Worried About Gaining Weight On Vacation?

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I have recently come back from vacation nine days in the Czech Republic, where I was born. I was mainly visiting family over there, as well as spending three days sightseeing in the capital city Prague.

And I definitely enjoyed myself from a food and drink perspective, but I avoided putting on any weight because of the tips that I’m about to share with you.

Gaining Weight On Vacation Doesn’t Have To Be Inevitable

If you’re about to go away and you’re worried about weight gain on vacation, I’m gonna tell you what I did and how you can avoid gaining weight on holiday.

You Don’t Need A Gym

The main message I wanna get across here is that you don’t need to go to a gym while you’re on vacation.

I was actually staying in a cottage in the mountains of the Czech Republic for most of my trip.


And then I spent three days in a hotel where they did have a gym, but I didn’t go there.

Some of my clients, if they’re frequent business travellers, they do use them because they can squeeze in a quick workout in between meetings or at the start of the day or at the end of the day. But if you’re only going on a short vacation, one to two weeks, you don’t really wanna be spending your time in the gym.

You really wanna see as much as you possibly can in that short time, I’m gonna tell you what you can do instead.

But hey, some people do like to fit in the gym first thing in the morning and then maybe go about their day. And maybe if the weather is not that great, you might just say, oh, I can do 45 minutes in the gym. So that’s an option as well. It’s not one that I often do.

Be Active

But it is important to be active. If you’re in a new place, then take the time to explore on foot. If you spend hours and hours walking each day as we did in Prague. We basically only stopped for our meals or little snacks like ice cream. So you are actually are burning off quite a lot of calories if you’re doing tons of walking.

Now, normally if you’re not on vacation, you probably don’t have time to do five or six hours of walking a day, but probably on holiday, you will get the chance to do that because that’s usually what your holiday’s about exploring and checking things out.

Try Other Physical Activities

I really enjoy doing other physical activities on holidays.

On this trip, we did a 30 kilometer mountain bike ride with my cousin in the mountains of the Czech Republic. So it was a pretty solid workout, several hours on the bike. And we finished it off with a nice meal in the evening. And of course some beer.

Czechs really like beer.

Nutrition Makes The Biggest Impact

Now, remember that generally about 80 to 90% of your weight is going to be down to the food that you take in. So nutrition is super important, but on vacation, you’re gonna wanna try new things and you’re probably gonna have more calorie dense, delicious foods than you normally have at home.

Don’t go all the way to Italy and not have a gelato or go all the way to France and not have a crispy baguette. It seems like a waste to go all that way and not try something new and a little bit different.

You don’t have to live on chicken breasts and vegetables to stay lean on your vacation.

Managing Your Alcohol Intake

I certainly wasn’t gonna go to Prague without enjoying a Pilsner beer or two most days when we were in the capital city, all we did was walk around and then pause. So normally I would have one beer with my lunch and then one to two beers with my dinner. And that’s definitely not something that I do at home. And it’s not something that I carried on when I got back. But given how much walking we were doing in those three days, it actually worked out ok.

Alcohol can definitely be part of your holiday. There’s no need to exclude it, although you might wanna keep it to a decent range so that you enjoy all of your holiday and not have to spend that second day in bed.

Keep Portion Sizes Small

While it’s good to try a bunch of new things and enjoy things like ice cream on a summer day on vacation, smaller portion sizes are a good idea.

So you don’t need to have the biggest triple scoop ice cream. You can just have a smaller amount. And this goes for when you’re at home as well. But on vacation, you wanna try a little bit of everything and there seems to be so much to try. So try little amounts, split it with your family or your friends, whoever you’re traveling with, and then you can keep the calories down, but still have that enjoyment.

Usually it’s those first few bites of a food that are really enjoyable anyway. So you get to enjoy those and you get to enjoy more things. If you keep the portion sizes small, I think it’s possible to enjoy these foods without going totally overboard. It’s okay to just have half and leave the rest, or maybe one of your family members wants to eat it. So only eat what you really enjoy and leave the rest.

