How To Eat, Drink And Enjoy Your Vacations While Also Staying Shredded

I spent the past week in the greatest country in the world, Texas; specifically Austin, Texas. I went to college at Texas State, and many of my friends have moved to Austin. Austin is my stomping grounds.

I went there to meet up with a bunch of other fitness professionals for a weekend long work shop focusing on business development, and to also party my balls off and eat copious amounts of Texas barbecue. On top of all of that, I got to see lots of old friends.

It was essentially a week long vacation in which I spent most of my time in a drunken haze, while also trying to be productive and even getting some lifting in at the Onnit Academy.

When I work with clients who are about to go on a long vacation like this there’s always a bit of trepidation about how they’re going to manage vacation without completely ruining their diet. Especially if they know they’ll be drinking.

This is something I totally empathize with, and it’s a something I think hard about when I travel. I bust my ass to stay around 10% body fat, and a weekend completely off plan can ruin weeks of hard work.

I’m proud to say that I’ve got a pretty decent plan figured out when it comes to drinking and fat loss though, everything from how to prepare, what to drink, how to train, what to eat, and what to do after you get back.

And it’s high time I share that with you bros. Here is your guide to getting smashed and shredded.

How to prepare:

When you know you’re going to go all out and balls to the wall, you need to be aware that your calories on vacation are going to be all out of wack. I prefer not to track calorie intake, because I’m not trying to stress about that stuff.

Instead what I like to have clients do is prepare for a couple of weeks before hand by constantly under eating, and training just a bit more intensely.

For example: 2 weeks out from Austin I made a continual effort to eat about 300 calories under my maintenance level. That’s not a big deficit at all, but over the course of 2 weeks it works up to about 4,200 calories. That’s over 4,000 calories I’ve stashed away to play with on vacation. Not a bad start.

On top of that I typically like to start including some additional cardio 3-4 times a week. I respond well to steady state cardio, and that helps fat come off pretty quickly for me. For others, they do better with HIIT, barbell complexes, or circuits. Find what works for you, and start implementing it.

After the deficit and additional cardio I had given myself roughly 7,000 calories or so to work with during the week. I’m already kicking ass and vacation hasn’t even started.

What to drink:

I knew I’d be drinking constantly. And since I would be seeing old friends and a bunch of fitness professionals that I love to hang out with, there was no way I was going to bitch out and only drink water. I wanted to go balls to the wall.

The trick is going balls to the wall and being smart. I love beer, but it’s rather easy to drink a ton beer and throw back an additional 1,000 calories a night from alcohol alone. And since alcohol is a true empty calorie, I wasn’t about that life.

Instead my drink of choice became the Old Fashioned. The average Old Fashioned is about 155 calories, similar to a beer, but packs more of a punch. On top of that, shots were flowing like the Guadalupe River. That keeps calories down, but provides plenty of liquid courage for me to make an ass out of myself.

Pro tip: avoid mixed drinks with heavy mixers. Opt for low calorie sweeteners and straight liquor. Not only do you save calories, you look like more of a man.

How to train:

When you get a bunch of fitness professionals together your bound to do some hardcore training. That’s just a fact of life, even when all of you stayed out until 4am drinking and eating pancakes at Kerbey Lane and IHOP. No joke, one of us actually got cut off from bacon by the waitress at IHOP.

For me this didn’t mean I really trained any differently, but I did try and cut down rest periods to make each workout more metabolic, and burn through some extra calories.

I wasn’t trying to do anything crazy. I was just lifting heavy, doing some extra mobility work or other exercises between sets, and kept moving. This helped keep my heart rate high, and also helped me feel like a functioning human being again.

How to eat:

Just fucking eat, man. I’m not a fan of trying to stay on point all the damn time on vacation. I would actually like to round up the people who bring Tupperware containers of prepped food on vacation and throw them off a cliff into Lake Travis.

Unless you’re prepping for a big event like a bodybuilding show, wedding, or something similar then just go enjoy yourself, especially if you’re in an awesome food city like Austin. Enjoy the food trucks, enjoy the local fare, and don’t beat yourself up over it.

It’s natural to feel bloated and like you’ve gained 10lbs of fat, especially if you’ve been dieting before hand. Thanks to increased sodium intake and the high intake of carbs you’re going to carry more water.

The good news about that is that it’s not fat. It’s more difficult to put on pure body fat than you think, and a few meals isn’t going to do the trick.

Once you’re back home:

I’ve actually written about resetting your diet after a vacation, but to keep it simple; I’m a fan of intermittent fasting. It’s one of my go to tools for fat loss, and on my way back from Austin I fasted for close to 40 hours. That was easy for me because I was in the car most of the time, and the week had caught up with me in the form of a hangover from hell. The last thing I wanted to do was eat.

Once I started eating I kept it relatively “clean”. Lots of leafy greens and fibrous vegetables, along with plenty of lean proteins, and I kept carbs relatively low.

The combination of the fast, lots of water, and fewer carbs helped me flush most of the water weight. I actually weighed in 3lbs lighter when I got back than when I had left. Part of that is thanks to my metabolism working overtime thanks to the excess food, and also thanks to shedding that excess water. The body can do some crazy shit, bro.

The big takeaways:

Preparation is key. Prepare beforehand for your vacation, and then enjoy the fuck out of the vacation. That’s why you’re on vacation. Get some training in, but don’t stress about it. Enjoy the people you’re with, and make some awesome memories. You’ll look back and be happy you did.

If you ever find yourself freaking out about going on vacation and you’re unsure how to prepare, then don’t hesitate to reach out. I’ll be happy to help you figure out a plan to get smashed while staying shredded.

Tanner is a fitness professional and writer based in the metro Atlanta area. His training focus is helping normal people drop absurd amounts of fat, become strong like bull, and get in the best shape of their life.