Travel Weight Loss Tips: How to Diet on Vacation?
What’s the best way to get in shape while traveling? Should you even diet during a vacation?
Only you can decide the right balance between lifestyle and fitness. But we can help you make an educated decision based on your unique circumstances.
You’ll learn which trade-offs are worth it. And also find out which “sacrifices” are totally unjustified.
Note: This guide is meant for individuals trying to get in shape and recreational gym-goers. Professional athletes and people preparing for sports events may require a slightly different approach.
How to Set Up Realistic Diet Goals for Your Vacation
The best approach to fitness is entirely dependent on your goals. Here are the most common situations you may find yourself in while traveling:
- Trying to get shredded: actively dieting and lifting weights regularly. Probably working with a coach. Mentally and financially invested. A clear end goal in terms of body weight or body fat percentage
- Trying to bulk up – actively training and bulking. Clear fitness goals, most leeway in terms of food options. However, minimizing fat gain and regular training are very important.
- Trying to maintain a fit body – general fitness is important. However, not actively trying to gain or lose weight. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, without fussing all the time.
- Trying to lose a few pounds – actively dieting, might also be engaged in different activities. Weight loss is important. But there are other life priorities that need to be managed. Occasional trade-offs and setbacks are okay.
Based on your situation you’ll have more or less freedom in different areas:
Fun Time vs Being Strict: What Are the Trade-Offs?
Let’s examine each situation and determine what specific trade-offs you need to make. Note that these tips apply only to traveling. When you're back to your usual routine you may need to be a bit more rigid.
Trying to get shredded – You’re not a professional athlete. No need to say “no” to everything that is less than optimal given your goals. However, traveling is not an excuse. Focus evenly on training and nutrition. Be flexible and maintain 80% of your usual lifestyle.
- do some research in advance and pick your travel locations wisely
- make sure you have control over most meals (prep some of your food if needed)
- find gyms close by your location and avoid skipping training days
- limit eating out and be mindful about what you eat
- important: don’t be so rigid that you drive everyone crazy (enjoy your 20% freedom)
Trying to bulk up – You have a lot of freedom when it comes to food. However, this doesn’t mean overeating and gaining too much fat. Training will require more of your focus. Allow for some flexibility maintaining 70% of your usual lifestyle.
- don’t worry too much about food, just don’t overeat
- do some research and find convenient gyms close by
- be careful with alcohol and junk food
- enjoy your vacation, it shouldn’t be that hard to do that anyway
- important: maintaining your fitness habits is easier on a bulk, but this doesn’t make them less impactful.
Trying to maintain a fit body – Fitness is not a top priority at the moment, yet still important. Food-wise you have more options than someone on a diet. But less than someone bulking. In terms of training, you can afford to do half your usual routine. Maintain 60% focus on fitness.
- be mindful of your eating habits
- try to keep up with your training (skipping 1 to 3 sessions is fine)
- limit alcohol consumption and junk food
- stay active, engage in sports if possible
- important: maintain most of your fitness habits without making your vacation boring
Trying to lose some weight – You’re mostly focused on the diet. This gives you more freedom than most fitness folks. Have fun, but never completely ignore your fat loss goals. It’s almost an even 50% split between diet and fun. Progress might halt, but make sure you don’t start gaining.
- focus on having a good time without losing control
- track your food intake occasionally to make sure you don’t go overboard
- damage control if needed (fast or limit meals during a certain time of the day)
- be careful with alcohol (no binge-drinking)
- ramp up your activity (sightseeing, hiking, swimming, etc)
- important: avoid or minimize potential damage while having fun
How to Deal with Social Occasions, Parties & Family Visits
You have a lot of freedom when it comes to dealing with family and friends. Talk to them. Explain what you’re trying to achieve and why it’s important for you. Your close ones can be powerful allies. Avoid having them unintentionally undermining your progress due to ignorance.
However, there will be times when you need to decline invitations and say “no”. You might even disappoint people. But there will also be periods when you’ll have fewer restrictions. Flexibility and rigidity lie on a continuum. Where you find yourself depends on our current priorities.
Let’s say you’re at the end of a cutting phase and getting shredded is a top priority. You might have to:
- decline invitations or leave early
- request specific meals or bring your own food
- exhibit eating habits that may look strange to others
- limit fun time to squeeze in a quick workout
- avoid certain activities and games
- limit or don’t consume any alcohol
Sometimes you have fewer restrictions to worry about. Other times you’re just not that invested in the fitness lifestyle. This is when social events will make little to no difference.
How to Manage Out-of-Town Work Meetings & Conferences?
Work-related events can be tricky to deal with. You rarely have the luxury of canceling or changing the time of a meeting. Even if your boss and clients are sympathetic with your fitness goals they need you to be reliable during work hours.
Your best option is to prepare and adjust to your work schedule. Here a few tips:
- meal prep or have some emergency clean snacks
- adjust meal timing to avoid bad situations
- make good use of hotel gyms or do body weight workouts
- research upcoming events and work-related travels
- have a backup plan, don’t wing it on the fly
- if you have to eat out stick to healthy low-calorie options
- accept that things won’t always be perfect, but do your best
Sometimes skipping a couple of gym days and having a few “bad” meals is fine. As mentioned a few times already, base your strategy on the importance of your goal.
Travel-Friendly Foods and Meal Options
Here are a few great food options when you’re traveling:
- snacks: protein bars, whey, casein, or vegan protein powders
- meats: beef jerky, lunch meats and cold cuts, smoked meats
- dairy: cottage cheese, quark, skyr, greek yogurt, muscle milk
If you’re trying to lose weight go for low fat and low-calorie options.
- fruits: apples, bananas, berries, or other ready-to-eat fruits
- premade salads: all kinds
- gains: rice cakes and whole grain crackers
- sandwiches, wraps, burritos and similar: chicken, turkey, rice and bean, vegan
- keep it simple: lean meat and veggies, min seasoning (mayo, guacamole, etc)
If you’re struggling to gain weight you can add some processed fast food. But most people are better off limiting calories and sticking to whole foods.
- nuts: all kinds
- seasoning and add-ons: olive oil or avocado/guacamole in premade salads
You’ll rarely have to go out of your way to include extra fats. Most protein and carb sources contain plenty of fats. Often you’ll even need to limit fat content.
Until next time!
~Niki, Fitness Mastery Coach