Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
Maintaining healthy habits can be challenging enough for busy professionals who work from or close to home.
But when travel is added to the mix – for work, social related activities such as hiking or going on holidays and staycations, maintaining a healthy diet can be even more difficult.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Whenever you are travelling, there are some easy-to-follow tips which can be implemented to make the best possible choices and to keep you on track with your goals
In this blog post I’m firstly going to educate you on the three major macronutrients and what each one does. This will allow you to make better decisions when it comes to deciding what to buy.
Secondly, I’m going to guide you through the importance of thinking about how your food has been cooked. This can have a HUGE impact on the net calories per meal.
Finally, I’m going to give you some specific tips on how to eat healthily while travelling – whether at a restaurant, grill, deli, supermarket or even if you want to bring your own pre-packaged snacks.
Manage your Macros
There are three major macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Whenever you’re deciding what to buy, looking at foods from the standpoint of what form of macronutrient they fall under – protein, carbohydrates and fats will make you be better able to decide what you need.
Deciding what to Buy
Before deciding what to buy, ask yourself what do I actually need?
If you’re travelling and will be sitting down for a long period of time during your journey, you want to avoid getting the mid-afternoon slump.
Often (not always), this can come down to feeling tired and lethargic from eating too many starchy carbohydrates. Remember, carbohydrates are your bodies preferred form of energy. But travelling on the road and sitting down isn’t a very taxing activity on your energy expenditure!
My advice would be to get the majority of carbohydrates from foods higher in fiber – such as fruits and vegetables and reducing your serving size of starchy carbohydrates – breads, pastas, potatoes etc – especially in the earlier part of the day. Instead, I would focus on eating foods higher in protein & fiber along with some healthy fats.
When travelling, I always like to eat meals higher in protein and fiber around lunch and the early afternoon and saving the carbs until the final meal of the evening. This helps keep your calories intact (without skipping meals) during the day which gives you much more room to play (without restricting yourself) come the evening.
This is not to say that carbohydrates are “bad” or make you fat! It’s just important to understand the role they play and if you’re not being very active that day, you’re unlikely to need them in abundance.
How has the food I’m about to eat been cooked?
Now that you understand the three major macronutrients, it’s time to be mindful and think
think about how the food you are about to eat has been cooked. This is a game changer! Especially if you’re eating in a carvery or grill or are looking to get a lunch/dinner.
For instance, a grilled or roasted chicken breast is probably going to have a lot less calories than a fried chicken breast. Why?
A chef’s top priority is to get the food prepared as fast as possible. It’s unlikely he/she is concerned about the fact you’re on a fitness journey. This means, the fried chicken you’re about to order have likely been cooked in sunflower oil – not extra virgin olive oil!
Why is this issue? Once heated, sunflower oil goes from being an already unhealthy oil into something much worse – a trans fat. Your body doesn’t recognise trans fats so once consumed, it gets automatically stored as visceral fat. If you’ve ever complained about having stubborn bodyfat, fried foods can be a big contributor.
Not only is it important to think about how the meat was cooked, but if you are selecting starchy carbohydrates, the same holds true. Examples would be fried vs boiled rice or deep-fried chips vs boiled potatoes. boiled rice. Always think about how the food was cooked before buying.
What’s the alternative? Look for foods that have been grilled, roasted or boiled if you plan on having a meal or a salad. There is less risk of them being drizzled with excess oil and can easily save you up to 200 calories without majorly impacting the food you choose to eat.
Now, that we understand the role of the three major macronutrients and we’re more mindful around thinking about how foods have been cooked, I’m going to show you how to make the best possible choices if you’re eating at a restaurant, out of a deli, stopping at a local supermarket. I will also make a list of some of my favourite pre-packed snacks to bring on the road.
Before I do that however, one universal principle is to ensure you stay hydrated. It is common for us to mistake being hungry with being thirsty.
Every road trip you go on, make it a habit to bring a bottle of water with you. Not only will this keep you hydrated, when we do get thirsty and need to stop off at, it’s common for us to opt for the more lucrative fizzy drink/
The best way to prevent this from happening is to not allow yourself to get thirsty in the first place. My first tip is to bring a bottle of water with you wherever you’re travelling to.
I managed to stay in shape while eating out regularly in America at a Mexican grill – Chipotle. Here’s the formula I’d recommend:
If you only have time to run in and out of your supermarket (or if you’re going to a match/on a trip) here are some options for you which would tie you over for a few hours:
In this scenario above, a lot of people would just opt for something like a 750ml Mooju and packet of chocolate peanuts but I’d strongly advise against this.
They both might have ‘high protein’ in fancy writing on the label but what you don’t see is the ridiculous amount of sugar and calories in both of these. In fact, a 750ml Mooju and 100g packet of chocolate peanuts combined have almost 1000 calories in total!
While they do taste nice and you might be tricked into thinking they are nutritious, the calorie count alone in both of these could add up to 50% of your total recommended amount.
If you’ve a long journey ahead of you and don’t plan on stopping at a shop, some of the following I find works well:
I hope this blog post takes away any fear/anxiety you might have if you’re ever travelling or eating on the go but want to keep things relatively healthy without being restrictive. To recap:
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