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STOP DOING THIS! 5 Tips to Avoid a Vacation Diet Rebound! Personal Trainer Tokyo Titan

This is something that happens to a lot of people. Your diet is going great, you're consistently training in the gym, and then this happens. It's time to go on vacation. For a lot of people, especially if you're on a fat loss journey and it's going extremely well, there can be a lot of anxiety around vacation. I just got back from a vacation with my family, so I know exactly how this feels.

This was our first vacation since the pandemic hit. My four year old son really likes Super Mario, so we promised him we’d take him to Universal Studios Japan, so he could see the Super Nintendo World. Of course, being on vacation, especially at a theme park, there's so many treats and so many foods that you want to eat that normally you can't eat.

You're faced with a very difficult decision of whether you say “Screw it,” and just enjoy all these things you can't normally enjoy. Or do you continue to do your diet, which is more likely to help you succeed at your fitness goals, but it is going to sacrifice a lot of the enjoyment you would be having from this vacation? Not to mention the training. Should you take time out of your vacation schedule so you can continue to do your training routine? Or should you just stop doing training?

So today, I'm going to share five tips for getting the most out of your vacation without impacting your fitness goals.


  • Tip 1: Don't continue eating for fat loss on your vacation

  • Tip 2: All food has value

  • Tip 3: It's okay not to train

  • Tip 4: When you come back from vacation, don't overcorrect

  • Tip 5:Have fun

Tip 1: Don't continue eating for fat loss on your vacation

This is the biggest mistake I see for vacation. Leading up to the vacation, you're in a caloric deficit for fat loss, and when you go on vacation, you continue this caloric deficit. The majority of your meals on vacation, you'll be eating out. And when you eat out, it's very difficult to get low calorie, high nutritional food.

If you restrict yourself on vacation, there'll be a lot of new foods that you want to eat and drink, but you just can't. It also creates a lot more stress for you and the people who are traveling with you. Before the vacation, if you're in a caloric deficit, then increase your calories up to maintenance.

Maintenance calories is enough calories to maintain your weight without losing or gaining weight. If you track calories or macros, that's very easy to do. If you don't track calories or macros and your diet more from intuition, then this will mean trying to eat dishes that have lots of vegetables and protein, but also eating to the point where you feel like it's sufficient. For these people, I highly recommend the Japanese rule of thumb of eating until your stomach is 80% full.

Tip 2: All food has value

If you're on a fat loss diet, then meals that are high in fiber, protein and nutrition have extremely high value, even more so if they're delicious. Foods like cake, which don't have any added value besides tasting nice, because they're going to make it harder to achieve your fat loss goal, they have lower value. But when you're on vacation to a place you don't normally go to, and when you have the choice of foods that you don't normally get to eat. Something like cake, for example, that you eat in a themed restaurant that's in an amusement park, and that cake’s designed on a character that you and your family like, and you're eating the cake with your family, now that cake has extremely high value. Always think about the value of each food you eat.

This is advice that is especially relevant to vacations and special events, but it's also very important to think about the value of food in your daily life.

"Is this food aligned with my fitness goals?"

"Will it make me feel good for a short amount of time or a long amount of time?"

And just like this example of cake, this value isn't a stagnant thing. It is constantly changing based on the circumstances. So if it's in your regular daily life, you're in the middle of a fat loss journey and you're craving a food that's going to make it much more difficult to achieve your fitness goals, probably not a good idea. But if you're on vacation, even if it's a food that's not aligned with your fitness goals, if it's going to help you create wonderful memories with your family, then eat that food.

Tip 3: It's okay not to train

When you're on vacation, you probably have a very tight schedule, so trying to fit in some training can be extremely difficult. Training on vacation also has the very difficult challenge of finding facilities where you can do decent freeweight training. Of course you could change up your regular training routine, but if you're vacationing, especially with friends and family, in most cases, I recommend not training. It can greatly impact the schedule and create a lot of stress for you and the people traveling with you.

It's also likely that it's a very active schedule with lots of walking and lots of activities planned. If you're doing a full on workout on top of all this walking and all these activities, that's a lot of recovery your body needs. Chances are you'll just end up tiring yourself out.

If it's a very short vacation, say, about a week or less, then just shift back your training schedule, and when you get back home, resume from where you left off. Having a short break like this will have no impact. It takes six weeks for the body to start losing muscle.

If your vacation's a little bit longer and it's between one and two weeks, then consider doing a lighter version of your training, something very quick that keeps the blood flowing. While this two week period won't be enough to lose muscle, it is enough to lose some of that CNS adaption. This means that on some of your heavier exercises, the weight you can resist might actually come down just a little bit. But by doing a shorter, more simplified version of your training routine, you can maintain that CNS adaption.

Tip 4: When you come back from vacation, don't overcorrect

This is another really common mistake. You go on vacation, you really enjoy yourself, maybe a little bit too much. You come back home, you weigh yourself and bam, your weight on the scales has gone up a bit. A lot of people, when they see that increased weight on the scales, they panic and they go into hyper mode. They're now on a diet that's even stricter than before they went on vacation, they're doing a lot of cardio, trying to burn excess calories.

This might sound like a really good idea, but it's actually the worst thing you can do. For the most part, that increase in weight is not going to be fat. On vacation, you probably ate more food than before the vacation, so a lot of that increase in weight is going to be food. And a lot of that food you're eating is probably more carbs. On vacation, it is extremely difficult trying to get dishes that are mostly lots of vegetables and lots of lean protein. So that balance in your food intake is going to see a large increase in carbohydrates.

Each gram of carbohydrates absorbs one gram of water. So as well as that higher volume of food you're eating increasing your weight, the water it absorbs is also increasing your weight. After vacation, if you go right back into your normal diet and right back into your normal trading routine, most of that weight, if not all of it, will disappear. But by overcorrecting and going even stricter on your calories and doing even more cardio to burn calories, that's going to create a lifestyle that's much harder to maintain, so eventually, you will fail.

And when this happens, you temporarily give up, you eat all these foods you shouldn't be eating. And then you see the scales, you see it's increased again and you restrict your calories even more. And by repeating this cycle of restricting calories, giving up, eating food, and then restricting again, this has two negative effects. The first one is it decreases your metabolism. So now to lose weight, you need to eat even less calories. The second thing is that your body tries to save all that excess energy from the food when you binge so that it has energy when it's starving. In order to do this, it increases the cells that can store fat. And these cells, once your body has made them, they can't be destroyed.

So this cycle of restrict calories, binge, restrict calories, binge will make you fatter in the long run, and it'll be fat that you can't get rid of. I know it sounds really scary, but it's very easy to avoid. When you come back from vacation, for that first week, ignore the result on the scale. Just slip back into your normal diet and your normal training routine. It'll all be fine.

Tip 5:Have fun

I can't stress this enough. You don't get to go on vacation very often. Vacations are an opportunity to go to a place we don't normally get to go to, to enjoy foods and activities that we don't usually get to experience. So while avoiding the extreme of going all out, don't create stress for yourself, don't create stress for the people traveling with you, and share some really fun experiences that you remember with your friends and family for the rest of your life.

Need help achieving your fat loss goals? Try Tokyo Titan!

Tokyo Titan is an internationally certified bodybuilding speacialist fitness trainer and nutritionist. Lessons are provided both at the private gym located in Ota-ku, 4 minutes walk from the Keikyu Omorimachi Station, and online. Lessons can also be provided in English, allowing you to build up your English skills while also achieving your fitness goals. If you are interested, please inquire for more details.


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