Mythbuster: Will I Gain Weight on a Cruise?


Will I Gain Weight on a Cruise?

Ask the guy who knows his ships.

By Robert McGarvey

Porthole Cruise Magazine Cover

Of course you will, if you spend all your time bent over the buffet. But you won’t, will you? Cruising no longer is just about chewing — it’s about getting out and doing — and believe me, you’ll find plenty of activities to burn off any extra calories.

With 24/7 dining options, from on-deck pizza to gourmet specialty restaurants, it’s easy to eat on a cruise and to leave the ship a few pounds heavier than before you boarded. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Carol Wolin-Riklin, a registered dietitian at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School, says, “When my husband and I took an Alaska cruise we gained no weight. Not a pound. And we had a great cruise.”

Little things, she explained, are how she dodged onboard weight gain, and hers are steps any cruiser could easily follow. For instance:

• Buffet Basics: “Walk the buffet line first to see what’s in it,” suggests Wolin-Riklin. “If you know exactly what’s there, you can watch your portions better.” Otherwise, it is easy to fill up one plate — and then a second because it turns out there is so much great food.

• Drink Down: “Drink zero-calorie liquids,” urges Wolin-Riklin, who warns, “It’s easy to drink 1,000 calories a day on a cruise” (around 40 percent of an adult’s total daily calorie intake). A big glass of OJ in the morning, a sugary soft drink with lunch, a specialty cocktail at sunset, and wine at dinner will make those calories quickly rack up. Her advice is to focus on water and diet drinks. If you want to splurge on a cocktail, she says, ask for a “skinny” version. Cruise bartenders have gotten good at making these drinks, which cut out sugary syrups and thus lower calories.