Vacationing on Keto:
I started researching how to stay on Keto during vacation, because I have a terrible track record when it comes to vacationing, or trips, or just plain weekends.
It is easy for me to make up excuses.
Especially since I am now within 15 lbs of my goal weight. . . which is where i’ve been for the past 6 months.
I fit in all my pre-baby clothes, but am still attached to food… so I’ve gotten into a cycle of losing during the week,and then splurging on the weekends. Which means that I lose and gain the same 5 pounds.
Well, one of the nice things about being so close to your goal weight, is that a few pounds difference actually makes a difference on how you look!
The thing that I have noticed about going off Keto, is that I immediately bloat. I eat grains or sugars that tends to inflame my body, and catches water, so bloating is immediate. I can gain 3-5 pounds of bloat from one day to the next.
This happens one of 2 ways.
- 1 Bloating.
A glycogen molecule is different than other molecules. For one gram of glycogen, it has to hold on to 3 grams of water molecules. So your bloat (carbs/sugar = glycogen) really is ‘water weight’ and once your body lets go/burns that glycogen (stored sugar), it releases the extra 3 water molecules.
So high carb “cheating” (which turns to sugar) will result in holding on to water. Makes sense? (Source 1st 2 paragraphs)
- 2 Inflammation.
There have been scientific studies done that show certain foods and food groups irritate our insides, and can put our bodies in self-preservation mode.
Imagine what happens to your body when you get punched in the eye. The body says “Oh no, I’ve been attacked, let’s surround this area with a soft cushion to protect it from other attacks while we heal.”
So then you have a black/puffy eye. That same thing is happening inside us when our body reacts badly to food. Here are a few of the big common inflammatory foods:
- Fried Foods
- Sugary Drinks
- White bread/pastas
- Too many desserts
All things that we naturally avoid on the Keto diet, but will probably eat when having a cheat day.
How Can this help me stay on the Keto diet during trips?
Well, arming ourselves with knowledge is one of the best ways to equip ourselves in all aspects of life. But more specifically, now you’ll understand a few of my tips.
I figured out a lot of my excuses, and I worked hard to have solutions to them BEFORE I left on the airplane.
So how did it work in real life, was I successful? Check out my tips and how I conquered Keto while visiting family:
I went to visit family across the country. I had 2 weddings in 2 weeks, and I chose to see if I could use my own tips to truly stick to Keto!
First of all, I bought this cute pencil skirt and SMALL shirt.
A month out, I had a ‘Keto break’ day. So I was bloated the next day. I put the skirt on.
I hope you can see the difference with just a few pounds, although the pictures could be better (I need to take nicer pictures AND learn how to upload them so they all look the same). This was important because it made the “One Day Won’t Hurt” excuse disappear. I saw it in the mirror that YES, IT WOULD HURT!
So tip #1 bring tight-fitting clothes that look good on Keto, but not bloated. Please don’t BUY clothes that are TOO SMALL for you. It’s almost impossible to LOSE WEIGHT while vacationing, but you CAN MAINTAIN. So get outfits that fit perfectly at your size.
Next I made sure that as early out as possible (at least 2 weeks out for me) I was super strict about Keto. I NEED to be fat-adapted by the time the vacation comes around, or it will be harder for me to say no to food.
If you are new to keto, jumping into a vacation AND Keto is not a good idea. Do a lot of research, and have plenty of time to be acquainted and fat-adapted.
Part of being fat-adapted, is how easy it is to implement Intermittent Fasting into your routine. That is because when you are fat adapted, your hunger levels go way down, if not disappearing altogether.
So when I visited my sister on one of the days of my vacation, and she made breakfast full of carbs, I wasn’t so hungry that I gave in because ‘the food was right there’ and ‘there wasn’t another breakfast option‘. Because now there is another option; To delay breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) because of Intermittent Fasting.
The difference between having a glycogen-fueled body (sugar) and a fat-fueled body, is that your body can only store so much glycogen-ready fuel (the extra gets turned into fat storage) at a time. So eating a sugar-fueled diet, means you NEED to eat regularly enough to keep your energy up.
But with the Keto diet, your body has an almost endless supply of fat energy at it’s disposal. So it does not need to be consistently refueled by eating food.
You still though, and this is really important, You still need to be eating the right amount of calories a day to keep your body functioning. So although intermittent fasting can be helpful, don’t use it as an excuse to starve yourself of your daily needed nutrients and calories.
So you should AT LEAST find out the amount of calories your body needs a day, and MAKE SURE you hit that number and exceeding it is fine too.
I used the app CarbManager.
