Whether you’re playing on a league or taking part in a competition, traveling can take its toll and even how well you do. Lots of things, from jet lag to eating healthy play a role in this. It’s not always easy to achieve good nutrition for the traveling athlete. One way to avoid some of the problem is to make sure you focus on a balanced diet with adequate protein, vitamins, minerals, carbs and fat. The best way to ensure success is to plan ahead.
Getting adequate hydration is extremely important.
Dehydration is a real problem no matter what time of year it is. That’s why I always recommend athletes carry a bottle of water with them. Take an empty bottle and fill it at the fountain after you’ve passed security. Cars and planes are dry in the winter from the heater warming the air and in the summer, the air conditioner removes the water, making dehydration a potential. Don’t depend on getting the cup of water every hour that your body requires on a plane. The paper cups used hold about half that. While good hydration is important, you also need to make sure it’s from a safe source if you’re traveling to foreign countries where it might be questionable.
Are you flying? Take food.
If your flight is an hour or less, there’s far less need to make sure you have snacks, but carrying a small bag of trail mix wouldn’t hurt, especially if you have to sit in the airport for a while before your flight. Taking your own food, particularly on longer flights, will ensure that you have healthy snacks or a lunch that has extra nutrients without added chemicals. It can be fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts or trail mix. Protein bars or powdered/canned liquid meal supplements can also boost your nutrition. You won’t be ravenous when you arrive and tempted to eat junk that might affect your performance.
If you’re traveling by bus or car, plan to eat along the way.
A cooler can be a great asset when you’re on the road. It doesn’t have to be big, just large enough to hold some snacks or meals so you don’t do your snack or dinner shopping at a gas stations. You can include quite a wide variety of foods when you have a cooler. Yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, hummus and veggies are a few of the things you can bring with you. Ham and cheese sandwiches, individual size canned tuna and coconut water are also good additions to your meal while on wheels.
- Do research ahead of time to find the best places to eat that have whole foods. You might even find a farmer’s market in the area to purchase fruit and vegetables for the room, especially if you have a refrigerator in it.
- You don’t have to be as worried about balancing your diet to ensure you get all the nutrients if your trip is just a few days. You can add to your diet for a short time with nutrient rich liquid or powdered supplement.
- Choose snacks to take carefully so you get a good mix of protein rich foods, nutrient packed veggies and fruit, grain and calcium rich products. A few cubes of cheese, raw veggies and whole grain crackers are examples of the mix.
- Talk with others going along if you’re traveling with several people or a team. Coordinate the foods each of you bring to make it easier, yet still have variety.