How can you prevent muscle loss during the summer holidays and partying?

Survive those few days with a minimum muscle loss when you move away from the chicken-rice-protein-workout axis and relax (or work) at a festival.

As summer, bikinis, the beach and the party season is on us, people rush to the gym, running tracks and dietary supplement stores. Smart people already start their preparation in January so they don’t have to rush that much.

So, you did get the shape (or close to what) you wanted for the partying, but is there something to be concerned about?

Yes, it is catabolism, a fully natural physiological process.

It’s when your body switches to “break down” mode. And contrary to common belief unfortunately it starts not with the unwanted fat, but with your muscles that you worked so hard to build.

Why is this?

It’s fairly logical when you think about it. Your body doesn’t get the right quantity or quality nutrients, and for the sake of survival it starts breaking down your energy consuming muscle tissues. Talking about energy – the retention of 1kg pure muscle tissue requires five times more energy than the retention of the same amount of fat.

You shouldn't forget that the dismantling of muscles happens more easily, too. This process automatically starts even when the body doesn't come under enough physical strain to make the retention of the muscles necessary.

Your body doesn’t want to get rid of it too fast since fatty tissue can be used for a number of purposes, for example:

  • Thermal protection
  • Physical protection
  • Support tissue for the internal organs (visceral fats)
  • And in the very last case it can be an energy reserve, too.

But let’s get to the point.

  • When you are at a festival partying until late night or early morning (or even later) you don’t necessarily keep track of the time and you don’t necessarily sleep enough for your body to regenerate. You might sleep 10-12 hours once the party is over, but the point is that you were jumping and dancing for hours beforehand.
  • While enjoying yourself and the company of your friends I doubt you are sipping BCAA or glutamine drinks. Instead, you are probably gulping down energy and other high sugar content drinks and it may not be presumptuous to say some alcohol, too. High sugar content drinks are useless calories, just like alcohol. They only worsen the situation. Why? Because alcohol, which is not only extra calories (7kcal/g), but it is also diuretic. It drains the body of water and other useful nutrients and it has an adverse effect on the hormonal balance (it reduces the testosterone levels, which doesn’t require further explanation).
    So, you are not only causing damage in the given moment, but also for days to come you won’t be able to operate at 100% efficiency.
    And don’t mislead yourself by saying that vodka mixed with clean soda water is not fattening! You can hear it fairly often and people really mean it. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but vodka with soda water is just as bad as if it was whiskey mixed with coke!
  • In all major festivals and events there are some healthy meals on offer, but they are very costly. So, it prompts you to look at the hamburgers, lángos (the typical Hungarian deep-fried flatbread), sausages and other delicacies that have nothing to do with the kinds of meals you would normally nourish your body with after workout or for lunch. These meals are rich in carbohydrates. They might contain some protein, but they aren’t the real stuff. Your stomach might be full, you might have enough energy for some of the games/physical activity and can better tolerate the shots you drink, but that’s all.
    And the next day, when you have a hangover, you will subconsciously crave for these meals, because they are delicious and they fill your stomach. You will not even think of chicken breast and broccoli.
  • You aren’t going to do any workout, that’s for sure. Without exercise your body won’t feel the urge to build and regenerate the muscles. Of course, you can go running or visit the “festival gym”, but I’m sure you are not going to break your personal record in that setting. And everything listed above is only a hindrance.

Of course, it can happen that you are there not to party, but to work, for example as a waiter. The same issues apply for you, too, except for the alcohol and the continuous workload. But these problems are further aggravated by the strain and stress your body is exposed to. So, what could be the solution for these problems?

