So you spent all winter and spring working on your “beach bod” and it’s now time for you to show off your masterpiece to your friends as well as multiple stranger-filled crowds. While your adoring fans can’t wait to see the product of all those gym and dieting days, you’ve got one big question: “How on earth do I maintain this body throughout the summer?”
Sure, going to the gym will help keep things tight, but your nutrition is what will make or break your physique. In a season full of barbecues and social gatherings, it can be difficult to stick to your meal plans and daily macro-nutrient targets. For this reason, I have selected a few guidelines to help you stay on track this summer. These are helpful even if you haven’t yet achieved your ideal summer physique.
Tip #1: Listen to your stomach
Eat regular meals, but be aware of portion sizes. You don’t have to finish all the food on your plate if you’re no longer hungry; save it for later. Pretty soon you will be able to more accurately estimate the amount of food you really need to satisfy your hunger. Over-eating usually happens when you eat past the point where your hunger has been satisfied.
Tip #2: Plan for cookouts or barbecue gatherings
If you’re going to a cookout, eat first so you’re not starving when you get there. This will help reduce the risk of over-eating. If you do want to indulge a little, plan to do some kind of cardiovascular exercise the following day. You may be a little bloated (hold excess water) from eating high-sodium foods, so breaking a sweat is a great way to regulate your body fluids. Also, drinking a lot of water will help flush your system of excess salt.
Tip #3: Prepare your own food
Cooking your food is a good way to keep you on track in your diet and nutrition goals. When you do groceries for your meal prep you have a chance to pick more nutritious, lower calorie options. This gives you more control over the nutritional value of the food you consume. Make grocery lists before you go shopping and stick to them!
Tip #4: Keep track of your food
The saying “ignorance is bliss” is not a good fit when talking about eating the right way. It’s always good to know what you are consuming on a daily basis. Being aware of this can have a direct effect on the decisions you make about food. I use MyFitnessPal to track the food I eat. It lets you set daily caloric and macro-nutrient goals. It also has additional resources such as fitness and nutrition articles to help you stay on track.
Tip #5: Practice smart drinking
This applies to both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Avoiding beverages with sugar and high amounts of fat will help keep your daily caloric intake down to what you really need. A simple choice like wine instead of beer can help keep the amount of liquid calories consumed in check.
Tip #6: Eat whole foods most of the time
A good rule of thumb when trying to maintain your summer physique is eating nutritious whole foods majority of the time. Processed foods will usually have higher amounts of fat, sugar or sodium than you want to consume. If you do consume some processed food, try to keep it to a minimum so most of your calories come from whole food sources.
Tip #7: Cheat responsibly
Cheat meals can be a very useful tool to help you “reset” psychologically when used the right way. The main purpose of a cheat meal is to satisfy a craving without jeopardizing your current nutrition lifestyle. Keep them to a minimum; I recommend one or two cheat meals a week at the most. And if you don’t need a cheat meal, you don’t have to indulge. Cheat meals become a problem when they start happening too often; cheat “meals” turn into cheat “days” or cheat “weekends”.
What has been the biggest challenge for you in the past when trying to stick to your diet or nutrition plan during the summer? Comment below so we can discuss and share stories…