Traveling and good nutrition for most people go together like water and oil.
So to truly accomplish a life change, we have to attack this way of thinking head on.
It is not realistic to think we have to stay in the same routine, never travel, and never go on vacation to stay on point with our nutrition goals.
In this article, I want to give you the knowledge to adapt on the move and to empower you to plan ahead and stay in the game!!
When addressing traveling and nutrition, we have to always plan ahead. I cannot say this enough!! When training for an event, you do not just show up; you prep and game plan. This might sound intimidating, but it’s really quite simple. Start by making a road map of your entire trip and plan accordingly.
First you need to consider: are you flying or driving?
When driving, loading the car with food and drinking water is relatively easy. But when flying, you don’t want to load your one carry on bag with a bunch of food, and we all know you can’t take liquids through security. To address this, I carry an empty half-gallon bottle with me and just fill it up at the drinking fountain once I’m inside the airport. And in terms of food, you want to carry things that don’t spoil fast and don’t require utensils.
Don’t get me wrong — you can totally cook and carry Tupperware into the airport, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
When choosing travel foods, choose those that are predominately one food group. For instance, a doughnut is fat and carbs. Two food groups, not a good choice. Some good examples are as follows:
Carbohydrates: Apples, Oranges, Pears, Bagged Celery, Cucumber.
Protein: Jerky, Chicken Pouches, Tuna Pouches
Fats: Walnuts, Almonds, Macadamia Nuts, Cashews
You can easily bag a few of each of these foods and carry them everywhere you go. The most important thing is to have something with you at all times.
Once you get into this habit, the next items to address are portion size and timing. To help you understand how much of each food we need, I believe it’s beneficial to know what each food group does for our body.
Fats are our bodies primary source of fuel when we are aerobic, meaning when we have oxygen to fuel our muscles. Aerobic activities include sitting, standing, walking, and jogging. When you’re on vacation, these are probably going to be a majority of your activities, which means a majority of your calories should come from fats. In addition to fueling your body, fats release a hormone called leptin, which tells your body you’re full. This feeling will come in extremely handy while you’re on vacation :).
Carbohydrates are our bodies primary source of fuel when we’re anaerobic, meaning without oxygen. Such activities include lifting, running at a quick pace, Crossfit, or MMA training. This is the time that starchy carbs, like rice, quinoa, and barley, come in handy. Besides fueling your muscles, carbohydrates create glucose, which is your brain’s primary source of fuel. To fuel the brain, we want to eat the fruits prescribed to keep insulin spiking to a minimum. Starchy carbs fuel the muscles for anaerobic activity while fruits and veggies fuel the brain. We use our brain all day long, so we need to provide it with adequate energy.
Protein is used to repair and rebuild muscle. Typically on vacation we are not looking to build or break new records in terms of muscle gain. With that said, we still need the hormonal response from protein. When consuming protein, our bodies release a hormone called glucagon. This hormone tells your body to release stored energy. Typically, we have tons of energy stored as glycogen from carbs or lipids from fats. Telling your body to do this will increase your energy while keeping your body fat low.
Hopefully now you have a basic understanding of what different foods do for your body. Choosing what to eat should be based off this knowledge. If I need to release energy, I would consume protein; if I need to fuel my brain, fruit and carbs; and for overall energy, consume fats.
We need all these foods continuously throughout the day, so when having a snack or meal we should incorporate some of each. Your portion size should be dictated by the amount of muscle you have, the size of an individual, gender, and the amount of activity. A 200-pound man with 10% body fat should have a meal of 1 fruit, 12-16 nuts, and about 4 oz of meat. If you’re higher in body fat, lower in weight, or female, lower the intake slightly. If you’re leaner, bigger, or if your activity is more strenuous, increase the amount slightly. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just consistent.
The last important thing when it comes to travel and nutrition is timing. When traveling, it is extremely easy to lose track of time. Whether you’re racing to make your flight or just stuck in security, food usually is not on the top of your to-do list. When this happens, we let time slip away and then, all of a sudden, we are starving!!! So remember – we have to stay ahead of the hunger!! To prevent this scenario, set a timer on your watch or on your phone and have it go off every three hours to let you know it’s time to eat.
Once you get to your, destination you still have to plan. Keep food and water with you everywhere you go. When your timer goes off, eat!! Another issue that will come up is eating out at a restaurant or eating at a friend’s house. When eating at a restaurant, stick with foods straight from the earth: salads with no dressing, cheese, or croutons, and meats that are lean. Opt for anything with loin in the word or lean chicken breast, shrimp, oysters, lobster, or fish. Stay away from any meats with the word rib in it, like ribeye, prime rib, or ribs in general. If you get a lean steak, you don’t have to add any fats because you get plenty in the meal. If you just get a salad with lean chicken, you can put a little olive oil and vinegar as dressing to get your fats.
If you’re eating at a friend’s house, stick with the same rules and keep portions to the size of your hand. Remember, it is not a contest of how much you can eat. If you have a tendency to eat everything in front of you, tell the waiter to pack half the meal in a to-go bag or tell your friend to give you a small serving.
I am now confident you have the knowledge to go out anywhere and stick to your program. Thanks again for using FitnessVT!!