I plugged in my numbers (height/weight/age etc) and they gave me a suggested calorie number to never go below. My calorie number is 1267. The consensus on the internet is no one should go below 1200 daily calories. By the way, you can easily hit that number by eating 2 fast-food hamburgers.
So Tip #2 Be Fat Adapted at least 2 weeks before the vacation.
And Tip #3 Use Intermittent Fasting to skip carb heavy meals.
Now for breakfast, usually you can find eggs.
At hotel complimentary breakfasts, or even at homes of family/friends, they will probably have eggs in their fridge. Don’t be afraid to ask to make yourself some eggs. They are cheap, so your friends are not hoarding them for a special occasion. I promise, they won’t mind!
Another thing I did was hit up the fancy burger joints about an hour before getting together where there was food. Skipping out quickly for a 1/2 hour should be just fine. You are (I’m assuming) an adult and can control your time.
- In and Out has a crazy good hamburger that you just order protein style.
- Five Guys restaurant has grilled peppers and onions that you can add to a bunless burger, so good!
- Culver’s butter bacon burger is to die for.
- Freddies double burger is awesome too.
- Find local fastfood hamburger places. their signature hamburgers will probably be more delicious than, say, Wendy’s burger with no bun.
I tried all of these during the trip. And it not only was sufficient for my hunger, but also enjoyable to eat such good food!
If you are worried about eating so much meat, don’t be. Check out how a lot of successful Keto-ers consistently do Beef and Butter Fasts.
Tip #4 fast-food Bun-less burgers are your jam.
The one other thing that helped me get through the vacation, was having Keto sweets on hand.
Because there is sure to be treats on a vacation (my big love is ice cream), I would smile politely and refuse desserts, knowing that I could run to a store and grab REBEL ICE CREAM at the end of the day.
I also use mints to satisfy my sweet tooth, or just need something to snack on to stay awake. In a pinch, I’ll just use any sugar-free mint or gum, but I think xylitol is better than aspartame?
Ideally, I want one flavored with monk fruit, stevia, or erythitol, but I haven’t found any yet. . . Someone should get on that!
Tip #5 Have a ‘Sweet tooth’ plan
Last, but not least, just know that you may have to do lazy Keto (eating only Keto approved foods, but not tracking your macros) or dirty Keto (aiming for low carb, but not being strict about grain-free or sugar-free etc).
During vacation, we walked around Vegas and my husband wanted to stop at ‘THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY!’.
I looked at the menu, and decided on Sheila’s Chicken and Avocado salad, without the tortilla strips. Yes, it had questionable ingredients: Carrots, cashews, and a honey-citrus vinaigrette. But it sure beat eating CHEESECAKE! Sometimes, you just have to make the best choices you can.
Tip #6 Do lazy/dirty Keto if you need to. And don’t feel bad about it!
I had a chance to go to Costco while I was visiting the family. And I found these awesome Parmesan Cheese Wraps. I grabbed them, and a container of their deli Chicken salad, and brought them back to the house I was staying in, and stuck them in the fridge.
Then for the next 3 days, whenever I was hungry, I pulled out the cheese wraps, the chicken salad, rolled them up together, and BOOM! in 20 seconds, I had a meal.
No cooking, no prepping. That was a real life-saver, and it cut down on eating-out costs.
When I came home, my local costco didn’t carry the wraps, so I requested it. I’ve heard that if enough people request items from other costcos, they’ll start carrying it.
Although this saves you from cooking, if you are not in a position to keep the food in a fridge, might I suggest a mini cooler? They can be pretty inexpensive, and you’ll find plenty of uses for it in the future to make the buy worthwhile.
Tip #7 Buy premade, or easily put together, keto meals to satisfy you.
# Bonus tip #
I know I really shouldn’t be saying this, but I did have a cheat day while on vacation. I planned on it, accepted it, and I don’t regret my decision.
It was one of the last days there. I mentioned that this was for 2 weddings. Well, the last wedding had a ‘family tradition dinner’ the night before. The new in-laws were from Africa, and made some traditional dishes from their home country. I didn’t know what to expect, but I did know, that there are times that it’s more important to support relationships, than to be 100% on something. And let me tell you, they had the BEST rice, and a delicious kind of salsa and chicken. Mmm. So good! No regrets!
I finished my vacation strong. I got lots of compliments about how good I looked, I experienced so many good memories, and wasn’t tied down all the time worrying about food. This time around, I actually enjoyed my vacation better because of sticking to the Keto diet.
Do you have any other tips that have worked for you to stay Keto while traveling? Let me know in the comments!