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Travel guide: How to stay on track with your body transformation on holiday

Want to know how you can enjoy a refreshing summer break without sacrificing all your heard-earned progress?

If you’re in the middle of a fat loss journey, the prospect of a week of sun, sea and sand, or simply just an hour on the plane can spawn fresh levels of anxiety.

But don’t panic just yet!

With some careful preparation you can head into your holiday safe in the knowledge that your break won’t set back your fat loss efforts.

So sit back, relax and read on to learn everything you need to do with your training, diet and supplements to ensure your summer travels run smoothly.

Is your summer break the recipe for weight gain?

“How am I going to stay on plan?”

“How am I going to navigate an all-inclusive menu?”

We hear all too often from clients who are worried that what should be a blissful break from work may easily disrupt all their hard-earned progress.

And if you’re on the road frequently for work, you’ll be even more familiar with the challenges of travel. A few days on home soil before being thrust into another airport or service station can make it incredibly difficult to achieve any semblance of consistency.

At the other end of the scale, many people are simply ignorant of the small yet significant impact of incremental holiday weight gain year on year.

Researchers have found that adults gain an average of nearly one pound during their summer vacation [1].

This may sound like a miniscule change. But the problem is that most people never lose this weight after their break.

Combine this with Christmases, birthdays, and a sedentary lifestyle and you have a perfect recipe for ‘creeping obesity’.

And it’s far more common than you might think…

3 mistakes that can cause ‘creeping weight gain’ on holiday

What’s behind the problem of ‘creeping weight gain?’ It’s pretty self-explanatory really, isn’t it? The buffets, the margaritas on tap. Just one look at an ice cream and you’ve put on a pound.

You could be forgiven for failing to notice an additional pound here or there.

But over time, the cumulative effect of these small weight increases raises your risk of health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, among others.

If you’re making one of these mistakes, you could be more susceptible to travel-related weight gain.

1. Out of sight, out of mind

Many people fail to consistently track their weight before and after their holiday, which can easily trip you up.

It’s completely normal to gain a couple of pounds when away. Flying, late nights, alcohol and different food choices can all cause the body to retain additional water, which can make the scales shoot up.

And while it’s unlikely that you’ll notice anything significantly different in the mirror, if you go in blind, those few extra pounds can slowly creep up over time.

This is why it’s important to look at weight averages in the week or so before jetting off. If you’re 77kg on the day of the holiday and 80kg when you return, you have a clear goal that you can get a head start on once you’re home.

2. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

There’s a famous saying “start as you mean to go on”.

And if you’re ‘forced’ to eat a full English breakfast at the airport because you haven’t packed suitable options, you’re far more likely to give into the ‘screw it!’ mentality sooner rather than later.

3. Moving less, eating more

Your ‘maintenance’ calories, or how much you need to eat to maintain your current weight, fluctuates significantly depending on your how much you move day to day.

So if you go from 10,000 steps a day and training several times a week to lying on a sun lounger drinking sangria all day for a week, it’s no surprise that the scale will reflect that.

So does that mean it’s all doom and gloom when it comes to your summer break?

Far from it! Here are seven steps you can take…

7 tips to cruise your way through your summer break

It’s undeniable that travel food does not make sticking to a diet easier. But these seven tips and tools will help you stay on track, no matter what your trip looks like.

1. Preparation is key!

Humans thrive on structure and routine and it’s not uncommon for many of us to revert to bad habits when this is disrupted.

Taking the time to prepare a nutritious breakfast before the morning of your flight or researching food options in advance is likely to keep you on plan for the rest of the day.

And it also pays to scout out your options once you’re there. For example, could you scope out nearby restaurants in your travel destination to ensure you can continue to eat whole, nutritious foods while away?

2. Keep your meal times consistent

Research shows that the more you are surrounded by high-calorie foods, the more likely you are to over consume themii.

Now this might not come as too much of a bombshell.

But if your go-to destination is an all-inclusive, there’s only so long your willpower is likely to hold out if you’re surrounding unlimited, high calorie food options.

Keeping your meal times consistent with your normal routine and maximising your food quality will help to avoid mid-afternoon blood sugar crashes that send you reaching for the family-sized bag of tortillas.


3. Protein first

Feel frazzled when faced with making on the spot food decisions?

Always opt for your protein source first!

If you’re heading down for breakfast, opt for an omelette or poached eggs with smoked salmon over pancakes. For lunch, go for lean chicken breast and a salad over a burger and fries.

And if you’re travelling for work, there are still a ton of options to choose from. Stock up on travel-friendly options like biltong, protein powder in sealed sachets, or small pots of protein yoghurt. Bag up servings of nuts and berries or even crudites to snack on if temptation strikes.

4. Keep active

We’re not saying you need to spend all holiday in the hotel gym. But picking accommodation with fitness facilities can help to keep things ticking over during your trip.

Resistance training, in particular, is especially effective at ensuring your body is efficient at storing and utilising carbohydrates, making fat gain far less likely.

And with calorie intake likely to be higher, it’s important to make sure your activity levels don’t drop unnecessarily low.

If a hotel gym is out of the question, there’s still a tonne you can do in half an hour in a hotel room with just a band.

If you’re in need of inspiration, check out our quick hotel circuit below.

And if that’s still not possible, commit to a few lengths in the pool before you start your day or a 20-minute walk on the beach with the family.

The holiday hotel room workout

Travelling a lot and having trouble keeping up with your workouts? Stay fit during your trip with this hotel room circuit!

Try three rounds (move between exercises with no rest) and take two minutes to recover between sets.

These exercises don’t add a lot of additional load, so squeeze every drop out of each muscle as you perform the exercise. For best results, invest in a good quality resistance band you can travel with easily.

