1. Have you installed the new JSF Mobile app? Check out all the details here.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. One account & one avatar for all of JSF. Unified login and profile. Forum alerts on the main site, and more. Check out the details here: Forum & main site unified account feature is live!
    Dismiss Notice

Tips for staying on track with nutrition/exercise while traveling

Discussion in 'Fat Loss/Cutting' started by winsecure, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. winsecure

    winsecure Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2004
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm towards the end of a heavy bout of travel (4 out of 5 weeks). I thought I'd compile my lessons-learned in the hope that others will find it useful. I've posted this as a new thread to avoid thread-jacking others.

    Just like starting a nutrition plan or starting a new workout routine, I have found that successfully executing diet and exercise while on the road is an iterative process. Each trip, I was able to get both my eating and exercise dialed in closer than my previous trip. Just like all other aspects of a healthy lifestyle, staying on track with nutrition and exercise while on the road requires a certain amount of advance planning.

    While traveling you will not have the same degree of control over your environment as you do when you're home. It will be virtually impossible to eat as clean as when you're at home. Also, you will likely not have access to the same exercise equipment. As a result, my mindset going into a week of travel has been to acknowledge that my nutrition and exercise will not be "perfect" while on the road, but that I'm going to make efforts to keep both as close to on-target as possible. Planning and making reasonable choices are the key to staying on track (or at least not sabotaging your progress) while traveling.

    Before you leave:
    • A good shaker bottle is critical. Having 2 (1 for protein shakes, 1 for water) would be ideal. However, I typically stick with one to minimize bulk in my luggage. If you don't have a good shaker bottle, definitely make a point of picking one up before you leave. This will be critical for both your water intake as well as protein shakes for hitting target protein levels.
    • Also be sure you have sufficient protein to pack with you. Protein powder is the staple, but some bars may be handy to have as well.
    • Plan your exercise: I find it very difficult to do resistance training on days that I'm flying. To adjust, I change my planned lifting days during the week if I'd otherwise be scheduled to lift on a flying day. Either lifting a day early, or pushing a lifting day back. This may result in a non-ideal schedule - for example if you're trying to avoid lifting 2 back-to-back days. What makes sense for your situation will depend on your specific lifting regime, as well as your tolerance for lifting on days in transit.
    • Also, determine what you're going to use for exercise facilities. Cardio should not be a problem. Most hotels have at least an elliptical machine, treadmill, etc. Jogging/walking outside will also be an option unless you're in a big city. Worst case, you can find the Exit stairwell, and use the stairs for cardio.
    • Facilities for resistance training can be more of a challenge. Some hotels will have no weight equipment. Some places will have a great set of dumbbells. Even if they do, I've found they usually only go up to 40/50 lbs. Also many times there will be a less-than-accomodating person hogging them and not playing well with others. As a result, I've begun to rely on bodyweight resistance training while traveling. I've found Mark Lauren's "You Are Your Own Gym" to be a great resource for this. (Credit goes to paulo_drummer for suggesting that book). It's a very comprehensive listing of different exercises for different muscle groups. Additionally he lays out 10-week exercise plans for 5 different levels of fitness. The eBook version is great for the road if you've got a nook/kindle/iPad. There's also some great free sites on the internet if you're willing to take the time to research.
    • Many gyms have reciprocity agreements with other gyms that you can use while traveling. If you do belong to a gym, let them know that you're going to be traveling and ask if they have agreements in place with other gyms.
    • There may also be gyms in your destination area that will let you pay $5/$10 for the day. Use google maps to see what will be close to where you're staying and make phone calls ahead of time.

