Welcome To Part 2 of our mini-series on weight loss and travel
I must say that we had an absolutely amazing time in Europe! Here’s a quick recap:
- We started our trip in Barcelona. The Sagrada Familia is a must see especially if you’re a cathedral person. It’s probably the most amazing architecture I have ever seen! It has an interesting back story, and has at least 10 more years of construction before being completed.
- In Paris we walked (yes walked everywhere, so many miles, so good!) to the Notre Dame, Louvre, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, and of course the Eiffel Tower. We had a great time sitting under the Eiffel Tower eating cheese, baguette, cold cuts, drinking wine, and pretending to be French (too bad the only words I could seem to remember from 10th grade French class were “j’adore” and “fromage”, which I guess works… “I love cheese!”).
- In London I finally saw “Wicked”, went to a traditional English tea time, checked out Big Ben (which is actually the name of the bell, not the tower), tried to stalk the queen at Buckingham Palace, and ate a meat pie at the “Sherlock Holmes Pub”.
Part 1 recap
Now, back to the good stuff. In part 1 of this post we discussed how easy it is for calories to pile up while eating around the clock. If you eat your normal dinner, then have a few snacks while waiting for your flight, board your international flight at 11:30 PM, then have dinner again shortly after takeoff, you are definitely consuming too many calories followed by a long period of inactivity. It’s understandable how easy it is for calories to add up in this situation, and how this can translate into unwanted weight gain if you are a frequent flyer.
Part 2 – How eating around the clock can derail your weight loss goals
Sometimes while traveling I felt like I had been eating for 24 hours straight. I would eat my normal meals, head to the airport, have a few snacks out of sheer boredom, get on the plane, eat my next meal at midnight, take a nap, wake up, have a snack because I’m bored, 2 hours later “Yay the flight attendants are passing out ice cream – I’ll take one of those”, next in-flight meal, arrive at our destination. Finally, after 24 hours of eating, I’m so sick of food that I’m ready for a break.
This continuous eating was my own fault. However, in this situation it is easy to fall into the trap of continuous eating. For me, this is probably because I have problems sleeping on planes and I’m a bored eater.
So, why does continuous eating cause weight gain besides consuming too many calories per day?
It’s simple, our bodies need a break from eating to focus on burning stored energy versus burning freshly consumed food for energy. Let’s look at a study done in May 2012 on time-restricted feeding (aka intermittent fasting):
- The study: Researchers tested two groups of mice. Both groups were fed the same high calorie diet. The only difference is that one group of mice were allowed to feed all day while the other group was restricted to an 8 hour feeding window during peak activity levels.
- Results: At the end of the study, the time-restricted feeding group was 40% leaner than the group of mice allowed to eat all day.
- Bonus: Researchers found that time-restricted feeding also lowered the mice’s risk for diabetes and liver disease, and the mice had lower blood sugar and cholesterol than the non-restricted feeding group.
- Conclusion: Time-restricted feeding is key for weight loss.
Why this works
Why is this? The answer – fasting! Please don’t be scared away by the F word. I’m not trying to sell you on a diet or lifestyle change. We all have experience with fasting; it’s called sleeping!
Nerd Fitness does a great job of explaining the science behind why fasting works:
- Our bodies are designed to burn the food we eat for energy and store the left over energy as fat.
- Since it’s easier to burn readily available energy in our bloodstreams (from that delicious burger you just ate) than stored energy (fat), our bodies will always turn to burning our most recent meal for energy before burning stored fat deposits for energy.
- Fasting forces our bodies to burn stored fat for energy instead of being lazy and burning our last meal.
- Conclusion: If you’re constantly eating all day your body will take the easy way out and burn that recently consumed meal as energy instead of stored fat. No wonder the mice that were allowed to chow down all day long were 40% heavier!
Now you can see how eating dinner, having snacks, and then eating another dinner at midnight can cause weight gain. Not only are we preventing our bodies from burning stored energy, but we’re consuming a larger number of calories doing it. 1 + 2 = even more stored energy aka more junk in the trunk, if you know what I’m saying.
In part 1 of this post I gave a few tips for how to reduce your calorie intake when flying. This time I want to talk about a simple solution for solving the timing issue: schedule a morning flight when possible.
The best way to counteract eating too much before and during a flight is simply to schedule a morning flight. When taking a morning flight you will probably be able to hold off on breakfast until your in-flight meal. Depending on the length of your flight, you’ll probably be served one more meal and/or snack. Once you land you can determine if it’s right for you to eat again, wait a few hours, or hold off until the next day; listen to your body and do what feels right. Time zone changes can also get tricky when it comes to eating and will be addressed in another post.
All-in-all, early morning flights are great! Maybe you have to wake up earlier than you’d prefer, but now you’ve eliminated pre-flight snacking, eating multiple dinners, eating way past your bedtime, and hopefully eating for 24 hours straight.
Traveling can get the best of our weight loss goals if we let it. Between consuming too many calories and continuous eating it’s quite easy to pack on a few pounds especially if you’re a frequent flyer. By being conscience of our calorie intake, and timing of our calorie intake we can minimize weight gain while traveling.
Remember that one flight won’t ruin your weight loss goals. Enjoy your trip and try not to stress too much about weight gain. As long as you make smart choice (most of the time), and keep in mind what’s most important to you (fitness goals vs. eating for the sake of eating), you will be completely fine!
Until next time,
P.S. Look for pictures of our most recent adventures in Europe on Facebook!
P.S.S. If you have any tips or tricks for travel hacking and fitness please leave yours in a comment below, or on our Facebook page!
Photo Credits: time to eat
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