  • Rest: in the days before heading out to party, try to rest as much as possible. It can be especially good to exclude the whole world by sleeping with earplugs and an eye-patch. If you are rested you will better manage the load and your body can deal with these obstacles more easily.
  • Drinks: I’ll be frank. I do drink a few pints every now and then, but I know my limits.
    You should also be moderate in your alcohol consumption. Just because your friends drink like a fish, you don’t have to follow suit. And if everyone gets intoxicated who will remember the stories to be told? You can also minimise the problem by not mixing the drinks. Stick to one type of alcohol on the given day (and preferably not too much, either). You can make your recovery easier if you drink as much water as possible to rehydrate your body and clean the “junk” from the previous night.
  • Meals: You can cheat a little a bit, but don’t eat like a pig, eating up everything that comes your way. There might be some grocery stores or better priced restaurants in the neighbourhood where you can get some healthier meals for less money. If your accommodation is equipped with a gas stove you can even cook for yourself. You know how to prepare the meals and can do the shopping locally.
  • Workout: Unless you have a massive headache from the night before, you can do some exercises that don’t require weights, like squats (holding it, with one leg), lunges (walking around or with one leg), push-ups (different positions for the hands, slower execution, holding etc.), crunches, leg raises, planking or some running in the neighbourhood.
    Your holiday is not about training, so the world won’t fall apart if you don’t give your best. However, if there is a gym nearby you may pay a visit and move all your muscles, because your swimwear looks better on a toned body and you will also feel better. It might not be your best workout experience, yet it is exercise, too! Having some rest days can be beneficial because afterwards you will be all ready and determined to fight the weights and challenge your own limits!

What if you really want to survive your favourite festival while enjoying it? Well, get ready with some dietary supplements!

  • BCAA: It is the best solution against catabolic processes. BCAA nourishes the muscles and it delays the start of self-decomposition.
  • Glutamine: It can be another excellent solution, which is very useful even if you happen to have a hangover (along with BCAA). You take these supplements with lots of water, which is also very good. Glutamine helps the effective functioning of the immune system, your intestines and internal organs, as well as muscle regeneration.
  • Grapeseed extract: I’m not talking about wine, but resveratrol now. It is an excellent antioxidant which makes your hangover belong to the past.
  • Multivitamins: you will probably urinate a lot during the festival. Alcohol has a diuretic effect, so lots of vitamins, minerals leave your body that will have to be replenished somehow. Your diet will not cover this, therefore taking some multivitamin is the easiest solution.
  • Vitamin C: It reduces the extent of your headache. Vitamin C also has an antioxidant effect. Many people keep Vitamin C on their bed-table so they wouldn’t forget to take it before sleep, because it can minimise your sickness when you wake up the next day.
  • L-carnitine: It has an excellent detoxifying effect, and it helps your digestive system to recover faster.
  • Protein shake: you don’t feel like cooking or you don’t like the long queue at the hot-dog place? A delicious Nitro Pure Whey shake is a better choice, but you should eat something solid afterwards, because it won’t satisfy your hunger for a long time.
  • Protein bar: In terms of function, it is similar to shakes, but a protein bar provides more calories and it also feels better to consume something solid.
  • Salt capsule: The alcohol you consume and the higher body temperature results in a higher liquid loss, which is coupled with salt loss, too. One capsule a day will settle it for you, while it also helps your body to fully absorb water, not only process it.
  • Protein Gusto products: a pre-packaged soup, oatmeal, a protein bar, a mug cake or pancake can be a life-saver at any time of the day. And it’s not the end of the world if you put regular jam or Nutella on the mug cake or pancake. The point is to eat something delicious and healthy.

But be careful! When your friends realise what goodies you brought with you, they might decimate your stock. So, either bring many goodies or be nasty and don’t share at all!

Once the partying is over I would suggest that you look at the first few trainings as some sort of a “get back” period, and go easy on your diet as well. Increase the load gradually, as you gradually increase the meal portions, too. In terms of supplements, in the first two weeks focus on the very basics: on proteins, vitamins and vitamin C only! From the second week onward you can start adding energisers, amino acids and anything else you were using before.

If you are indeed planning to take some time off and party, have a great time!

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