Originally posted on Lucid Health Coaching’s blog
I’m Will Berkman – I’m a personal trainer, exercise/sports scientist and dietitian (although – full disclosure, I haven’t completed my accreditation). I’ve represented Australia twice in powerlifting with no great distinction. I’ve been as heavy as 116kg of handsome blob and DEXA scanned at <9% bodyfat at 85-87kg bodyweight so I guess I’ve run the full gamut of body composition short of doing a bodybuilding comp.
This is an article for lifters (or just general fitness enthusiasts) who want to know how to go about training/eating on holidays or whilst travelling to minimise regression. It’s not intended as a guide of how to take your neurosces about training and exercise overseas with you, rather it’s a look from first principles at what you can do so that you can enjoy your time away without trading in all of your gains or turning into a complete sack of shit.
Given this is being typed stream of consciousness style in a notes document from a hammock in Mexico, you’ll forgive me for not referencing properly (and possibly mis-citing people). I’m drawing on my knowledge of physiology and the general practice of strength training and sports nutrition, although I’ll obliquely refer to some literature here and there, probably.
Given this, however, if you have anything to contribute or want to correct the record, please go ahead and do so.
Firstly – what should we aim for when travelling? This question is part philosophical and part physiological.
For the former – if you’ve decided to take a holiday for a week or two, or go overseas for a number of months, I take it that you intend to relax and break your home routine. That means leaving behind structured training and nutrition, enjoying a variety of foods and experiences and placing your physique or athleticism at a lower level of priority. It’s not inconsistent with this to still enjoy training and take pride in your health and appearance, but just remember that trading up unique experiences to go to the gym, or forgoing relaxation and enjoyment of local cuisine to follow a diet plan is pretty abnormal and probably unnecessary.
So my philosophical take is – what is the least disruptive approach to training/eating you can adopt whilst away that preserves the physiological adaptations you desire. Ie – how can I do a minimum of training and eat maximally freely without sacrificing too much progress?
Which brings me to the latter, physiological, dimension. If you accept my philosophical argument that you’re on holiday for a break (and not a continuation of your training somewhere where you just need a little more aircon), then you’ll likely agree that rough maintenance of your current condition is the goal.
But that raises the more subtle question of which exact qualities we’re seeking to maintain. The answer in most cases should be muscle mass, or at least I think. As strength athletes, muscle mass is strength potential, and for those with physique goals, muscle is the most important asset you have.
Given my recommendations involve low(er) volumes and moderate intensities, that still might mean that powerlifters lose some top end strength, and bodybuilders will probably look a little flatter than they’re used to from the reduction in volume, and everyone might drop some work capacity from just training less. But, muscle takes time to build, and keeping it means keeping your base. The more transient adaptations I mentioned above can be built up relatively quickly again provided you don’t drop off too much muscle. Furthermore, maintaining those qualities tends to take types and volumes of training that could either be inconvenient or unrealistic when you’re away.
So – cliff notes so far – we want to maintain muscle as a primary goal – we want to do it in a way that is minimally disruptive to our enjoyment of our trip (meaning training minimal amounts and eating mostly freely)
Part 1 – Training
If you’re on a short trip, I can knock this out of the park straight away. In <2 weeks, the amount of muscle you’d lose from not training (short of bed rest) is minuscule. Doing some training (or some physical activity in general) could reduce the amount of general deconditioning you suffer and help you distribute holiday calories more favourably, but your muscles won’t fall off if you do nothing.
If in spite of that you DO want to train, you can follow my later recommendations. You could also time a short period of overreaching for just prior to your trip and use your time off for a deload/supercompensation, although in one respect I don’t see the point and in another I think the injury risk that entails risks denting your holiday plans more than losing some ab definition and needing to use the sharpen tool on your Instagram posts. Anyway, the long and short of it is you can do whatever you want or nothing at all and it will hardly matter, so you do you.
But what about on longer trips? Say you’re travelling for a month, or 6 months? Eventually your muscles do start to fall off with detraining, and that’s unfortunate.
It’s often bandied about that doing approx 1/3 of the volume you developed your muscle mass with is enough to maintain it. Off the top of my head, that comes from a study in which researchers had participants build muscle for a few months with 3 sets per workout, before a detraining period where some did nothing and some did 1 set/workout, with the latter group maintaining all of their gains.
