How to Maintain Your Exercise Routine in the Holidays

managing the holidays
By Holly Smith, AccSD.


Holidays are a time for spending with family and friends. As the number of social events increase, however, so does the chance of compromising your training.

Rather than anything extreme (holidays are for enjoying!), limiting traditional holiday indulgences will help you continue eating around your exercise and performance goals.


Food, glorious food

Many restaurants don’t necessarily cater for the active appetite. Perhaps we need a special menu – gluten free, vegetarian… and athletic!

It is also no secret that foods eaten away from home are often higher in salt and fat – and often lack carbohydrates (sir, can I have some potato with my vegetables, please?). Additionally, in the summer holidays main meals often won’t be served until much later than you’re used to. If you’ve done multiple training sessions in one day, eating late can play havoc on your regular refuelling habits.

Dietitian Tip:

Eat something immediately after training or before you go out to dinner. It could be up to an hour before the main food arrives and you don’t want to fill up on high fat and high salt nibbles. A peanut butter sandwich, fruit and cereal bar or chocolate milk are great options.


You booze, you lose

The sad truth is most Australians don’t do much exercise. With that in mind, most of our work colleagues, friends, and family are not worrying about how alcohol is going to affect their exercise routine.

For athletes and active people, the reality is alcohol can affect performance in a number of ways:

  • Alcohol can delay recovery from soft tissue injuries. Instead of constricting blood flow (the reason for the standard ice and elevation treatment), alcohol dilates the blood vessels meaning a slower recovery.
  • Alcohol is a diuretic, making it harder for you to keep hydrated. Even being slightly dehydrated can affect your sporting performance.
  • Drinking your calories via alcohol means you miss out on important training fuels, such as carbohydrate. Despite popular belief, alcoholic drinks, such as beer and wine, are poor sources of carbs.

Dietitian Tip:

Set yourself a limit of two drinks. You know your friends or work colleagues will drink more than two, so stay away from their rounds and buy your own, alternating alcoholic drinks with soft drink or even better – water.


Stop, revive, survive

Rushing from training to a social event can be hard. Include a late-night function and this only adds to the challenge of re-fuelling. If you have more than one training each day, it’s even more important to pay attention to your re-fuelling needs.

When it comes to exercise, a good recovery involves:

  • Fluid – Replace your fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat.
  • Carbohydrate Top up your muscle glycogen stores.
  • Protein Repair muscle damage and build new muscle.

Dietitian Tip:

Start your function on the right foot: aim to be well hydrated within 4-6 hours after training. Depending on the intensity of your training, and your performance goals, refuel your muscles within 1-2 hours, using whole foods where possible.


With some forward thinking and prioritising your recovery goals, you can be sure your body will be topped up and ready for your next training session.