    Lodging/Restaurants
    • For nutrition, probably the most ideal thing would be to stay at an Extended-Stay place with a kitchenette. Picking up some groceries when you arrive will make it possible to prepare at least some of your own meals and minimize your trips to restaurants. This may or may not be feasible for your particular travel situation. This route gives you the greatest potential for eating like you're at home.
    • If you are going to be relying on restaurants, scope out what restaurants are near where you'll be. Subway is the usual staple for me. I typically hit them twice a day. This puts me well above where I'd like to be for sodium intake, but that's one area where I know my nutrition will deviate from "perfect".
    • Many hotels serve breakfast. A lot of it is junk like pastries, etc. Usually they'll also have scrambled eggs along with some cereal choices and fruit. It's worth checking with the hotel ahead of time to find out if they serve breakfast and what they serve. This way you'll know if you can eat breakfast there, or if you'll need to do another alternative for breakfast.
    Packing for your trip:
    • Definitely take protein powder. What works really well for me is to pre-measure out servings of powder and put it in zip-lock bags. I measure 2 scoops in small zip-lock bags. I then put all the small ziplock bags in a larger freezer bag in case one of the bags comes open (the last thing you want to have is white protein powder spilling out as you're going through the TSA checkpoint). When sealing the bags, minimize the amount of air in them. I find having the pre-measured protein is very convenient. Most protein powders will pour easily out of the bag into the shaker without making a mess -- and not having to worry about measuring makes this super convenient.
    • Pack your shaker bottle in your carry-on bag. You can fill it up after passing through TSA so that you'll have water available in the airport and on the plane. Careful about pushing too much water though unless you're ok with using the airplane bathroom multiple times during the flight.
    • Workout clothes/shoes should be obvious things to pack :)
    Optional to take:
    -As mentioned above, protein bars can be helpful for during the day when the powder isn't feasible. I use them as a last resort.
    -Other things that can pack easily are granola and oats. Nuts would travel well too, though I'm usually higher on my fats than my ideal target, so I don't pack any fats.
    -Crystal light packets or Mio if you use those to help you push water.

    Food at the airport - In general you want to stay away from all the restaurants in the airport. It's tough to find good choices in there. Even if something looks healthy, I don't trust that they're not going to use a ton of butter, or throw a ton of sodium over it. If you do need to eat while at the airport, there's usually some decent salads and fruit options in the kiosk stands, etc.

    Arriving - I usually try to get a grocery store the first night I arrive. Unless I have a refrigerator available, I will usually only pick up some fruit (e.g. bananas or apples).


    Scope out and make sure that the facilities you're planning on using for exercise is adequate. If you're planning on using the hotel's fitness center for lifting, make sure the equipment will accommodate your routine. If not, you'll have time to figure out adjustments in your routine (i.e. figure out some bodyweight exercise substitutions).

    My personal eating routine is to start out the morning with a protein shake and piece for fruit, then do subway for an early lunch, and then again in the late afternoon. For dinner I choose a nice'ish sitdown restaurant. Mastover posted a good article on restaurant eating here. I avoid the Applebees and Chili's type chain restaurants. I don't trust their kitchens to prepare food the way that I request.

    For dinner, I generally go with something like a small filet and steamed veggies or a salad. When ordering the entree I specify "Please have it prepared dry: no salt, rub, marinade, oil, butter, or other seasonings. I'd like it totally plain, please." Veggies should be steamed and for salad dressing ask for some plain olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side (oil & vinaigrette dressings tend to be high in sodium). Salmon can be a good choice, along with other fishes, but you do need to be careful in how those are prepared. I stay away from chicken. Many times the chicken will have been pre-cooked (along with pre-buttered/seasoned/salted) and then the restaurant heats it up in the oven just long enough to warm it up when you order it. As a result, you may not be able to get unseasoned/buttered chicken even if you request it.

    In general, you'll probably find that your sodium intake will be above what you'd like. Pushing water will be especially important because of this. During my trips, I usually have meetings and can't be running to the bathroom every 30 minutes. As a result, I try to drink a modest amount of water during the day, and then push it hard after work.

    Each person will have a different routine and system that works for them. Depending on the destination and nearby amenities, some things that will work for one trip may not be feasible on the next. My mentality has been acknowledging that I won't hit perfection, but I'll make reasonable choices that will keep me as close to on-track as possible.

    Other suggestions or critiques more than welcome!
     
  2. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
    Staff Member Owner

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Messages:
    20,867
    Likes Received:
    75
    Great post! I'm going to add this to the beginner's stickies. :nod:
     
  3. raptor

    raptor Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2004
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good writeup.
     
  4. winsecure

    winsecure Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2004
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks John - I'm flattered! I'm glad to have contributed back to the community.

    If others have input and things that worked well for them (or didn't work well), I'm happy to incorporate into my original post.
     

Share This Page