It can be a challenge for anyone to eat well while traveling. Add being an athlete looking for the right food to fuel for games, tournaments and practices on the go, and the result is an even bigger challenge. Young athletes to professional athletes face the challenge of changes in their normal schedule and a lot of time away from home. While traveling, the meals and snacks they are used to are not always available. Planning and having food on hand can go a long way. Imagine you are traveling with your team on a bus and starving but the rest stop is not for another two hours? With these tips you won’t have to worry about that rumbling stomach!
Tips to help make fueling your body easy on the go:
- Pack a cooler. This is a tip I learned in graduate school when faced with long days and not a lot of healthy options. A small cooler packed with ice will not take up too much room and will allow you to have healthy snacks available. Keep a cooler in the back of your car (or on the bus). A cooler allows for options including yogurt, yogurt tubes, turkey slices, turkey sandwiches, cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs and fresh fruit.
- Fruit that comes in it’s own carrying case. Think bananas, oranges, and apples. Packing these fruits are so easy to travel with since the peel serves as the carrying case.
- Nut butter packets. These make great on the go options (for me, these are a do not leave home without kind of product). Spread nut butter on a banana, on whole wheat bread or on graham crackers for a power combination of protein and carbohydrates. Pre made nut butter and banana sandwiches will also work well, and are a great option if a cooler is not possible for you.
- Trail mix. This can be store bought or you can make your own by combining your favorite nuts, seeds, roasted chickpeas, pretzels, cereals and dried fruits.
- Water and sports drinks. Don’t forget about hydration! To prevent dehydration, having fluids available is so important.
Another obstacle faced when traveling on the go is finding healthy options at not so healthy rest stops. Whether the meal is before, between or after games, it is important for it to be nutritious and provide optimal fuel and/or recovery. Avoid foods that are high in fat such as croissants, fried food and baked goods as these foods take longer to digest and can leave you feeling sluggish. When dining at rest stops, think how can I get the energy my body needs from carbohydrates and the protein my muscles need to recover? A good lunch option that is often available is a grilled chicken and avocado sandwich since this will provide you with carbohydrates for energy, and protein for muscle recovery without being too heavy. Yogurt, fruit and chocolate milk are also great options that are many times available for snacks.
Let me know what your biggest traveling challenge as an athlete is…