A1: Row with bands

Reps: 10-15

Tempo: 3-1-2-1

Tips: Anchor the band on a doorknob or other secure surface. Maintain a staggered stance (one leg front one leg back, knees slightly bent) and draw the band back, initiating the movement by drawing the shoulder blades together. Keep the shoulders depressed and make sure your elbows brush your sides as you row backwards.

A2: Reverse lunge

Reps: 10 each leg

Tempo: 4-1-2-0

Tips: Start with feet shoulder-width apart and take a step back (think train tracks not tight-rope). Flex the back and front knee to lower yourself as far as possible without your torso position changing. Play around with stance to ensure the front heel doesn’t lift off the floor and avoid rocking onto the back foot.

A3: Press-ups (on knees or feet)

Reps: 10-15

Tempo: 3-1-2-0

Tips: Start with arms slightly outside of shoulder width, with the elbow at a 45-degree angle to the torso. Keep your spine in a neutral position throughout.

A4: Bodyweight hip extension

Reps: 10-15

Tempo: 3-1-0-3

Tips: Lying flat on the floor, with the heels drawn towards your bum and arms flat on the floor, brace your abs and drive the hips towards the ceiling, squeezing your glutes at the top.

A5: Lateral raises with band

Reps: 10-15

Tempo: 2-0-2-2

Tips: Place the band under your feet and as you raise the handles to the side, keeping the shoulders, elbows and wrists aligned.

A6: Jumping jacks

Reps: 1 minute

Tempo: N/A

Tips: Open your legs until they are shoulder width apart and your arms at shoulder level. Reverse the movement. Find your tempo, stick with it and keep your landing controlled to protect the knees and lower back.

5. Maintenance is still progress

If you’re a frequent business flyer or you’re weeks away from a photoshoot, realistically you will need to keep things tight while you’re away. But if you’re working towards a longer-term goal, simply maintaining your weight while you’re on holiday is great progress.

Just think… would that have been you a year ago?

A holiday can often be a great motivational goal to keep you on track while you’re home, knowing that you can have a week’s ‘diet break’ where you can enjoy some foods you’ve missed (in moderation!) and take time to unwind.

Then, when you’re back on home turf, you’re refreshed and rejuvenated to get back to it with a new lease of life!

Read how Irina achieved her 15-week body.

6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

It may be ‘tradition’ to sink a few pre-holiday pints in the airport but turning up to the hotel hungover is not the best start if you’re serious about your results.

And it’s not just the extra calories from alcohol that are a gains-killer; dehydration can be a major contributor to falling off track.

Some symptoms of mild dehydration can resemble symptoms of hunger, leaving you reaching for the nearest snack rather than some precious H2O.

Air cabin humidity is also significantly lower than our typical indoor environment, making dehydration very likely. Set reminders to ensure you drink approximately 250ml of fluid every hour to offset this.

If you’re in for a long road trip, pack a large bottle to ensure you can keep up your water intake on the road (but don’t blame us if you need to stop for a call of nature!).

7. Set an alcohol and eating out budget

Alcohol can have several detrimental effects on your progress. Not only does alcohol contain hidden calories that contain zero nutrients, it also significantly lowers your inhibitions around food.

So to stop one drink turning into a bender, try these three tips.

a. Keep to a 2-3 drink limit

Faced with an all-inclusive bar, you may hear the alarm bells ringing. But setting yourself a limit for alcoholic drinks means you can enjoy yourself and still keep a clear head the next day.

If you’re travelling for work, ask yourself whether you’d drink alcohol during a normal work week.

Most bad food decisions occur after around two drinks so a 2-3 drink cap is a sensible time to stop.

b. Stick to spirits

Opting for spirits and diet mixers over beers and wines can help you save on calories.

An average pint of lager will set you back over 300 calories but a single measure of vodka and a diet mixer tots up to a mere 60 calories.

And if that really isn’t your tipple, could you half your alcohol intake by opting for a spritzer rather than a full glass of wine?

c. Have a glass of water on the side

Perhaps one of the biggest issues when opting for spirits is the fact they seem to go down so quickly!

Keep a glass of water on the side and kill two birds with one stone. Not only are you less likely to reach the all-important alcohol ‘danger zone’ much less quickly, you’ll also stay hydrated.

8. Pack your supplements!

Whether you’re on the road or on the plane, there’s no excuse for not taking your supplements!

Not only will they help with minimising water retention, reducing inflammation and improving electrolyte balance, they also serve as a powerful reminder to look after your health while you’re away.

For some big bang-for-your buck supplements, make sure to pack:

Longvida Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help to reduce blood pressure and symptoms of anxiety. It’s an absolute must in the suitcase!

UltraMag contains both magnesium and glycine that will help you manage the stress of shuffling through security and keeping the kids occupied through the flight.

Not only that, UltraMag can help to improve your sleep quality, which also has a positive effect on appetite and cravings.

B Complex If you’re travelling for work, you need to be able to perform at your best.

B vitamins play a crucial role in maintaining good health and wellbeing, directly impacting energy levels and brain function. Crucially, B vitamins also reduce fatigue and improve overall cognitive performance, making them an absolute must if you’re a frequent traveller.

The take-home

  • Being away from home brings a whole host of challenges if you’re working towards a fitness goal.
  • But whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your progress with these top tips.
  • And if you feel you need support and accountability to get you there, get in touch today to find out how we can help.

Read 8 tips from U.P. clients on how they stayed in shape while travelling.


[1] Cooper, J.A., Tokar, T., (2016). A prospective study on vacation weight gain in adults. Physiology & Behavior. 156, pp. 43-47.

[2] Vandevijvere, S., et al. (2015). Increased food energy supply as a major driver of the obesity epidemic: a global analysis. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 93 (7), pp. 446-456.

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