On a more anecdotal level, I’ve seen Lyle McDonald recommend reductions in volume in the order of 1/3-1/2 for muscle maintenance during cutting phases (on the basis that you won’t build appreciable muscle anyway and your recovery capacity is less while dieting), so doing 1/2 your normal training and maybe a little less is at least a tenable place to start.
For the purposes of making more concrete recommendations I’m going to speak in terms of numbers of sets. If we make the assumption that I’m talking about sets of 6-12 reps mostly, that’s a good enough measure. A recent meta analysis by Schoenfield found a dose response relationship between volume and hypertrophy, with >10 sets a week per muscle making more gains than lower volume conditions, although it’s important to note that even the low volume conditions still gained muscle. My ballpark guess at the number of sets (or equivalent volume) that most fairly well trained folks who ACTUALLY make gains (ie aren’t doing too much) do is approx 15-20. So aiming for a plan that has you doing 6-10 sets per week per muscle is not only about appropriate for our “1/3-1/2 normal volume” target, it’s also demonstrably enough volume to signal to build (ergo maintain) muscle. If you’re pretty well trained, making actual gains on break is a pipe-dream, but for the relatively untrained you might even almost progress provided you train hard.
Another review (Wernbohm?) concluded that something like 30-70 (?) reps per muscle 1-2x/wk is likely optimal for growth, which at 6-10 reps per set isn’t too far off what most people do, and my recommendations would have you marginally undershooting that, meaning you’re not training optimally for growth (we don’t care about optimality at this point) but you’re not so woefully short that you’ll end up looking like a noodle either.
So we want about 6-10 sets/wk of volume per muscle. Don’t overthink it – if there’s significant crossover (think shoulders and chest) then undershooting one marginally is probably fine. Don’t worry about your adductor magnus tack-on volume between squats and deadlifts.
Now for frequency. It’s much less important than volume for growth, and given I don’t think it’s worth worrying about training in a two week trip, you could feasibly do a marathon session once per week and probably be ok, but that’s pretty dumb and hard and likely you wouldn’t really be able to train hard enough to make it work just because of fatigue. Aiming for two sessions per week where you hit 3-4 sets per muscle is much more achievable and very likely better as you’ll do more quality sets/reps and I suspect just stimulating some muscle growth more occasionally than once/wk is better when each pulse of stimulus is underwhelming.
Recent literature has shown an advantage to training twice per week for growth (more was no better, although if I remember correctly another recent Schoenfield review found no advantage when volume was equated between 1-3x/wk training so it may not be strictly necessary – is this correct Luke?) and if you do 3-4×6-10 twice a week you’re at the low end of Wernbohm’s recommendations too, so that’s the sweet spot for mine.
Training twice a week is also practical. It’s not hard to find two non-consecutive days per week where you’re not hungover to go to the gym for an hour on most trips. Where it’s not possible, even one slightly higher volume session could hold you over.
Having a third session of top up volume (to bring your set count per muscle up to 10-12) could be great if you find the time, but it’s not likely necessary and I wouldn’t plan for it just from the perspective of staying free to choose to do other things. Besides the opportunity cost of going to the gym on holidays, it also costs money unless you happen to be staying somewhere with a gym included, so training unnecessarily often is just another expense.
Note that the sample routine I provide is a full-body session. This is because if you DO miss a day, you’ve still hit every muscle once/wk with a decent dose of volume, and also because if you’ve done it twice you can always make your third bonus session just a gunshow if you’re really that way inclined without leaving anything on the table.
So that covers frequency and volume – we want to distribute 6-10 sets across the week on a time efficient basis, which amounts to 2 full body sessions/wk with a spare one if you feel like it. Each session should probably have 3-4 sets per muscle group both because maths and because that puts it at the low end of the recommendations we have for stimulating growth which to me says we’re on track.
Now for intensity. While volume reductions are absolutely fine during maintenance periods, intensity must be maintained to prevent muscle loss. Given that up until now I’ve been talking about doing sets of 6-12, I should clarify that I mean on a set by set basis, you should aim to maintain your weights. If you normally squat 100kg for 3×6-8, that’s your performance goal now, too. I’ve been mentioning sets of 6-12 for practical reasons. Whilst it’s possible (where volume is equated – thanks Schoenfield) to make equal muscle gains with lower reps and more sets, it’s harder, takes longer per session, potentially more injurious/less sustainable and not practical when you’re just picking a gym on the road. 6-12s are heavy enough to generate reasonable mechanical tension (a big driver of growth signalling) whilst still accumulating decent amounts of volume in a few sets. Much lighter and your sets will need to be more or less to failure to be stimulative (in which case you’ll be too tired to do repeat sets) and I’ve already alluded to why much heavier is probably more effort than it’s worth. Doing sets of 6-12 should equate to loads of 65-80% 1RM for lifts where you have a known 1rm. Otherwise, using an estimation of reps in reserve is perfectly fine. If you aim for 2 reps in reserve on a movement in those ranges and don’t pussyfoot it too much you should be fine.
