5 Vacation Weight Gain Myths Debunked
Why you shouldn’t worry about gaining weight on vacation
With several trips lined up over the next few weeks, “How to not gain weight on vacation” has become one of my biggest concerns. There are so many articles about how to shed weight fast before and after your trip but through research and experience, I’ve come to believe something that very few people will tell you… You shouldn’t worry about gaining weight on vacation.
So many people dread the pounds they pack on after a trip, feeling guilty without taking into consideration the other factors at play. In preparation for my trip, and maybe yours, we debunk the most common vacation-themed health misconceptions and share how to have a healthy, balanced trip.
1. You can gain a lot of weight over the span of a typical vacation.
Despite this common complaint, you can’t actually gain that much weight over the span of a typical vacation! “If a person had any change in actual body mass (as opposed to water weight, which we’ll discuss shortly), it would likely only be about a pound during a weeklong vacation,” says Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, a psychologist, registered dietitian, and nutritionist who founded the online program Smash Your Scale.
2. You can get fat overnight.
Our bodies normally don’t lose or gain much fat or muscle overnight. If the scale shows a loss or gain over half a pound from the previous day, it could be from a change in the amount of water your body is retaining. While you’re on vacation, you usually eat food with more salt and sugar than usual, or drink more alcohol. These all contribute to water retention.
“Your body is really good at maintaining a stable weight, so if you listen to your hunger and satiety signals you should be fine,” says Albertson.
Aside from translating as weight gain, water retention expresses itself as puffiness in your hands, feet and ankles.
Balance out your increased sodium, sugar and alcohol intake by drinking more water. Make sure you have 8-10 glasses (at least 2.5 L) per day. This will help flush sodium and excess fluid from your system.
3. You can’t work out while you’re on vacation.
Just because you’re away from the gym, doesn’t mean you can’t work out. Just look around – the possibilities are endless. You could run outside while sightseeing at the same time or find active adventures such as trekking, kayaking or snorkeling. Even with a full itinerary, you can squeeze in a quick morning workout from the comfort of your own hotel room. Just wake up a few minutes earlier (even just 10 minutes earlier).
One efficient routine to take on your trips is this bed workout by NASM Certified Personal Trainer Joanna Soh.
4. It’s hard to lose vacation weight.
Even if you do gain vacation weight, it won’t last long. “The difference in eating [on vacation] is not going to have any impact once you go back to day-to-day living,” explains Melainie Rogers, MS, RD, registered dietitian, nutritionist, and founder of Balance Eating Disorder Treatment Center in New York City. “Your weight will naturally readjust itself over the next few weeks once you’re home, without any dieting,” she says.
5. You should go on an extreme diet before or after you vacation.
Deliberate weight-control measures around a vacation are unnecessary and can be detrimental to your health and well-being. “If you diet before a vacation, you are putting yourself at risk of overeating and disordered eating while you’re away and when you get back,” explains Rogers.
Before and after your trip, eat normally to lessen the stress and adjustment your body goes through while you’re away from your regular routine at home. During your vacation proper, balance is key. Choose some food purely for nutrition and indulge in some solely for pleasure.
Don’t forget that you’re also here to enjoy! Bon voyage !
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