Until starting my travels, I have always had quite a strict fitness and eating regime. It was simple. Get out of bed, eat healthy, find around 2 hours per day to exercise, eat more, then go to bed. Now when in a routine, this is all very easy. However, how do you keep your routine up when you may not know when or what your next meal is? Where about the nearest gym/fitness facility is? If you are up in a mountain with no facilities in sight? Well i have had this dilemma, and strung together some tips as i found myself having to constantly adjust to new environments, foods, and general life. One of the toughest challenges i face when going travelling with work is to keep my regime as much as possible, and keep that belly from popping!
Fitness and health has always been a huge part of life from the age of 14 right through university and it still is today. I work out almost every day and try to get at least 6 fitness sessions in per week ranging from cardio to powerlifting.
I have competed in multiple bodybuilding/physique competitions over the years, and also hold up as a competitive squash player. Basically i’m a very active person.
Tip 1 – Diet Tactic:
Without knowing the exact amount of calories you are eating, it is difficult to determine where you are at with your diet. I always find myself trying to add in my head, and then giving trying to calculate and go with my gut feeling….literally.
To keep the fat off the old spare tyre, I keep my carbs low. This means that i can indulge in slightly higher fat levels, and not have to worry about it. So a typical travel have no idea how much calories im eating breakfast will usually consist of:
– Coffee (obvs)
– Omelette or Scrambled egg.
– A slice of toasty bread or 2
– A portion of fruit.
This means that Ive got my protein for energy and fullness, I’ve got some healthy fats, and a small amount of carbs for energy. Now i understand that you can’t get this sort of breakfast anywhere, but just disregard the actual items of food and think about the fats, carbs, and protein when grabbing food abroad. Go for what you think is the leanest highest protein meal. But again, its not an exact science, so being in different cultures you don’t often have a choice as to what macronutrients you want.
Tip 2: Add 10%-20% to what you think you have eaten
This is always a funny one, as i too am victim to such thinking. A good tip regarding the quantity you have usually eaten throughout the day is to add 10%-20% of the calories that you think you have eaten. So if you you think you have eaten 2500 calories, then it is more likely going to be 2750-3000. Even though you have a rough idea, you don’t know the way the food is being prepared, and unlike at home, you don’t have control of what goes in your food. So just bear it in mind. All the little things add up, and by having this in the back of your mind, you will always be closer to your golden number.
For example if you aiming to eat 2500 calories, then eat what you think is 2250 calories and you’ll be more at your aim.
If you are 100% correct on the stuff you eat, and you eat lower calories than your aim, unless you’re maintaining high levels of muscle, then its a win-win for you.
Tip 3: Exercise
The golden tip that everyone is after. I would say that the best advice as to when to exercise is on the early morning before breakfast. This is the best time to exercise during your travelling regime. I know its hard to get out of bed, but usually if you are somewhere beautiful, its always rewarding to go for that run on the beach or do those exercises during sunrise. It makes it totally worth it without even thinking of your health benefits.
In terms of actual anatomical benefits of before breakfast workouts, lets talk science. When you wake up, your body immediately starts burning fat for fuel as you have no food to digest. This can be used to a huge advantage to keep in shape. By doing a run or doing a workout on an empty stomach forces your body to use fat for fuel and also increases insulin sensitivity (good thing). Now if you are worried about muscle loss, you can still do these fasted workouts, just don’t go mad doing hill sprints otherwise your body may start to break down muscle tissue, but this is only in very intense exercise.
After your morning workout, have breakfast. When you workout in a fasted state and your insulin sensitivity is up, your body will utilise the nutrients, carbs, and proteins in the food more efficiency driving them into your muscles to start the recovery process aka it won’t be going to your gut. Now this isn’t an excuse to smash a full english and a stack of pancakes as your body won’t be THAT efficient!
Also as we all know, travelling takes up a lot of time. You are so busy during the day and evening exploring, climbing mountains, watching sunsets that no matter how much you promise you’ll go for that run later, its a hell of a lot harder than doing it in the morning when not much as going on, trust me.
Tip 4: Maintaining Muscle Mass
Now if you want to keep all those hard earned muscles that you have spent years developing then read on. Rule number 1 with maintaining your muscle mass is to smash the protein. I don’t care how much protein you eat, if its got it, then eat it. Unless you’re eating over 400g which is quite hard (around 10 chicken breasts) then its hard to eat too much protein. This will ensure that your body always has a fuel source, and won’t go seeking for those hard earned gains to chomp for energy. I would also say up your carbs a little as well just to be on the safe side.
In terms of exercise and working out just do what you can when you can. Whether that be a run followed by press ups, pull ups, and body squats it doesn’t matter. Every rep is something and is a tiny step towards keeping that muscle. If you find a gym then even better.
If there isn’t a gym in sight then go for some press ups, pull ups, squats, circuits, jumping press ups, towel curls etc. The possibilities are endless, but you just need a bit of imagination.
Tip 5: Water
Last but definitely not least, in fact one of the most important tips for keeping your physique is water. If you think you’ve drunk enough, then drink again. Especially in hot countries, your fluid intake should almost double what you normally drink at home. In hot humid countries i aim for around 4-5 litres of water, as i drink around 2.5L back at home. Even more if you’re exercising. Now this sounds like a lot but its not really. If you have a 2L bottle of water with you, its surprising how fast you can drink it in hot climate. Just keep filling and never let that bottle stay empty for long.
The benefits of water are endless. More energy, better skin, less bloated, helps keep you lean, keeps you looking health etc etc. Definitely don’t disregard your water intake!
A quick fat loss tip is that if you drink around a litre of water with your food, it helps your body digest, and also washes away some of excess calories (true story). So keep your tummy happy!
So thats my 2 piece on how i help maintain my physique, muscle, and fitness levels whilst out on my travels. Give them a go and let me know what you think. Peace x