Under intensity, just because I’m obliquely talking about it, I’ll mention failure proximity. Due to lower weekly volumes and likely doing only one exercise per muscle per day, you can afford to train closer to failure than you normally would without the normally associated negatives of impaired recovery and poorer performance within your session. As training to failure is more stimulating (and entails maximal recruitment of muscle fibers – this is good for maintaining muscle) it might even be a good idea to take your last set to failure. The increase in injury risk is also likely to be negligible, too, provided you define failure as inability to complete another rep with good form, and not as enduring a pseudo-epileptic episode under the bar.
On a similar note for load-selection, given your preparedness to train when travelling is unlikely to be as consistent as it is at home (due to sleep, activity, food etc changing day to day), having a target rep range at a given load and adjusting per your performance is best. If you come in aiming to squat 100kg for 3×8 and feel flat and only do 3×8,6,6, that’s ok (although ideally long term your performance would bounce back). Being able to autoregulate on a day to day basis (as opposed to chronically getting worse) is important for continuing to get adequate stimulus without risking injury. And if you wake up on a day you INTENDED to go train and genuinely don’t feel up to it, you don’t have to. You’re on holidays.
I don’t think it matters enormously whether you undulate intensity (one day doing mostly sets of 6-8 and one day doing mostly sets of 10-12), whether you pick one rep range all the time, or whether you do reverse pyramid training (a set of 6, a set of 8, a set of 12 with progressively lighter loads) from a muscle maintenance standpoint. I’ll leave that to you – I’m too lazy to change the load on the bar 90% of the time so I’d be inclined towards straight sets where I only adjusted the load if I overshot or undershot wildly.
So – intensity summed up: Choose a load in the 65-80% range, or something you think you can do 6-12 reps with. Do sets close to failure, adjusting load if necessary so that you’re loading about that zone, and maybe take a set or two all the way to concentric failure.
So, a sample routine
- Squat variation/quad dominant exercise 3-4×6-10
- Deadlift variation/ham exercise 3×5-8 Bench/horizontal press variation 3-4×6-12
- Horizontal row variation 3-4×6-12
- Overhead press variation 2-3×6-12
- Vertical pull variation. 2-4×6-12
- Optional – any arms/shoulder isolations/abs/calves you want in a little circuit
Notes – Squat variations: all squats/hack squat/slit squat/leg press/leg extension Dead variation: often gyms aren’t deadlift friendly, if so combine a knee flexion (ham curl/nordic/ghr) exercise with a hip extension (DB rdl, good morning, hip thrust, back extension) and do 2 sets of each For pressing/pulling I’d try to do one press with a closeish grip and one pull underhanded for extra bicep/triceps stimulus as I’m too lazy to do isolations most of the time.
You’ll notice the general lack of fluff involved in the routine. There’s a multitude of choices that could fill each exercise slot, so yours should be subject to familiarity and availability. Large, compound exercises should be your go to – they are highly efficient and can train multiple muscles effectively (reducing the amount of exercises you need in a session). A benefit to squats/deadlifts especially is that they train your postural muscles effectively in ways that leg curls/extensions don’t. As a useful heuristic, if you’re having to pick a novel exercise, look for large (preferably multijoint) movements that take one or more target muscles through a full range of motion under considerable tension.
So, let’s say you’ve actually done what I’ve said above for 6wks-6 months and suddenly you’re back home. You’ve done a good job of maintaining your muscle and want to get back into training for real – what should you do? Most people will benefit from an introductory cycle focused on increasing work capacity again. Rapid increases in training load/volume are a primary cause of many soft tissue injuries. If you’ve adapted to doing 1/3 of the work of normal, increasing immediately to a full dosage is a recipe for injury (which will do far more to harm your gains than moving slower). Spend 3-6 weeks reintroducing exercise variety, adding sets and increasing intensity at only a marginal rate until you’re ready to begin a true developmental block again.
