Help! Will I Fall Out of Shape If I Don't Work Out on Vacation?

by Jessica Cassity

Arthur BelebeauArthur BelebeauNope. If you're fit -- and since you're worried about slacking, we bet you are -- you won't suddenly decondition (the scientific term for turning to mush). But there are some notable effects. After a week without exercise, your body becomes less efficient at removing glucose from your bloodstream. This could slow your metabolism by 4 percent, according to research from Paul Arciero, professor of health and exercise sciences at Skidmore College. Sounds minor, but it means you'll burn 80 fewer calories per day, which could lead to a 2-pound weight gain in just two weeks. And there's the mental toll. After 72 hours off, regular exercisers felt more dissatisfied with their bodies, researchers found. But relax, this is not a permanent downshift. You can enjoy those sunny moments and quickly get back on track.

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Had your fun? Here's how to undo the damage.

Sprint: Get your body back into fat-burning mode with this high-intensity cardio-interval program from researchers at the University of New South Wales: Go all-out for 8 seconds, then recover for 12, working your way to 20 minutes, three times per week.

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Squat & Lunge: Training big muscles (butt, thighs) zaps more cals than working smaller muscles (biceps, triceps). Up your burn by doing an extra two sets of 12 squats and 12 lunges during strength sessions, says trainer Gina Dody of Laguna Beach, California.

Eat: Protein makes you less hungry and requires more energy to digest, which helps reverse that metabolism nosedive, Arciero says. Aim for five protein-rich mini-meals (about 20 grams each) per day with one post-workout for max benefit. Neat, pass the meat!

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