Cutting calories is one of the most difficult things you can do when training, and at some point nearly everyone goes through it.
Whether they call it a diet, a cleanse (uh!), or a cut they basically mean restricting calories so that they can lose body fat and become leaner.
Attempting to do this in the comfort of your own home is hard enough, and each January millions of people fail to make it past 3 weeks. Attempting to do it whilst travelling is even more challenging, but with the following tips you should hopefully find it easier than you would have done.
Step One: Track Calories
You might be able to cut calories successfully at home without tracking them but on the road? It is highly unlikely!
Well you could manage it but not accurately, nor effectively.
Problem is that when you are staying in hotels, or eating out in restaurants you have very little control of what is going in to the food.
Maybe they use 3 tablespoons of olive oil to cook their food whilst you normally get by with a cooking spray? Congratulations on consuming 300 calories more than you are used to.
You aren't going to be able to track for that sort of stuff, which means that you need to be tracking for everything else.
By the way this goes double if you're in a different country, it would be a shame to go to a different country and not experience the cuisine but you're not going to have any idea what the calories or macros are.
So googling the meals and putting the calories into your tracker will keep you on target.
Step Two: Keep Protein High
Keeping protein high is essential when staying in a calorie deficit.
The main reason for this is that consuming high levels (twice as much as recommended) can protect fat-free mass whilst body fat is lowered .
Also, if possible try and spread your protein throughout the day rather than eating the bulk of it at dinner.
Studies have shown that sharing your protein intake between your three main meals is best for muscle protein synthesis .
Step Three: Find a place that stocks Supplements
If you can't bring your own with you it is best to research where to buy some supplements whilst on the road. Supps like whey protein, creatine, and fish oil are very useful when cutting and you wouldn't want to stop taking them unless you had to.
One of the best ways to ensure you get your supplements whilst travelling is protein bars, some of them even contain creatine.
They are long-lasting, can be packed easily, and they don't require anything else (unlike protein shakes that require a shaker, water, and an industrial strength cleaner once you've forgotten about them).
Step Four: Keep your NEAT levels high
Non exercise activity thermogenesis (also known as NEAT) is a measure of all of the calories you burn during the day performing activities that aren't classed as exercise.
So cleaning, working, reading, fidgeting (which can actually make a huge difference to a person's metabolism) , and walking.
When you travel the first thing that tends to happen is that your NEAT levels drop, which can result in weight gain (unless you adjust your diet accordingly). Combine this with less chances to train as usual and you can end up in a bad way.
The best way to combat this is to increase your step count, find yourself a step-counter (there are some decent free apps available) and get walking. This is a really good way to increase NEAT whilst also getting to explore a new area.
Step Five: Keep your Discipline
This one might come off as condescending but it really is important. A study in 2005 found that catching ‘slips‘ was one of the ways that people who successfully lost weight and kept it off differed from those who didn't .
If you find that you can't track your calories one day, or have to miss the gym, or you can't get any of the supplements you wanted there will be a temptation to jack it all in.
This toys out the pram response is perfectly understandable – particularly if you are on holiday – but it will ruin your chances of success.
When something bad happens that prevents you from hitting your goals, brush yourself down and get right back on the horse. Tomorrow is a new day, and there is fat to be burned!
The trick is to make travelling as similar to home-life as possible, whilst still embracing the differences.
A new gym is always a good experience, and trying new food can be awesome (so long as you find the calorie total). Walk, exercise, sleep well, and maintain your calorie deficit and your cut will continue with no issues.