If you happen to have been gone a particularly long time, or have detrained significantly, this first developmental block might also need to start with lower volumes and intensities than you were previously accustomed to. Beginning light and progressing slightly faster than a regular trainee (as regaining gains is easier than making them initially) is your best bet. If you’re curious about WHY regaining lost muscle is quicker/easier than building it, read up on the myonuclear domain and satellite cell differentiation, but essentially your muscles have all the little cellular tools/resources they need to build and sustain a larger size just sitting about, waiting for you to resume training.
So that more or less covers training. To sum up: Do full body sessions with 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps, closeish to failure, approx 2x/wk (you can have some wiggle room provided you get about 6-10 sets/wk in) and where possible pick large compounds for efficiency. Aim to maintain working weights relative to what you used at home.
Part 2 – Nutrition
If our training is designed for muscle retention, our diet can assist that. The other concern with travellers tends to be coming back a little pudgy. Euro trippers are familiar with the “Heathrow injection” (5-8kg of fat) and when you couple that with detraining, that’s the recipe for the post-travel Michelin man look.
This section is largely going to be commonsense rather than super duper concrete numbers or crazy nutritional hacks, but hopefully you’ll read it and nod your head here and there.
Let’s address not getting awfully fat first – this is largely a matter of energy balance. Provided you are doing some training you won’t experience an unfavourable recomposition (change in muscle/fat ratio) at a similar weight. (Side note – I’d call that decomposition but the connotations are bad. Travel safely or you’ll experience decomposition in spite of my recommendations).
So we don’t want to eat excessively, but I also think counting calories on a holiday is pretty lame, and considering you’re likely to eat a lot of unfamiliar foods in uncontrolled portions, it’s pretty impractical too. Your best bet is simply to use food choice as a proxy for controlling energy intake, maximise energy output (I’ll cover that) and use satiety signals appropriately.
But quickly – the similar spiel about <2 week trips. You could actually gain some fat on a 2 week trip if you tried. Not much, unless you tried to do everything wrong, but you could. The question should be do you care about a very marginal increase in fat in exchange for letting your hair down, and if so are your behaviours likely to really be as damaging as to justify your neuroticism? That is – if you’re really worried about being visibly, meaningfully fatter (as opposed to just looking a bit watery and flat from not training) are you actually GOING to have ice cream for breakfast, cake for lunch and cream cheese for dinner, all washed down with coconut cocktails?
(If you are a normally rigid dieter or you normally follow a very regimented eating plan and you DO think you’ll “lose control” and eat like that without your normal structures, in spite of your concerns for the consequences, you should seek help. There’s a lot of subclinical disordered eating in the health and fitness community. A degree of dietary restraint and vigilance is obviously necessary to achieve a top level physique or high performance, but your dietary restraint/healthiness should exist more on a dimmer switch basis than with a hard on/off switch).
Now, if you ARE likely to eat like a pig, and that’s just your idea of a holiday, and you’re not concerned, then I suppose go for it, provided you can get back on the horse with your healthy lifestyle afterwards. The intelligent/obvious thing to do is live a happy medium lifestyle. Have some treats/drinks and otherwise eat a balanced diet of largely “healthy” foods as are available, with some protein at your main meals, and then just resume your normal nutrition when you’re home. In 2 weeks you can’t go so egregiously wrong having 3 square meals and some snacks for it to matter, so don’t worry.
For longer trips, as with training, unfortunately your dietary choices will really start to add up. I’ve said food choice is your best tool to stay in shape and healthy. Consider this – more or less nowhere in the world (outside of America, maybe) are people overeating or getting overfat eating mostly staple foods. I’m in Mexico right now – the staple foods are corn, beans, chicken/meats/seafood (pretty physique-friendly). In southern Italy people eat a Mediterranean diet. In Hungary I ate stews, goulash and stuffed potatoes. If you subsist largely on the “wholesome” foods of a given culture, rather than the desserts (think churros, gelato) you’re already partway there. It’s akin to what I said about 2 week trips – if you’re choosing to live on dessert, you’re doing yourself no favours, but you don’t have to.
So point one is sample the local fare but do so as a local would (with the normal delineation between meals and treats).
Point two is to consume some protein at each main meal (for most people travelling, that will be 3 meals/d, especially if your accomodation provides breakfast and/or dinner).
