Diet tends to suffer when traveling, especially for athletes that are touring to different events either home or abroad. But, there are ways you can stay the course and maintain your priorities: nutrition, fitness level and overall health while on the go! Here is an article chock-full of goodness on nutrition tips for athletes on the go.
Food planning for traveling athletes: Don't loose performance on poor nutrition
Athletes know specific foods and/or caloric intake are necessary for optimal results. Most active individuals have a daily routine or diet that can be tough to sustain when on the road or traveling overseas. The key to successful eating while on the move is planning and preparation.
Planning ahead, and, if possible, finding out what food to expect at your destination will provide a great starting point. This can help ensure you have the food or supplements you need.
Planning ahead can prevent the following common issues brought by traveling:
Inadequate carbohydrate or protein intake
Unwanted loss or gain in weight
Nutritional challenges faced by athletes while traveling include:
Meeting daily vitamin and mineral requirements
Balancing energy intake
Long periods of inactivity
Pre-game your supplements & don’t stress it
PRE-GAME YOUR TRAVEL WITH HEALTHY NUTRITION
If you know in advance that you’ll be traveling, pre-game it. By this I mean eat super healthy and follow your regular routine prior to leaving town. That way when you travel and you deviate for a few days – or even a week, you won’t have any long term negative effect. Its also important NOT to stress about it.
Creating stress around food can be even worse than eating bad food. Solid “home habits” will ensure your body is in the best possible condition for traveling. If healthy home habits are established, returning home, and getting back on to your regular routine will trigger a “body memory” response, allowing you to feel back-to-nominal much easier (and sooner).
For most outdoor athletes, locations of competitions are not always conducive to eating healthy while traveling.
Avoid is the impulse to turn to fast food, especially in airports. Understandable, but avoidable! Packing food and getting dialed in to the area you will be staying is key.
Next: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! - Not only do air travelers experience physiological changes related to an increase in altitude and cabin pressure, they are also exposed to low moisture levels. Aircraft cabin humidity levels are unnaturally low, and dehydration also exaggerates jet lag.
Get decent sleep. - Stressing out is harder on your body than eating a “bad” meal. It also can disrupt sleep patterns, which are critical for optimal energy and performance. If you are having a hard time sleeping try establishing a consistent breath practice. Gaining control of your breathing will help you gain control of your nervous system and learn how to “down regulate”. Adding a magnesium supplement in the evening can also have a calming effect.
HOW TO AVOID COMMON TRAVEL SIDE EFFECTS?
Travel, specifically, long hours, can upset your digestive system. To minimize constipation, drink plenty of fluids and eat fiber-rich foods.
Coconut water is a great option pre and post workout, as well as pre and post air flight because it contains natural electrolytes and potassium.
Certain foods will not only hydrate you, but help sustain the fluids in your body so you stay satisfied for longer. Think foods high in potassium or water-rich foods for easier hydration. For example:
Combine these with water-rich breakfasts like oatmeal which is also fairly simple and easy to pack and bring along.
WHAT TO AVOID WHILE TRAVELING
Sugary or “empty calorie” snacks (think: candy, donuts, processed foods, etc)
More than your usual amount of coffee
The beverages listed above have diuretic properties. Consuming any of these on plane flights, can promote or exacerbate fluid loss, contributing to the dehydration caused by flying. If you must, try adding supplements to them (like protein powders or powdered greens)
READY-TO-GO: NUTRITIONAL TRAVEL KIT
I like to have my clients pack a “travel tool kit”. This will contain individual serving sized portions of healthy foods, and supplements that can provide a quick “kick” or keep your body on track. For example:
Packets of powdered bone broth
Freeze dried powdered greens
Raw walnuts or almonds
Steel cut oats
These are all low- sugar and great grab on-the-run or just-add-water items.
RESCUE ITEMS: I also include the following preventative or “rescue” items.
Ginger chews – both help with queasy stomach
Papaya enzymes to aid with digestion.
DAILY ON-THE-GO BAGS
Pre-pack supplements in an individual daily packaging. No one likes to overuse plastic, but when you’re traveling mini-zip lock bags packaged for each day with the supplements can avoid having to pack bulky bottles. They are also quick and easy to grab if you’re running out the door and you can take them pretty much anywhere anytime.
Yeti makes a great travel pack (and water proof) cooler, so you can bring along items that need to stay cool and dry. These travel coolers can be worth the money as they also double as a great day trip bag once you reach your destination.
FINALLY: DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE.
Lastly, maintaining, or dialing into a deeper breath practice is super beneficial, and is one of the “easiest” and most convenient tools you will always have access to. Mediation with some form of movement on long days of travel is key as well. I will be delving into breath work and recovery in my next article. Stay tuned!
Written by: Amy Field
Amy Field is a Sports Nutritionist in the Boston MA area. Amy is based in the Boston area of Massachusetts, and is available for private sessions or workshops throughout New England. She also “meets” with many clients over the phone to accommodate their busy schedules. Give her a shout with any questions or comments on Instagram @amyfield1 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org