We Started A Low Carb Diet Before Our Vacation
The winter hibernation in Toronto added yet more pounds to our slowly increasing weight. It was time to take drastic measures. We started a low carb diet 10 days before we headed south on our Windstar Caribbean cruise. Our southern vacation included 6 days in Miami and then a 12 day cruise. When we returned home, we were happy to find that we had lost weight on a cruise vacation.
Typically when we weigh ourselves after we have returned from a vacation, we have gained weight. Food has often been exceptional when we cruised before. It was great to find that our vigilance during this vacation helped to drop some pounds off. But I will not say that it was easy.
We considered several diet options. But for both of us, carbs were not our friend. I sometimes thought that I gained weight just looking at pastries and bread.
Neither of us are big dessert eaters in general. That of course is true is you believe that chocolate is not really a dessert but a health food! Luckily we like our chocolate the darker the better, so at least it is more healthy for us. As long as the chocolate doesn’t come bundled with other not so healthy treats. The big killer for me is bread. The smell of fresh baked bread or toast just ready to pop gets every craving going. So some carbs were very hard to give up.
We used the Atkins diet as a base. They have a great online site and tracker that let us keep a food and exercise journal. I am a great believer that you can only manage what you measure. We then looked at the very popular keto diet which was an even stricter regiment than Atkins. That was our target. For most days, that meant that most of our carbs would come from a limited supply of low glycemic vegetables and maybe the occasional berries and nuts. The goal was to keep our bodies in a state of ketosis so that our body burned our fat.
In the 10 days before we headed south, we lost about 6 pounds. It was enough of a start to provide good motivation to keep the diet up. We definitely wanted to be able to report that we had lost weight on a cruise.
Protein Was King
Through our vacation, we sought out a good supply of protein at every meal. Breakfast was always the easier meal to manage. Breakfast buffets provided lots of options – eggs, cheese and bacon. Since fats are good on a low carb diet, we could eat bacon every day! Not a bad thing.
Lunch often meant tearing apart a perfectly good sandwich or burger to extract the meat. When we could, we ordered “without the bun”. In Miami, we found a great spot (the BurBowl) where we could order grilled chicken or a burger in a lettuce wrap. Toro Toro at the Intercontinental Miami served a great burger with no bun and topped with avocado. This was perfect. If only sandwiches were available, we ordered the ones piled high with meat or tuna and then discarded the bread. I was always happier if I just didn’t have to see the bread.
Dinner should have been easy. But it is amazing how many meals come with some kind of sauce, glazing or otherwise added carbs. If we could order with no sauce (or sauce on the side to not offend the chef), then we did. If there was no way to remove the carbs, we looked for something else on the menu. Many times we left a lot on the plate that we could not eat. Even when we asked to have specific carbs removed, the plate was delivered intact.
On several cruise nights, Windstar had great BBQ buffets. We always found a good mix of beef, chicken and seafood.
Keeping our protein levels up was an essential requirement to ensure we lost weight on a cruise.
Lower Carb Fruits And Vegetables
If you have ever done a low carb diet, you know which fruits and vegetables have a low glycemic index. We generally eat mostly low glycemic fruits and veggies so we thought we would be ok to eat as much as we wanted. But even low glycemic is not zero carbs. So we measured and counted our fruits and veggies to keep our carb count low. Half a cup of celery, broccoli, cauliflower or green beans were good. Both sweet peppers and onions had to be kept as garnish. We even bought travel sized measuring cups and spoons to manage portion sizes.
Fruit was a more slippery slope. We stuck to berries as our fruit treat. No more than a half a cup. But it was amazing that after we were off sugar for a few weeks, a few berries tasted so sweet. We didn’t need much for a treat. Luckily we were generally able to find fresh berries.
Keeping to the good carb fruits and vegetables certainly ensured we lost weight on a cruise.
Snacks and Treats
The list of allowable snacks and treats was pretty low. Atkins has a great line of bars and snacks that we made sure to stock up on. They got us through very long tour days.
Cheese and nuts were always an easy way to add protein and fat through the day. There was a small carb hit but the benefit outweighed the cost. But 10 almonds was a serving! It was easy to pack a small bag of nuts for a mid-day snack.
Careful regular snacking was essential to lose weight on a cruise.
Lots Of Fluids
It was necessary to drink lots of fluids on this diet. We needed to flush out the toxins and fat we burned. We drank water continuously (more than 10 cups per day). Clear tea was a replacement for water. Diet sodas were ok. But after a few weeks, they just tasted too sweet.
Coffee was definitely allowed. But we needed to drink it black or with heavy cream. It was strange to find out that lower fat milk had much more carbs. Every now and then, I had a cappuccino as my treat. These carbs had to be balanced off over the day.
Alcoholic drinks were something we had very sparingly. Most alcohol with no mix except soda water was about the same carbs as most wines. But if you had any form of alcohol, your body did burn the alcohol before it would go back to burning fat. When we wanted a drink, we generally kept to a few ounces of wine sipped very slowly.
We missed having a glass of wine with dinner more than most other things we gave up. But it was a sacrifice we made to make sure we lost weight on a cruise.
The Sacrifices We Made
The big foods we needed to avoid so that we lost weight on a cruise centred around breads and desserts. Breads were totally out. We tried a few no sugar desserts but most of these still had lots of carbs. And even when there were no carbs, the artificial sweetener made the desserts far too sweet for our taste. We passed by all the other sweet treats.
If we really wanted a treat, we indulged in one square of 90% cacao chocolate. We were already eating this high cacao count chocolate before the diet. We just needed to mind our portions. One square was our treat. But if you are a milk chocolate fan, it may take getting used to the 90% cacao. It is much more bitter. But after a few weeks with no sugar, it still definitely felt like a treat.
It was easier than we thought it would be to give up sugar treats. Occasionally as we wandered in port towns, we would get tempted with ice cream or gelato. But restraint meant we lost weight on a cruise!
And We Kept Moving On Our Vacation
We moved a lot around the ship. We always walked up and down the stairs. It was one of the things that was easier with the smaller Windstar cruise ship. We kept saying we would go to the gym and make the morning stretch class. But we never quite made it.
Many of our excursions were active adventures. Our zipline adventure in St Kitts burned adrenaline. And we also walked a lot through the rainforest. In St Lucia we snorkelled in Rodney Bay. And in Grenada we did a two tank scuba dive. The catamaran adventure in Martinique included yet more snorkelling. On these days I am sure we burned far more calories than we ate.
Most days we passed our fitness band step count targets. Without much effort, we logged several thousand steps and 10 flights of stairs just getting around the ship. And many days we went into the port and at a minimum did a short port walk. In Terre-De-Haute (an island of Guadaloupe), we did a long hike up and down the hills from one side to the other side of the island to go to the beach.
Keeping active was certainly a way to make sure we lost weight on a cruise.
Yes We Lost Weight On A Cruise
We generally did very well at sticking to our very strict diet on our stay in Miami and then on the cruise ship. We probably ate far too little vegetables. But we didn’t touch the bread or the sugary desserts. Over the course of 17 days, we didn’t even finish one bottle of wine.
So we were quite optimistic when we returned home and faced the scales. On our keto diet adventure, we lost weight on a cruise. We both lost about 5 pounds and were delighted! But our diet was not over. We still had much to lose before we left for our spring trip to Eastern Europe. And that trip would be very challenging to keep to our diet!
Would you believe that we lost weight on a cruise? Any other tips for avoiding weight gain on holiday?
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