At the ISN office, we have a couple team members leaving for spring break next week, so looking great on the beach is top of mind. The honest truth is if you’re just considering this a week before you head to the lands of sand and sun, you’re way behind. Give yourself some peace of mind before summer by taking the habits you’re learning now and making them into a lifestyle. That being said, there are still a few tips for how to look great on the beach this season which you can employ right now to see results.
How to look great on the beach | Overview
While all foods have a time and place to be present in your diet, different nutrients play a different role in your body and will affect how you look in the short term.
When you’re trying to figure out how to look great on the beach, there are three strategies you can utilize to affect how you physically appear when you take your shirt off to lay out in the sand.
- Water retention
- Hydration level
- Sodium intake
It is worth noting none of these will make you lose fat and gain muscle in a week. They are going to affect your appearance not your overall health. Nothing replaces consistently followed, well-planned nutrition, exercise, and recovery plans. These are a bandage, not a solution.
How to look great on the beach | Water Retention
Water retention is a straight-forward idea. It is how much water your body is holding onto at any given moment. What nutrient most affects this? Carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates contain glucose, which is converted to glycogen in your body. Glycogen needs water to be stored in your body – in fact, everyone one glycogen molecule needs two water molecules to remain in storage. Therefore, when you have full glycogen stores, you’ll hold onto more water.
Best way to get rid of this water weight? Cut out your carbohydrates. In a past post, we talked about nutrient timing. This is similar, but rather than maintaining your usual carbohydrate intake just eating it at different times, you’re significantly reducing how many carbs you’re eating. Especially starchy ones.
Your carbohydrate sources should come from vegetables, a very limited amount of potatoes and high-sugar fruits like bananas, oranges, and pineapples, and high-fiber fruits like apples and berries. Reduce them to under 100 grams per day, and your water retention will go down.
How to look great on the beach | Hydration
It may seem weird to talk about hydration when also saying we want to reduce water retention in your body when planning how to look great on the beach. However, a well-hydrated body actually looks better than a dehydrated body. There is a science behind it, if you’re curious.
Hydration is especially important if you’re going to be flying to your destination. Airplanes are not only a breeding ground for sickness (another reason to stay hydrated) but the recycled air plays a number on your hydration levels.
Keep yourself healthy and looking your best by drinking 75% of your body weight in ounces of water when traveling. For a 150 pound person, that means you need 112 ounces of water. Drink up!
How to look great on the beach | Sodium Intake
This tip/trick goes back to our main point about water retention. Similarly to glycogen, sodium also makes your body hold onto water, thereby decreasing the likelihood you’ll look your leanest on the beach this vacation.
Think about the last time you ate a highly-processed food, such as chips. These are absolutely stuffed with sodium. Did you feel your best after that? Probably not. Take this lesson and apply it to how to look great on the beach.
While sodium shows up in processed foods, we also can be cognizant of how much we are adding to our meals. If you’re emptying a good portion of the salt shaker all over your home cooked meal, take a step back and use just a sprinkling. If you limit the amount you cook with, hold up on the hot sauce, and stay away from processed food for a few days, you’ll be shocked at the immediate impact on how lean you look on a day to day basis.
How to look great on the beach | Lifestyle Considerations
These tips will work for a quick fix – fighters and wrestlers have been using various forms of water manipulation for years and years to great success. However, it is important to recognize these are not sustainable habits for life. Starchy carbohydrates like whole grains, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes have a place in a healthy, well-rounded diet. Sodium is important for bodily functions. The hydration thing is important all the time, so use this as a chance to start a healthy habit of drinking lots of water.
The gift these tips can give you is confidence, and confidence looks great regardless of the situation. Show up your best this spring break – and be sure you are considering YOUR best, not what you see on the cover of some magazine. Don’t compare. Just be proud of your body and the work you’ve put into it.