Beat the post holiday belly bloat!
IS THIS YOU?
We all know how it feels; you get back off your holiday and you’re feeling worse than before you went. We all get the post-holiday blues, but that doesn’t help when you’re feeling like months of hard work in the gym, keeping track of your macros and so on, have been ruined in just a week or two.
You might have started the holiday feeling pretty good about your body shape, looking back at yourself you may have not even realised at the time how good you were looking at the time. But, in just that short break where your normal eating and exercise routine had been forgotten; the ab lines have gone, a few jiggly bits have appeared, and what’s worse is that your energy levels and motivation are at an all time low.
WELL, STOP WHINING AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
The worst thing you can do is do nothing about it and accept that this (more cuddly) version of yourself it for the rest of the year. What most people don’t know is that if you do something about it in the first week or two, or even days after returning back to normality, you can completely undo ALL the damage you inflicted in your body during that overly-indulgent week.
WHY DID I GAIN WEIGHT SO FAST?
Typically weight gain from over-eating for short periods of time, including over-binged weekends, comes from increased glycogen stores, water retention and undigested food:
– Glycogen is basically how your body stores carbohydrates. It can take up around 1-2% of your weight in muscle mass. So the more muscle mass you have the bigger your capacity. When you’re dieting your glycogen stores are typically slightly depleted. When you over-eat carbs then you’re adding to your stored glycogen levels. When these stores ‘spill-over’ that’s when it’s easy to gain body fat. The longer they “spill over” for the more fat you will gain over time. As well as the additional weight gained through increased glycogen storage, for each gram of carbohydrate grabbed by your body it will typically absorb 2.7g of water. So theoretically for each gram of carbs you over indulge on, that’s around 4g your body is going to gain in weight.
– Water retention comes from all of those extra carbs we spoke about, as well as the bucket loads of extra salt you were eating whilst away. For some people hopping on an aeroplane at altitude for even just a few hours will also cause some retention.
– You’ve also got loads of undigested food sitting in you right now. There’s only so much that your digestive system can handle. Just imagine a giant waste bin that you’re suddenly using a lot more, you’re filling it up even quicker, yet you’re still only taking out the trash the same amount as you were before!
Now we know where the weight gain comes from, whether it’s actually from a holiday abroad, or even just a big cheat weekend, we can now identify the best solution.
TAKE THESE IMPORTANT STEPS
STEP 1 – Combat water retention! Drink lots of water to encourage the body to flush out all the excess water you’ve retained. Drinking lots of water will also improve digestion. Reduce your salt intake by avoiding salty meals, condiments, adding salt to your meals, and even drinking fizzy drinks. Most carbonated waters should also be avoided. Only drink water, black coffee, or herbal teas. As far as water retention from flights are concerned, some people find that by limiting carbohydrates to a minimum just before and during the flight helps massively with this, so try to avoid the carby and salty aeroplane food, and take your own food on board.
Step 2 – Give your digestive system a little helping hand! You’ve probably got a load of undigested food sitting in you right now. You need some more help taking out the trash, and you need to give your waste bin a bit of a break. So supplements and exercise that aid digestion, as well as dropping your calories and carbs is the obvious solution. Some supplements that could help in the days after your return to normality are; digestive enzymes, ox bile, pre and probiotics, and fibre supplements. Be sure to drop your calories down to create a slight calorie deficit, and include lots of fibrous veggies, as well as fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and pickles. These will all aid digestion. If you want to be a little more radical then replacing some of your meals with a bit of a juice fast will also help for a short period of time.
Step 3 – Deplete glycogen and limit glycogenesis! You need to exercise the right way to deplete muscle glycogen, and limit the production and storage of new glycogen. Deplete glycogen using high intensity workouts. While you were away chances are most exercise you were doing was very low intensity, walking, swimming and so on. That’s great if you want to be in the fat-burning “zone”, and will help minimise fat gain. However, you need to burn off some of that excess glycogen as soon as you get the chance. To achieve this, high-intensity metabolic-style workouts, interval training, and high volume resistance training is needed. Aim for an effort level of about a 5-8 out of 10 (see the RPE table below).
It goes without saying that dropping your carbohydrate intake to as low as you can handle when you get back will go a long way in helping you get back your pre-holiday bod. This is how we limit your body from storing more glycogen. The exercise helps deplete it, while controlling your carbohydrates to small amounts for a short period of time will help drop the weight even quicker. Aim for around 50g of carbohydrates each day until you’ve hit your pre-holiday weight, then gradually increase them back up again.
The next time you’re feeling the post-holiday, or even cheat weekend bloat, try these simple steps to get back on track. You’ll be surprised just how radically these few simple steps can help you drop a few kg’s almost overnight!