Just try to get enough so that you are satisfied. You’re not gonna be hungry and then move on.

Have Protein With Each Main Meal

It’s a good idea to include protein with each of your main meals.

If you’ve got a breakfast buffet, for instance, then you might have some eggs or some smoke salmon or some yogurt, which has a little bit of protein. A little bit of cheese. Maybe if it kind of put it all together, it’s a decent amount of protein. And that keeps you a bit more satisfied for later on in the day.

Then when you hit lunch, you choose your chicken or your fish or whatever lean meat that you want.

And then maybe for dinner, you decide, “Hey, I’m gonna have that steak today. And I’m gonna have a smaller piece of that steak.” And that means that the calories are gonna be a bit more manageable.

Should You Track Calories On Vacation?

Now, calorie counting can be an effective way of losing weight, but when you’re on vacation, it can be really challenging to do. Often you’re eating out and having foods that you’re not familiar with. So trying to enter them into your app and figuring out how many calories and what the macros are, probably isn’t very practical.

And quite frankly, it’s gonna take a lot of the enjoyment out of your holiday.

Follow Some Basic Nutrition Guidelines

I think you can just stick to those basics, have protein and then fill up on lots of vegetables and have fruit as well. And then you can enjoy smaller portions of these calorie dents, really hyper palatable foods.

If you’ve been tracking calories for a while, you probably have some awareness of how many calories a food has anyway. So if you look at something that’s battered and has a lot of oil, then you know, it’s gonna be a lot of calories.

So just have a small portion and move on without guilt.

Should you track calories on vacation? I don’t think so, but just be mindful of approximately the amount of calories you’re probably having.

Eating On The Plane

Eating on the plane can be particularly tricky. So your trip over, and then you trip back there. Usually there isn’t a great selection of foods to choose from. And flying can actually mess with your digestive system a little bit. So you might feel a little bit off.

I sometimes feel really hungry!

Very greasy or creamy foods tend to not digest very well. So it’s best to avoid those on the plane, just for the sake of not having an upset stomach. Try to eat lightly just small portions, because that’ll be easier for your digestion. Particularly if you are dealing with a big time change as well. Because then you are eating at times that your digestive system isn’t used to eating. But by eating these smaller portions, you’re keeping yourself satisfied, but you’re less likely to take in as many calories.

Bringing Snacks For Travel

You might wanna bring some really easy snacks, like some fruit or nuts, or maybe chopped vegetables.

If you’re really organized, it can be a good option. If you find that you get very hungry and then you’re, you’re not gonna have really good options on the plane or in the airport. So you might wanna pack some stuff to bring with you.

Protein bars, if they’re low calorie and reasonably low in sugar can be a good option as well for some people.

I used to pack food, but I tend not to do it anymore. I’m just not organized enough before my trips. And I don’t really bother. I just do the best I can with the food selection at the airport and then on the plane.

How I Prevented Myself From Gaining Weight On Vacation

So I was able to spend nine days away from home on a vacation, really enjoy myself. So I’d had ice cream. I had beer. I had lots of delicious salmon. And I really enjoyed myself in terms of food and little treats as well.

But I was able to maintain my weight.

In the past,  always put on weight on vacation. If it was one to two weeks, I’d always be binging on so much food. I would have tons and tons of chocolate here. I had smaller portions of chocolate, but because I tend to not restrict myself when I’m at home. When I’m on vacation, I really just try the things that I really wanna try and enjoy all my particular favourites, but I have smaller portions. And then of course, I also try to be active as well.

Will You Lose Your Muscle Mass On Vacation?

And don’t worry that you’re gonna lose all your muscle mass on vacation. If you’ve been strength training regularly, and you’re gonna take a week or two off, it may actually be good for your muscles to have that little bit of rest.

You can even call it a deload and make it sound really official!

And then your muscles will rest. And then you can come back to it when you return back home.

In fact, if you’ve been pushing the weights really hard right before your vacation, then it might just be the rest that your body needs.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 8-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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