Protein is the wonder macronutrient for weight management and body composition. It is the most sating (it keeps you full), you expend more energy metabolising it than other nutrients and higher intakes aid in building and retaining muscle.
How much is “some” protein? I think numerical values are impractical for travellers (I’ve already said that counting calories/macros on a trip is silly) so I’ll pull a couple from my ass purely for context’s sake and then give a more practical answer. A catch-all intake for strength athletes is approx 1.8-2g/kg of bodyweight per day. You can absolutely get away with lower (in fact, in my first sports nutrition lectures they argued for lower, like 1.4g/kg, but there’s plenty of reason to think higher is better and practically no downside provided you’re in possession of functioning kidneys and aren’t consuming inadequate amounts of other foods to get extra protein in). Higher than 2g/kg also has its place.
When travelling, though, unless you’re on the steak tour of Argentina or the boerwurst tour of South Africa, you’re pushing shit uphill trying to get that much.
Still, if you have 2 meals of 0.4g/kg/bw and one meal of 0.6g/kg/bw or similar across the day you’re at 1.4g/kg and your snacks might get you to 1.6+, which isn’t too bad.
So what does 0.4g/kg look like? For an 80kg male that’s a meal of 32g/protein (Off the top of my head 20-30g/meal maximises the anabolic response to protein, although the anticatabolic effects continue at higher doses? Luke? My point being that hitting 25-35g in a meal makes a reasonable contribution to a reasonable overall target for muscle retention under suboptimal conditions of intake whilst also being enough of a signal for your muscles to do some building). A small caveat – older folks tend to have a degree of “anabolic resistance” and so need a higher dose of protein for the same response. But unless you’re an octogenarian globetrotter with physique goals, getting 25-35g/meal in is a good start, ideally with one or two meals a day containing more again.
It’s not HARD to get 25-35g of protein in a meal in most places, either. If you’re in European hostels, where free breakfast is usually just orange juice and toast, it might take a bit more planning (eg buying some eggs and making an omelette) but beyond that, consuming that amount shouldn’t be a chore. Having a larger meal with a larger portion of meat (or fish or another quality protein source) daily is a good idea to bolster intake further, and again that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve through selecting some animal protein sources in the street.
Given that my protein recommendations are on the low side of optimal, and given that adhering to them can be difficult and occasionally outside of your control, supplemental protein around your workouts may actually be beneficial. The marginal benefit to periworkout protein is far increased under conditions of suboptimal intake, so consider buying a shake or just timing your training for an hour or two either side of a large protein meal.
So we have the general instructions of eating local fare but consuming staples as staples and treats as treats, and consuming protein at each meal.
In practical terms that will dictate food selection a little bit, favouring options containing meat/dairy/eggs.
This article is very long, so I don’t want to get too bogged down in telling you all the healthy foods that exist in the world. But beyond having an appropriate per meal dose of protein, choosing largely vegetables, fruits and wholegrains to round out your main meals is a good start. Not only is it healthy, it’s often cheap (seriously – buy a bag of carrots or some funny-shaped fruits sometime, it’s a joke) and these foods are well known to be great for weight management. Eating to satiety on a diet consisting largely of whole foods and punctuated (rather than dominated) with dessert foods is, in the absence of counting calories, the best way to moderate energy intake. Again – forgive my lack of citations, but on a meal by meal basis energy density is very closely linked to energy intake. Whole foods, especially the aforementioned, tend to be great choices in that regard.
So, cliffs on food are basically eat protein every meal, have fruit/veg/wholegrains, eat when you’re hungry and until you’re full.
The elephant in the room is alcohol. MOST travellers drink – it’s a hugely important social aspect of travelling, it’s pretty much always cheaper than at home and it’s just fun to party when you don’t have to deal with Sydney’s shitty bureaucracy and lockout laws.
Firstly – although it’s energy dense, alcohol isn’t inherently fattening. However, being drunk and eating a ton of crap and being too hungover to move/train (and then eating poorly in your misery) is a pretty poor way to go. Chronic high alcohol consumption also does a bunch of not nice stuff that is probably outside my remit to cover to your hormones, liver and so on. So it’s not a health food and it’s not IDEAL for training. However, the main issues lifters have with alcohol normally are impacts on dietary adherence, reduction in sleep amount/quality (ergo impaired recovery), dehydration, poor decision-making due to fatigue and interference with training schedules. These issues are actually largely mitigable when travelling, or at least less of a drama. If you’re only planning to train twice/wk, having a night of not drinking and a decent sleep before your session isn’t too much to ask. Plus, with lower weekly volumes, fatigue (and therefore recovery demands) aren’t as high.
