but not if this starts driving you crazy at a time when you’re supposed to be relaxing and having fun.
Moreover, if your goal is to maintain weight, your main priority is the total amount of calories you’re eating. The macronutrient distribution of said calories, whilst important, isn’t going to affect fat gain, loss, or maintenance to any meaningful degree.
To be clear, I’m not recommending you forget protein exists, but you don’t need to lose your mind over it. Your muscles won’t shrink and shrivel if you fall short of your protein target by 10 to 20g for a few days.
Besides, if you’ve been managing your nutrition for some time, chances are you’re pretty used to eating some protein with most meals. Therefore, even if you don’t track it super accurately for a week or two, I’d be willing to bet that your daily protein will likely be within a reasonable range.
As for carbohydrates and fats, their ratio is arguably more important when you’re training. Carbs are the main fuel for resistance training, so higher-carb, lower-fat nutritional approaches tend to work best for people who lift weights regularly to transform their physique, like you, me, and my clients.
However, many people either deload or don’t train at all on holiday, so you won’t need to worry too much about eating a specific amount of carbs.
Again, as long as your calories are within your maintenance range, you won’t gain any body fat, even if your carbs to dietary fats ratio becomes skewed towards fats during this time.
You might make the argument that eating more dietary fat comes at the expense of your fibre intake, which can be true if you do a complete 180 and go full keto. However, if your carbs are only a little lower than normal, but you’re still eating produce and whole grains with most meals, your fibre intake is unlikely to plummet too drastically.
To reiterate my initial point, this step is about simplifying nutrition, not about ignoring all the healthy eating guidelines you know and living off of French fries and cereal.
Step 4: Don’t splurge at every meal.
Although your maintenance calories are higher than your fat loss calories, you can’t expect to maintain weight if you’re eating waffles and bacon for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and tacos and cake for dinner.
You also don’t have to avoid every single food that might not check the “healthy and nutritious” box.
Instead, choose a single special eating occasion per day.
If you really think about it, you don’t look forward to every single meal you have on holiday. For example, hotel breakfasts aren’t usually all that exciting. You’re also often on the move during the day, so lunch might be a grab-and-go kind of deal.
Why waste your calories on these situations when you could save them for a meal that you can truly make the most of?
This could be pizza for dinner, a fancy cocktail drink, or a cup of formidable Italian ice-cream (I’m from Italy; I would know about formidable ice-cream).
Be mindful of your food choices and don’t go overboard.
If your special eating occasion is an entire buffet, you’re going to feel stuffed, bloated, and uncomfortable for hours afterwards. Moreover, you’ll be left with “poverty calories” for the rest of the day.
To avoid this, stick to just one “special food”, without going for seconds.
Lastly, to make planning easy, pick the same time for your special eating occasion every day whenever possible. In general, most people sit down and relax at the end of the day, so dinner is usually my clients’ preferred choice.
Step 5: Budget your calories wisely.
The easiest way to manage your calories so that you can enjoy your daily special eating occasion is to keep all other meals as close as possible to the calorie-controlled, nutritious meals you’d make at home.
If you can, keeping them the same every day will also make tracking their caloric content super easy and stress-free.
For instance, for your hotel breakfast, you could have boiled eggs, a banana, and some toast; or a cup of low-fat Greek yogurt with oats and berries.
A chicken salad sandwich or fresh seafood salad are both great on-the-go lunch ideas.
Does this work?
The proof is in the pudding (pun intended).
This is some feedback I got from a client who recently flew from America to Europe for an eleven-day holiday between Italy and Greece:
Whilst it’s certainly great that he can be “fitness” and still enjoy his daily dose of gelato, my favourite part about his message is that, in one of his last check-ins before the trip, he told me he was very worried about ruining his progress and losing control over food.
And yet, his words here exude confidence, relaxation, and enjoyment.
If you want to feel the same way, start with the steps outlined in this article.
For best results, you could join my team of legends by applying for online coaching, so you can start transforming not only your physique, but your mindset, too.
Thanks for reading. May you make the best gains.
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An online fitness coach who likes bodybuilding, superheroes, and bread.
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