A few weeks ago, I posted an article about ‘Training while traveling’. Well, that’s just part of what a fitness lifestyle engulfs. Having a proper nutrition while traveling can prove itself to be even more of a challenge than exercising while away. Again, we receive a lot of tourists at our gym and many of our members have to travel for work, so keeping nutrition on point is very important. It is not uncommon for us to hear “Yeah I was out for two weeks, and you know, it’s really hard to eat well when you’re traveling”, so let’s get it straight: it is not that complicated to stay on track when you travel.
First things first, you need to be on track before you travel to aspire to have a good nutrition when you are away. If you are having a hard time with your diet at home, chances are it will be really hard to have a good diet somewhere else. If that is you, there are a few blog posts that can help you on our website. Or you can come in and talk to one of your CCF coaches about it!
If you have a basic understanding of your nutrition it will be easier to convert that into a travel-mode. Obviously, depending of the duration of your stay, it can get harder to maintain a proper nutrition but it is worth a try! Here are some quick tips on how to not fall off the tracks:
Be prepared for the trip
Sometimes, the plane or car ride to the destination is the worst part of keeping a good diet. Airports, airplanes, road-side stores and gas stations are not famous for their healthy options. So if you prepare for that you will be able to avoid eating that junk. It helps to know where you’re going and where you are passing through because there might be some healthy options on the way. The unknown will cause you to eat what’s in front of you.
Sometimes, it is as easy as putting some protein powder and maybe some nut butter powder in a shaker to-go. Or pack healthy snacks (protein bars, fruits, jerky, veggies, hard-boiled eggs, etc…). Depending on how you travel you can even make meals at home and leave them in Tupperwares that you can eat along the way. Sandwiches are also very reliable and easily accessible (as we will see later).
But the best thing you can do to not slack during the trip is to have a proper and nutritious meal before leaving. Unless you are driving for 20 hours, or taking a long overnight flight (and sometimes even in those cases), if you can eat a decent meal before you leave you should be set for the entire trip there. Make sure you get all your macro-nutrients and eat something fulfilling so you have less chance to “need to eat” as you travel.
Most importantly, you absolutely do not HAVE to eat in an airplane or car ride. It’s okay to be hungry for a few hours, your body will not start to eat yourself. Your muscles are not going to shrink in one day. It can pay off to wait a few hours and get a good meal later. People can get really caught up in their eating times and eat just because that’s when they normally eat.
Take a plane ride for example. You might have had a full meal before coming in, but now that you are an hour into the flight, they start serving “dinner”. You might not even be full, but you don’t want to “skip dinner” so you eat the pasta. A few minutes later they serve cookies as desert. Still part of dinner, right? So, it’s okay to eat them. You go to sleep and wake up 4 hours later to their next meal, breakfast. Bread, jelly, fruit, butter and cheese. Breakfast is the “most important meal of the day” so obviously you need it.
In a spam of 6-8 hour you ate more than you needed and in worse quality. When you sleep at night, you go 6-8 hours without eating. So don’t make yourself eat based just on the denomination of such meals. It’s more important to listen to you body and see what it needs and when than eating something because “it’s dinner time”.
Plan your meals ahead
This is the part that will take a little effort. If possible, it’s very helpful to research the area surrounding where you’ll be to look for healthy restaurants. Nowadays, many places have their calorie count and macro-nutrients breakdown online. Which makes easier to figure out where to eat and what to get. This can help us stay away from convenient *fast food* meals. If possible, somewhere in walking-distance can prove useful during late-night craves or time-rushing mornings.
Another option is to go to a grocery store and stock up for a few days. Specially if you have a mini fridge where you’re staying. Here is where sandwiches can be life-saving. Cold-cuts, lettuce wraps, veggies, cheese are all easy to store and can be made into yummy snacks. All of those other snacks mentioned above also can be taken to a hotel room and be eaten throughout the day.
Keeping yourself accountable plays a big role into sticking to any routine. Diets are not any different. By planning your meals ahead you can give yourself the responsibility to sticking to it instead of being a victim of the situation.
If you slack off, don’t lose track
It’s inevitable that we have a cheat meal here and there. Specially if you travel somewhere exotic and new. The worst thing we can do is to get down on ourselves. As we all know, food can be used for comfort. Getting upset and feeling like we have failed on keeping proper nutrition can have a domino effect. We have all seen that happen, with either nutrition or exercise. Once we start missing one, two, three good meals (or workouts) is easier to stay on that streak.
This is where planning ahead can help even more. Plan a cheat meal. Yes, you heard that right. But also plan to go back to a good diet the next day. Not only will you eliminate the guilt of slacking off but you will also have a contingency plan for the aftermath.
Travelling should be a fun and enjoyable time. Travelling for work doesn’t have to be more stressful than it already is. With a proper nutrition, not only will you stay on track with your fitness lifestyle, but it will support your mood, sleep and energy levels.
If you have any questions about nutrition, or any other fitness-related questions, come chat with your Celebration CrossFit coaches!
by Coach Matt