It’s vacation season, a time to celebrate, rejuvenate, see new places or flee to coastal beaches. However, vacation season may also encourage overeating and inactive behaviour, in addition to the consumption of calorie-rich foods. Therefore, holiday weight gain is a common concern for many people.
However, there’s no better motivation than swimsuit season to fast-track your body to peak fat-burning condition and get in gear for the beach. By combining the right foods and beverages and intensifying your workouts, your body will be in head-turning shape all summer long.
Follow these tips to help avoid weight gain and achieve a good look on your vacation:
Get plenty of sleep:
Sleep deprivation, which is quite common during vacations, may cause weight gain. It’s easier to overeat when you’re tired. Caffeine, sugar and simple carbs are the worst choices for a pick-me-up. Sleep restriction may also increase your hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to higher calorie intake. Moreover, inadequate sleep has been linked to a lower metabolism. This may be caused by modifications in the biological clock that regulates many of your bodily functions.
Be active with family and friends:
Doing some simple physical activities with family like walking can get your mind off food and allow you to bond with your loved ones. Try to find a friend who has similar weight goals to keep you motivated and accountable over the holidays.
Try to be mindful of your snacking habits. If you are not hungry, it’s best to avoid snacking. Opt for real foods, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. They’re filling snacks that don’t contain added sugar or unhealthy fats, both of which can lead to weight gain. Avoid boredom or stress that can lead to mindless eating.
Start with a high-fibre breakfast of complex carbohydrates. Some studies show that increased dietary fibre can reduce total calorie intake, which may help prevent weight gain over the holidays. Fibre helps us feel full, so we eat less, and it keeps us regular. It’s also abundantly found in foods that are also naturally rich in vitamins and antioxidants to help slow the aging process. Switch to whole-grain bread and brown rice or quinoa, as they’re loaded with fibre and nutrients. Cooking can reduce the amount of fibre in foods, so be sure to have plenty of raw fruits and veggies too. Also choose fresh fruit over dried: it contains more water and is more filling.
Include protein in every meal:
Eating protein with meals and snacks promotes fullness, maintains muscle, and may be useful for weight management. Protein may automatically reduce calorie intake by reducing hunger and appetite because it increases your metabolism and levels of appetite-reducing hormones.
Limit the dessert intake:
Dessert is everywhere during the holiday season, often leading to excessive sugar consumption, a common cause of weight gain. Instead of eating every treat in sight, just focus on your favourites and ditch the rest. Or you can savour the desserts you do indulge in, simply taking the time to eat them slowly which may leave you feeling more satisfied and less likely to overdo it.
Modify your recipes:
High-calorie homemade food is a primary cause of weight gain. However, you can lower the calorie content of recipes by flavouring dishes with herbs and spices instead of butter, using cooking methods like baking, steaming, or grilling instead of frying, or substituting low-fat or skim milk for heavy cream. You can also replace cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise with Greek yoghurt.
Weigh yourself regularly:
Stepping on the scales regularly during the holidays can remind you of your weight goals, allowing you to take action before significant weight gain sets in. Studies suggest that people who weigh themselves regularly maintain or lose weight better than those who don’t.
Avoid processed foods:
While quick and easy, processed foods often contain excess sugar and unhealthy fats that can take a toll on your weight. To prevent weight gain, opt for whole foods and cook your meals from scratch. That way, you can monitor your diet and stay on top of your weight.
Good hydration is important all year round and even more important in the summer months, so be sure to keep your water bottle with you at all times. Have a glass of water before your meal to curb your hunger and another glass after your meal if you still feel like eating more.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 25 July, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly