Summer’s in full swing and that means it’s vacation season! Beach trips, boat outings on the lake, or maybe a 2-week stay at Lake Como in Italy (seriously, you need to check it out). Depending on your choice some of you might come back leaner than when you left. This might seem puzzling because most of us are used to gaining weight (the fat variety) when we take a week or two to ourselves. The delicious adult beverages, tasty restaurants, and lounging around the beach/pool should have helped put some extra LBs on your frame but some how you defied the odds. Was the food “healthier” than what you’re used to eating? Maybe. Are you an exception to the laws of physics? Definitely not. So, what happened?
- “I ATE SO MUCH FOOD!” REALLY?
You went out to eat every single day and at every single meal? Sounds like a dream! By this very information most would assume you needed to wear stretchy Lululemon® yoga pants instead of those fitted jeans or dress. However, the pants are looser and the dress is falling off of you. Well, sorry to disappoint. You didn’t magically burn off the extra calories. In truth, you didn’t consume as much food as you thought.
Depending on where you spent your vacation (let’s say somewhere outside the US) it is more likely you ate foods higher in fiber. Fiber is great at satisfying your hunger hormone, ghrelin. Foods high in fiber tend to have more density and weigh more. This gives you the illusion you ate more than you normally do at home. In addition, high fiber foods help with bowel movements. In other words, you poop more often. Less food in your body, the less you will weigh.
- “THE FOOD IS ORGANIC AND LOCAL.” MAYBE, BUT THAT’S NOT IT
I’ve heard this explanation from clients who lost weight on vacation more times than I can count. If I were a betting man I would bet most of you who lost weight on vacation have used the phrase “the food is healthier in country X.” Let me make something very clear; yes, the food was more than likely better quality than what you are used to eating. I’ll give you that. However, while quality of food is important the quantity of food is more important.
There have been more than enough studies showcasing various diets (including a standard American diet….aka SAD diet) and compared the weight loss of participants using calories as the only control measure. Time and time again the studies show it doesn’t matter what type of diet someone is following, as long as they’re in a caloric deficit they lose weight. It’s nice to think that if the food is a better quality then we can eat more of it and still lose weight. Unfortunately, more variables need to be factored in aside from the quality of the food. Remember, quantity, quantity, quantity.
- “I DIDN’T WORKOUT. NOT EVEN ONCE!” YES, YES YOU DID
Oh, don’t worry. I firmly believe you didn’t workout on vacation. Unless you’re a religious fitness fanatic most people don’t workout on vacation. At best some people might get on a treadmill for a little bit every 2 days at a resort. Aside from that most people not working out is the standard. However, this tells me many of you still don’t realize how the majority of calories you consume are burned. Here’s a shocker for you….less than 30% of the calories you burn are due to your workout routine. That leaves 70% to remove! So, what happened on vacation?
You moved. You moved a lot. Remember, the majority of calories you burn come from your RMR (resting metabolic rate) and a good chunk is burned with your NEAT expenditure (Non-Exercise Activated Thermogenesis à calories you burn with every day-to-day movements). Did you visit a city in Europe? Well, they have great public transportation and most things are within walking distance. You probably did a great deal of site-seeing and averaged well over 10,000 steps a day. I remember visiting Florence 2 years ago and my step counter had me at over 35,000! You bet your firm behind I ate all the gelato I wanted! And the pasta….and the pizza….and a florentine steak (ok, back on track). Did you go to the beach in Mexico? I’m sure you burned a ton of calories with tequila volleyball (personal favorite), jet skiing, and dancing the night away. The point is, while you may not have done an official “workout”, you definitely moved your body….probably for hours.
During the Summer of 2017 I spent 30 days traveling Europe. I did a Dexascan before I left and another when I got back. During those 30 days I gained only 1% body fat (about 2lbs) and only lose .5lbs of muscle. How did I do that if I ate what I felt like eating and did whatever I wanted while I traveled? Well, here’s what I did….
- Performed “Deck of Cards” workout every 1 to 2 days. It’s effective and all body weight based. I brought a pair of suspension trainers in case I had a door or tree I could hang them on and get a better workout
- I walked everywhere. Yes, I used public transporation which was awesome but some places looked near by and I wanted to save money. So, I walked that extra half mile every chance I got. Plus, I gave myself my own tour of the city I was visiting
- I skipped breakfast and gorged at lunch and dinner. Again, this was to save money and splurge when I felt like it.
That’s it! The advice listed above is meant as a guideline. It may or may not work for you but at least it’ll give you a starting point. So, keep it simple. Move as much as you can, eat when you’re hungry, and try to squeeze a half decent body weight workout.
STAY FIT MY FRIENDS!