Navigating the hotel breakfast buffet for weight loss

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Travelling with work is fun but sometimes it can mean fitness and nutrition is the first thing to go out the window! With some planning ahead and some simple tweaks it really doesn’t have to be this way though.  The hotel breakfast buffet is a great place to start and one that can really help set you up for the day if you navigate it right.  If you are looking to lose weight and have a work trip planned – here are my top tips for making it work for you…

Think protein first

It is on the company (you always eat more free food!) and presents the biggest selection of breakfast options you will ever see in one place, you therefore need a process!  Always think protein first.  Before you look to fill up on toast and cereals, get your protein in.  Whether that be eggs, salmon, beans, bacon, low fat yoghurt or ham, get that in first.  It will keep you fuller for longer and ensure you are well on the way to hitting your protein target for the day, especially when you don’t know what the rest of the day has in store.  Also use it as a chance to get well on your way to 5 a day.

Things to be wary of…

A couple of things to be wary of – not saying you need to avoid them completely, but just be mindful of.

Pre made scrambled eggs are often made with a hefty amount of butter or margarine to give them that (weirdly good) hotel slop texture – this quickly ramps up the calories.  Stick to a freshly made omelette, poached or boiled eggs if you are looking to be accurate with calories or save up for later.

Be wary of liquid calories too, all the juices and sometimes smoothies on offer are of course great for getting you on your way to 5 a day but can also add an easy 200kcal – 300 kcal to your meal.  Ask for skimmed milk in your coffee to save a few extra kcals as many hotels default to whole milk.

Granola can have a got of added sugars and fats and despite being DELICIOUS is extremely calorific- whilst these foods are often classed as are ‘healthy’ they quickly ramp up calories.  Dried fruits and nuts whether in the granola or not are also a sure fire way to start munching through your kcals too – when would you sit down and actually consume 6-8 apricots in one sitting? They also quite often contain added sugars which are just empty calories.

Fried items at the breakfast buffet like hash browns, fried potatoes or fried bread are also a watch out on the kcal front.

Combine hot & cold

If you have the time to indulge in a 3 course breakfast – fantastic.  Sadly this is often not the case when away with work when it is at the expense of a few extra minutes in bed or a quick gym session after a late night.  Rather than think hot or cold, combine – add some cold ham, smoked salmon or salad tomatoes to your cooked breakfast.  Add cold fruit to your porridge or some bacon to your pancakes.

Customise

Don’t be afraid to ask – you will be surprised how accommodating people are!  Ask for a double portion of ham in your omelette or whether you can have an egg white omelette.  If poached eggs aren’t available, ask whether the chef can quickly make some (they often can) and do for skimmed milk if it isn’t available on the side.  If there is a cooked breakfast menu, ask to sub things out or add extras.  Whatever it is that will help you hit your goals – it’s definitely worth asking.

Control your portions

Be wary of how much you are having.  Very roughly opt for a palm of protein, a cupped hand of carbs, a fist of veggies and a thumb of fat (2 of each for men).  You can’t then go far wrong.

Save the pastries and cakes until last

As tempting as they look, don’t dive in head first – absolutely enjoy them if you have room but save the until last.   That way you will have stocked up wholefoods first and will inevitably eat less therefore you won’t rack up as many calories in foods which don’t offer much in terms of nutritional benefits or keep you fuller for longer.

Acquire snacks

With meetings, eating out and additional travel, where and when you’re likely to get your next meal is a bit of a question mark.  If it is appropriate to do so, ‘acquire’ snacks for later in the day that will help you hit your goal – these can act as a back up should you need them e.g. fruit, nuts, yoghurts, boiled eggs!

Happy breakfast-ing!

My approach as a personal trainer and nutrition coach is all about balance – I am by no means suggesting you ban any foods or drinks and it is simply about making small lifestyle tweaks and building healthy habits that see you reach your goal and then maintain it into the future.  Take a look if this sounds like an approach that could work for you.

 All views are my own.