1. Going in with the right expectations will help you make it very clear for yourself. Losing weight while traveling might sound tempting, but maybe you just want to maintain?
2. You don’t have to be perfect at all, but stay consistent.
3. Creating new habits is difficult when you’re on-the-go. So it’s probably going to come down to establishing healthy habits before you leave. And then putting them to the test once you’re traveling.
Are you often on-the-go and do you wonder if it’s even possible to lose weight while traveling?
It’s hard, right?
You’re on a roll and then you go on a trip with your friends or partner. What should you eat? What if there’s no gym nearby? Will you lose all of your gains?
You visit your parents and don’t know what’s for dinner. You want to eat healthy, but also don’t want to ‘bother’ anyone by asking them to weigh your food.
It’s relatively easy to keep up with your routines and habits when you’re at home. But just HOW do you stay on track when you’re away?
In this short article I’ll share 7 tips that helped me lose weight while going around Europe for 3 weeks.
Go in with the right expectations
First, let me ask you a question.
What are your expectations? (There’s no wrong answer).
I suppose it really depends on your goals and how much/how long you’re away for. But are we talking about an occasional weekend trip, or do you travel multiple times a month for work?
Going in with the right expectations will help you make it very clear for yourself. Losing weight while traveling might sound tempting, but maybe you just want to maintain?
And by the way even if you do end up gaining a little. There’s a good chance that most of it will just be water weight that comes back off within the first week of being back home.
Imperfection and consistency
I’m going to ask you to be OK with being imperfect here. Because of course it will be much different compared to being home, preparing your own meals.
But don’t worry, as long as you remain consistent you will be absolutely fine.
Personally, I was imperfect as hell. But I stayed consistent, kept my nutrition in check and lost weight even though I didn’t get to decide on most meals, nor did I cook any of them.
7 Things that’ll help you lose weight while traveling
- Protein with every meal
This one should be a non-negotiable anyway, since protein is the most important macronutrient. Keeping your protein in check will help keep you full, maintain muscle, and has many other health benefits.When eating out, look for a meal that has a specific protein source. Think meat, fish, tofu, etc.
You can also go to a local store to stock up on some easy-to-bring protein snacks. Think nonfat greek yogurt, Skyr (my favorite!), cottage cheese, protein milks/shakes/bars, beef jerky, soy sausages, dried fish, canned tuna, or lean deli meats like turkey and chicken.
- Fruits and veggies
My usual recommendation for fruits and veggies would be 1-3 servings of fruit and 2-4 servings of veggies per day. But even if you hit 2 of each per day, you’re killing it.This provides you with lots of micronutrients, water, and fiber to keep you full.
My go-to’s were grapes and watermelon as snacks, and basically any type of vegetable I could get my hands on during my actual meals.
- Zero-kcal drinks
Hydration is important because water is needed for every single process that goes on in your body. You basically ARE half water.Now there’s nothing wrong with liquid calories per se. But going for zero calorie options can allow you to keep your calorie budget in check.
I stuck to water, coffee, tea, sparkling water, and diet sodas.
There are a lot of myths around diet sodas. They’re supposed to ‘mess up your gut’, spike insulin by ‘tricking your body’, make you gain fat. All stuff that doesn’t really seem to be the case.
On the contrary, there’s even research that suggests that diet sodas can help you lose weight (1).
Side note: carbonated drinks also fill you up a little more, which can be useful!
- Track (most of) your meals
Yep I know, an unpopular one. But hey don’t leave just yet. Tracking is not a must, but it can still be a very useful tool.Now whether you will track or not is up to you to decide. If you’d like to test your intuitive eating skills while you’re away, go for it. However, you could also do like I did and guesstimate your portions (this requires some experience).
I also had multiple days where I did not track and aimed for a more ‘intuitive’ day at maintenance. Doing this did slow down progress a little, but I did still lose weight while traveling.
You see, even if you only track every now and then it can still benefit you. It’s like checking your bank account to keep your spending in check.
- Adjust meal frequency/structure
What if you usually have 4-5 meals per day and it’s difficult to stick to that frequency?Feel free to just stick to breakfast, lunch and dinner. This will make sure that the meals you’re having are big enough to keep you full for a while. If you then want to add some snacks, try to get some protein in when you can.
Here’s what I did: Instead of the usual 5 meals per day, I went down to 3 actual meals + 2 protein based snacks. That way my protein feedings stayed the same, but I got to enjoy bigger meals.
Bonus tip: knowing how many meals you’re going to eat on a daily basis can make sticking to your nutrition so much easier. Try to decide on this beforehand, so you don’t run into the old “hmm should we eat?”.
All the more practical tips aside, sometimes it just comes down to discipline and willpower.There were plenty of moments where I had to remind myself of my goal.
Why? To give you an idea, after every show there would be pizza backstage. We both know how tempting a pizza can be after a long, busy day… Especially trying to stick to just a single slice was a huge challenge.
But every calorie counts, whether it’s tracked or not.
Did I want that after-show pizza? Oh yes, every single time. Did I go for it? Sometimes. But I reminded myself of my goal and said no more often than I’d do at maintenance.
Sometimes we need to make short term trade-offs in order to enjoy the long term effects. If we want to see long term success, our actions need to be aligned with our goals.
How often you have to say ‘no’ will depend on whether your expectations are to maintain, or lose weight.
The habits that you need to create to achieve your goals are the same habits you need to maintain to keep your REAL results in the long run.They’re also the same habits that will help you maintain or even create more progress when you’re on-the-go.
The cool thing is that you don’t have to keep up all your habits all the time. As long as you consistently practice most of them, you’re all good.
I heavily relied on the fact that things like eating protein, drinking water, eating veggies, fruits, etc. are just part of who I am.
And that’s where we need to get you too. To a point where you know how to eat for your goals, without restriction.
Meaning that you can both enjoy AND lose fat, build muscle and feel healthy.
But creating new habits is difficult when you’re on-the-go. So it’s probably going to come down to establishing healthy habits before you leave. And then putting them to the test once you’re traveling.
See, it really doesn’t have to be very complicated.
If you get in those proteins, fruits and vegetables, you’ll stay full and keep calories low so there’s plenty of room for the fun foods.
Especially if you combine that with those zero/low calorie drinks, a solid meal structure, and a dash of willpower, you’ll be fine!
I hope you found these tips useful. May they help you maintain, or even lose weight while traveling!
- Tate, Deborah F et al. “Replacing caloric beverages with water or diet beverages for weight loss in adults: main results of the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) randomized clinical trial.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 95,3 (2012): 555-63. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.026278