Traveling always causes health conscious people like us a great deal of anxiety regarding our training and eating…I’m sure you’ve been there too. We all know it’s hard to eat right on the road and stay on track with your workouts. Today I’m going to share some ideas for success while traveling as well as show you how I handled a recent 4 day trip.
The following is a blog post that originally appeared on April 26, 2012 – days before a 4-day road trip. This past weekend, I attended a similar event, this time traveling for 5 days. In both cases my nutritional plan was the same: “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to not suck!”
I’m heading to New Jersey this weekend for a seminar and I’m PUMPED! Can’t wait to hang out with some of the strength industry’s finest and become a better person, coach, and businessman.
Let’s first look at a few options, then decide which plan works for your goals and your travel plans.
The type of trip, the activities involved and the location can all play factors in deciding how you handle each individual trip. For example, if you’re going on vacation to an all-inclusive resort, you’re likely going to be pretty relaxed. Or, if you’re a bodybuilder traveling to your competition, you don’t have many options. You simple have to suck it up, pack what you need, and carry a cooler everywhere you go.
The traveling bodybuilder/physique athlete is what I’m used to, so this is my personal default setting. When I go on short (24-48 hour) road trips, I usually prepare ALL my meals in advance and take them with me in a cooler. Pain in the ass? YES. Does it work? Damn right it does!
Basically, eating right and training when life gets busy is a mindset. You have to want it! If you want to stay on track, you’ll find a way to make it happen! If you don’t care, a) you’re probably not reading this stuff anyway and b) eat whatever you want, whenever you want.
But now, the question is…what happens if that trip is OVER 48 hours and packing ALL your meals becomes unrealistic?
The way I see it, you can temporarily structure your meals in 1 of 3 ways.
- IF/pulse feasting: Intermittent Fasting involves not eating for specific periods of time, and then “feasting” during other specific times. In this case, I’m referring to something like a 16/8 pattern where you fast for 8 hours while sleeping, then continue fasting for the first 8 hours of your day. Then during the last 8 hours you consume your normal, healthy, non-man-made foods! The type of foods doesn’t change, just WHEN you eat them. this can be very liberating, as you don’t have to worry about eating while you’re busy with your activities. This is also a great shock to your body for those looking to lean out a bit, as IF does wonder for body composition and fat loss. (I’m leaving a lot of details out, because this post is not about IF…if you want more info on this let me know!)
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- Pack and eat 6-8 meals/day: To do this, you would have to pack a bunch of non-perishable items like oats, protein powder, canned meats, etc. Then you would have to make a trip to the store once you arrive at your destination to stock up on perishable items like eggs, meat, produce, etc. You would need at the minimum, a mini-fridge and a microwave at your disposal. A full kitchen would be even better. This type of plan works best for longer trips (5-10 days or more). You’ll still need a cooler or something to carry meals around.
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- 3 solid & 3 shakes: Have a solid food meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner and mix in 3 shakes throughout the day to keep yourself going. All you need is a tub of protein, a fat source (nuts, peanut butter, etc) and a carb source (oats, rice cakes, etc). This limits your packing and meal prep time, and also limits “scavenging” for decent meals to only 1/2 of your intake compared to other methods. There is one HUGE caveat to this method…you must have the discipline to order the right thing when eating out! For those who WANT to stay on track, this is no problem. For others, this can be trap…be careful- This is not an excuse to kill a buffet 3 times a day!
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Which route will I take this weekend? Since the trip is 3-4 days, I’m not going to fool with the store and buying groceries while i’m there. I’m trying to gain weight, and have the metabolism of a hummingbird, so IF isn’t going to support my goals right now. That’s out. Eating 6-8 meals consisting of the foods I would normally consume simply isn’t going to happen either. Process of elimination leaves me me with the 3 & 3 option.
I have a 2lb tub of Met-Rx Protein Plus (whey/egg/casein blend), a bag of almonds, and some oats and rice cakes. I also have 2 cans of Wild Planet Tuna, just in case. I’ll keep the stash in my bag and bust out a shake several times a day to keep myself going. All I have to do is add water! I also know that being around fitness-minded people, we’ll have the opportunity to grab a decent lunch and dinner each day. That just leaves breakfast and I’m taking 18 hard boiled eggs with me. I can add some oats and BOOM! I’ll be sure to get as many veggies as possible during lunch and dinner to account for missing them at my other 4 meals daily. And most importantly, remember this is only temporary. It doesn’t have to be perfect…it just has to not suck!