Summer’s just around the corner which means it’s almost vacation time, and chances are most people will be spending time away from the fortress they call home. I call it a fortress because home is where you have all the armaments you need to maintain the physique you’ve fought so hard to attain. But short of packing your house in a suitcase, how do you maintain your physique when away for extended periods of time? How can you stay on track when healthy food options are so limited?

Obviously you have the option of taking your food with you. However, vacations are meant to be relaxing, and carrying your food everywhere you go isn’t fun. Plus, you could find yourself paying through the nose for excess baggage charges.

So here are five tips to make sure you come back from your vacation looking just as trim as when you left.


1. Try outsmarting yourself

In a study where one group was given the choice to eat as much as they wanted from any food group, but were told to choose just two food varieties, while another group were told to choose from all the variety of foods available, the group that had a limited choice of varieties always ate less food overall.

Thus, if you are at a buffet or party, it would behoove you to just pick fewer food varieties (two is ideal) as opposed to picking more which results in you eating a lot more food than you wish.


2. Avoid extra carbs when you’re drinking

Odds are some of you are going to be drinking alcohol while away, but it doesn’t have to ruin your physique if you keep in mind the hierarchy of oxidation rule. This is the order in which protein, carbohydrates, fats and alcohol are broken down by the body.

Normally the body gives priority to the oxidation (breaking down) of protein then carbohydrates and finally dietary fats. When alcohol is consumed alongside food, the body prioritizes the oxidation of the alcohol, which means the other macronutrients have to wait their turn – and some are even stored.

The best course of action is to decrease caloric intake if you plan on consuming more alcohol than norm. The easiest macronutrient to curb is carbohydrates. Try telling your self you won’t consume carbs after a particular time in the day, say, four o’clock, thus limiting your chance of gaining fat.


3. Start with protein first

Study after study has shown insulin’s role in suppressing appetite, and it’s well known that protein stimulates the production of this hormone. In some of the studies, subjects who consumed whey protein before eating were less hungry than those who didn’t have any whey.


4. Skip on the appetizers and opt for vegetables instead

Besides the multitude of beneficial micronutrients inherent in vegetables, greens also serve to attenuate your appetite because of their high fiber content.

Consuming vegetables before carbohydrates means your stomach is expanded before the carbs enter the equation. The physical stretching of your gut sends signals to your brain, via the hormone cholecystokinin, telling you your stomach is full. The fiber in vegetables also slows down the gastric emptying of food thus keeping you satiated longer. A great combo would be consuming protein and veggies before carbohydrates to double the reduction of appetite.


5. Eat slower

It generally takes 20–30 minutes before your brain registers that you have food in your stomach. This means the faster you eat the more you eat. It’s prudent to take your time during your meal ensuring your brain has enough time to register satiety which in turn means you’ll eat less overall.

There are more tips to keep in mind such as eliminating mixers from your alcoholic drinks to reduce calories and drinking water alongside your meals as opposed to when you’ve finished eating. However, the aforementioned five tips should help ensure that you return from your time off without too much unwanted baggage.

So enjoy your vacation.


Find health and fitness advice and more in every issue of TRAIN magazine.