Nutrition for the traveling athlete is important, but can be hard to do. The areas to focus on include ensuring the athlete reaches the necessary protein and carbohydrate needs, gets daily mineral and vitamin requirements, gets adequate hydration, a balanced diet and when traveling to other countries, make sure the food source is safe. Planning ahead is of utmost importance and may even include carrying your own source of food.
Pack extra food in your carryon if you fly.
Whether traveling by car, bus or plane, having easier access to food that’s healthy will keep your energy level up without depending on the driver to stop at the next restaurant on the way or relying on the airplane meals that are often inadequate to meet the dietary needs of an athlete. Taking extra food items along will help ensure that you’ll end your travels with an adequate store of both energy and nutrition. Fresh fruit snack packs, dried fruit and nut trail mix, PB&J sandwiches, protein or energy bars, powdered meal supplements or canned liquid supplements can help meet caloric and nutritional needs.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Whether you’re traveling on the road or by plane during the summer or winter, make sure you carry your own large bottle of water. The cabins in planes are extremely dry, making it even more important when flying. In the summer, when driving, the air conditioner removes the water from the air, but without it, sweating has the same effect. During winter months when driving, heating the vehicle creates dry air. Staying hydrated requires you to have at least a cup of water every hour. The glasses on airplanes are so small, they don’t fill that requirement. You can carry on juice as well to boost your nutritional requirements.
Travel with a cooler on the road or learn how to eat healthy from gas station food.
You can solve many of the nutritional problems of travel if you’re driving by simply packing adequate food to meet your nutritional needs. Plan your meals ahead of time and make sure it includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Canned tuna with the pop top cans don’t need to be in the cooler, but can be a good source of protein. Other protein choices can include yogurt, hard boiled eggs, ham and cheese. If you’re relegated to eating at gas stations across the nation, make smart choices. Most have at least one or two sources of fresh fruit, canned tuna and yogurt.
- Mix and match snacks so you get a balance of protein rich foods, fruits and veggies, grain products and calcium rich foods. For example, a can of V-8, a bran muffin and either yogurt or cheese fills all four groups.
- Check out the food at your destination before you go. Do a little research to find the foods at the hotel or local restaurant and even their hours. Find out if there’s a refrigerator in the hotel room and stop at a local grocery before checking into the hotel if there is.
- Don’t worry if you don’t get all the nutrients you need if your trip is short. Take a nutritional supplement along to fill in the gaps.
- If you’re traveling with a group or team, get together ahead of time to plan out nutritional needs. Not only will you have more selection when you take your food along, you’ll all save money and eat better.