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August 2, 2013

How To Manage Weight While On The Road (Again)

manage weightManage Weight While Travelling

You’ve been working hard on managing your weight. You’ve been eating cleaner, exercising more, and have your hormones finely tuned. You have your body weight where you want and you feel great. You have a routine that is working. But…. But now you have to go on the road disrupting that routine that has been so successful.

How do you manage weight while on the road? Perhaps the best step you can take is listen to your body – it will tell you what it needs. Sleep is important because the body runs on a circadian rhythm that affects hormone release and some of these hormones affect body composition.

Listen to Your Body’s Physiology and Ignore the Clock

This is especially true if you have travelled across a few time zones. Eat when you are hungry, not at a specified time. The same is true for sleep. If you live in the eastern time zone and typically go to bed at 11 PM and have travelled three time zones to the Pacific coast go to bed as close as you can to 8 PM. For extended stays you can gradually adjust your eating and sleeping to local time.

Stay Away From Convenient Foods

Be sure to drink plenty of water when you’re on the road. This will help curb your appetite. Avoid the snacks that are conveniently placed in your hotel room and elsewhere (though some like nuts would be acceptable). Most of these are calorie dense and high glycemic causing excess production of insulin. Have healthy snacks on you for in between meals.

Make Time for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Allow yourself enough time to eat a solid breakfast, lunch, and dinner – especially breakfast. Too often when on the road breakfast gets missed. But, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. If you have to miss a meal let it be lunch or dinner. Watch how much you eat at each meal, too. Restaurants usually provide portions that are in excess of what you need.  Eat until your content not stuffed.  Also, salad dressings, sauces, and condiments usually contain high fructose corn syrup.

Plan ahead. If you know there is going to be big dinner reception eat a little less at your earlier meals.

Have a Good Time But Watch Your Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol provides empty calories and is metabolized in the liver into trigylcerides or fatty acids. Limit your consumption to two drinks a day and watch the snacking that usually accompanies alcohol consumption. Nuts are healthier than crackers or pretzels.

Find Time for Activity or Exercise

Finding time to get exercise when on the road the way you normally would at home can be really challenging. This is where high intensity interval training can be extremely helpful since it doesn’t require a lot of time. Plus, it can even be done in your hotel room doing calisthenics and body weight exercises.

A four minute Tabata protocol will get your blood flowing and boost your metabolism. Tabata involves doing an exercise in an all out effort for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated eight times for a four minute workout. That’s less time than it takes to make your way to a hotel’s fitness center. You don’t have to stop a four minutes either. If you have the time you can do more than four minute cycles.

Get Enough Sleep

We’ve alluded to this already. Getting good sleep while on the road is critical. The body has its own internal clock or circadian rhythm. If that rhythm gets disrupted hormone production can be hampered. Hormones like thyroid, growth hormone, DHEA, testosterone, and estrogen all play a role in energy production and utilization affecting body weight.

Some people adjust easier than others to the time changes associated with travelling. If you have a difficult time getting good sleep while travelling then a sleep aid might be helpful. It’s easier to sleep well if you take the necessary steps to eat well and getting some exercise.

Depending on the length of your stay you may find it easier to go to bed based on the time zone you left – this usually works for short stays and trips that don’t involve more than one or two time zones. For longer stays you can adjust the time you go to sleep either forward or backward (depending on whether you travelled eastward or westward)  an hour a day until your body has adjusted to local time.

Overall, to manage weight while travelling try to replicate your normal routine as much as possible as long as possible.


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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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