That leaves us with the issue of dietary adherence and honestly, my major piece of advice here is just to have your main meals as I suggested and consider a night of drinking your dessert (as opposed to having a treat as you may otherwise). You can do some push/pull with your food to leave calories to spare for drinking and so on, but really, if you stick away from crazily sugary cocktails and have beers/wine/spirits with soda or diet drinks, and don’t go absolutely ballistic day-in and day-out, it won’t do too much harm to your physique to drink 2 or 3 times a week. And if you DO want cocktails or drinks and food, then by all means, you’re on holidays, I’d just be mindful. If the majority of your food is “healthy” per my previous instructions, you’ll have a little caloric buffer to work with anyway.
I’d strongly recommend reading the article
for more on what I’ve had to say on alcohol. There is a (mis)conception that alcohol itself is inherently damaging/catabolic which isn’t the case. It’s obviously not a health food either, but don’t let fear of your muscles disappearing and becoming overwhelmingly fat stop you having a drink while you travel.
The final thing I want to mention is maximising caloric expenditure. Especially with a lower training load, one of the best things you can do to prevent yourself being a blob is to move. Not only is it healthy, it also maximises the freedom you have in dietary choice and drinking without spilling over into fat gain.
Although you may only choose to train 1-3d/wk when you travel, you have the opportunity every day, anywhere (more or less) to go for a walk, or a swim, or a surf/paddleboard/kayak/bike ride, climb, ski, or something. In a foreign city, especially if you don’t use taxis or buses more than necessary, it’s not hard to rack up 20-30,000 steps per day. You don’t have to consider it regimented exercise for it to be beneficial.
When we look at the components of metabolism, we have basal metabolic rate (your body keeping the systems ticking over), exercise energy expenditure, the thermic effect of food (energy burnt actually metabolising food) and other activity (called non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT, because it’s cool). NEAT is by far the largest modifiable contributor to how much energy you burn. If you want to have room for gelato and some drinks at night, get off your butt and walk the cinque terre for a while, or go for a cycle through your city. But actually getting out and being a tourist is a great way to burn some energy. Inactivity sucks, and it’s a great way to miss out on seeing a lot of places. Obviously I can’t dictate the type of holiday you choose to have, but giving yourself the opportunity to move is a good idea, and where you can’t/don’t (eg if you’re on a cruise or you happen to be lying on a sunbed 24/7) then factor that in to your portion selections if you’re worried about your physique.
It’s worth noting that habitual exercise appears to improve appetite regulation. I’m aware of a study by Long in which groups were fed a preload of either high or low energy drinks (they didn’t know which). Groups of exercisers moderated their intake at a subsequent meal in line with the amount of energy that the researchers had snuck into them, but non-exercisers didn’t. Part of why I’m comfortable saying that satiety can be a good indicator of how much food to eat for active, training travellers is that when your food selection isn’t terrible, you’re well-equipped to modulate intake appropriately (although the evidence I mention above is specifically short-term, I suppose). But anyway, being active helps you know how much to eat. And another great thing about not sitting on your butt all day is it keeps you occupied, and when you’re occupied you don’t tend to snack as much. Having distinct eating and non-eating occasions delineated by periods where you’re active or resting/sleeping, as opposed to grazing, can only be a good thing.
So I’m gonna wrap it up here because I’m babbling with stuff most people already know. In super short
– you want to maintain muscle first and foremost – You mightn’t look as pumped/full, but doing 6-10 sets of 6-12 reps/wk per muscle group using big, efficient moves with some fluff if you feel like it is a great start. – Training twice a week should be enough for this. You can do a little more or miss the odd session and be ok – if you eat mostly the staple cuisine of wherever you are and have treats as treats you’re on track – aim for some protein at every meal. 20-35g/meal with a meal or two a day with more is reasonable and achievable – Have some periworkout protein – Other than adequate protein, just eat mostly healthy food. – Alcohol is ok, just don’t have a million every day. Don’t be hungover and train where you can avoid it. There are better and worse drinks. – Being active all the time helps give oh more calories to work with and helps regulate appetite.
Ps – drink water. But make sure it’s safe wherever you are first