The vast majority of my clients are not physique competitors looking to do well onstage but are instead regular people who just want to lose some body fat, build some muscle, feel better, and be proud of their bodies. What this means is that packing all their food and taking it with them everywhere they go is not realistic. They’re going to travel for vacation or work and they’re going to want to enjoy some opportunities to eat out with their friends and/or family. They need some flexibility in their nutrition plan that allows them to still see progress. I’ve adopted a similar approach to my own nutrition the last several months as I continue to try to cut weight and body fat while giving myself some nutritional flexibility. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks so hopefully you will find these useful as well.
Transfer Your Calories
If you’re like most people, it’s pretty easy to stick to your nutrition plan during the week but the weekends can undo a week’s worth of hard work. Most of the time this weight gain is from an increase in calories and potentially water as we tend to eat foods higher in salt and consume alcohol. We can manage this a couple ways. If you know you’re going to go out to eat at night, “save” those calories for dinner instead of consuming them during the day. So if you know you’re going to go hog wild on some Mexican food you can manage the total calories for the day by dropping your carbs throughout the rest of the day or even skipping a meal. If you know you’re going to have a full on weekend of gluttony, then you can even pull carbs/calories from several days before and after. Along with consuming lots of water, this has shown to be very effective at reducing the total amount of weight gained and also getting the extra pounds off sooner rather than later.
One method that I used when going on a weeklong cruise where I knew I was going to consume large amounts of food and alcohol was I trained for 10 days straight without an off day. Most workouts were a little over two hours long. I know that sounds a little extreme but by the time I went on the cruise I was so depleted physically and neurally that my body soaked up everything I consumed like a sponge. The total damage from the cruise was gone the day I got back.
Order a Double
Eating clean while traveling can be extremely difficult. Most of the time you don’t have any means of taking food with you and you don’t have any means of preparing food when you get there. Also, for many of my business clients, work travel can meen catering, late night socializing, and food and drinks on the company’s credit card. In this instance, there are a couple things you can do. First, if you’re driving, you can take food with you on the road. Just throw it in a cooler and heat it up in the microwave available at most gas stations. This will at least keep you on plan while you’re on the road and away from the less than stellar selection at most gas stations. If you’re flying or driving and really don’t have any way to take food with you, you can order meals from online food prep companies that will mail your food to wherever you are staying. It’ll all be there when you get there so you can just pop it in the microwave and you’re good to go. In most cases, carrying protein powder and a shaker bottle with you is feasible and can at least ensure you’re going to get enough protein in when your company caters in a carb only breakfast. If you find yourself in a situation where you know you can’t resist some foods that are available, I suggest eating all your protein and vegetables first. This will at least fill you up some and limit how much damage you can really do with some other choices. Finally, if you weren’t able to bring food with you, you can always order two of something from the restaurants you go to. I’ve ordered two meals, thrown one in the fridge at the hotel and eaten it later that night or the next day. Most restaurants will help cook food to your specification so you can ask that they not cook something in butter or oil or leave off a sauce if you want.
Coke Zero Alternation
Despite what you may think, low carb alcohol still has a significant amount of calories because alcohol has 7 calories per gram. Now when you start talking about mixed drinks and high gravity beers, wine too, you’re looking into some pretty high calorie consumption. Also alcohol has been shown to have a negative impact on fat metabolism (can you say beer belly?) That being said, when you’re out having a good time you don’t want to be the stick in the mud that only drinks water. So there are a few options you can use to reduce the total calories and still have some fun. First, I would suggest choosing lower calories options. Instead of Jack and Coke do Jack and Coke Zero, Vodka Sprite Zero, or some other mixed drink with a calorie free mixer. If you’re going to drink beer, try a light beer (I know, they suck) or alternate the alcohol of your choice with water or a zero calorie soft drink. Coke zero looks and tastes pretty much the same as Jack and Coke Zero so you’ll get the social experience and the taste without taking in too many calories.
Either extreme of nutrition can suck. If you eat and drink without any regard to your health you’re going to look and feel like shit. Likewise if you never enjoy food, drinks, or socializing with friends, you’re going to hate life. Moderation is the key and progress can be made with some flexibility. That being said, there are certain cases in which certain things need to be cut out completely in order to reach certain goals but if you’re just trying to live healthy and enjoy some of the flavors of this world, use these tips to help you out.