Athletes will usually thrive around a routine of training and recovery including healthy nutrition and plenty of sleep. At home and within our familiar environment, we have everything we need to stay on track. But when it comes to racing it can involve travelling, leaving our regular routines and disruption of sleep and even time zones. So, how do we retain progress while on the road, and arrive in the best shape possible? Here are some of the best tools for staying on track with nutrition, even while you’re on the road.
The number one essential for travelling in good shape is staying hydrated. Travel can be very dehydrating, and air travel in particular can have a negative effect on hydration.
This can result in fatigue, headaches, cramping and a reduction in overall athletic performance.
Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after a trip will help this significantly.
Adding electrolytes to your water will drive optimum hydration and at the same time it will support healthy muscle contraction, mental clarity and enhance your energy. Electrolytes can ensure that maintaining hydration whilst benefiting your athletic performance.
Try adding a Sugar-Free Bindilyte sachet to your water while you’re travelling, and when you arrive make sure you always carry a bottle with you.
Don’t get caught out shopping the expo or in a long, hot registration queue without your bottle!!
TRAVEL NUTRITION — WHAT TO EAT?
When you’re home, you’re more than likely consuming nutrient dense whole foods that support your training and recovery. But as soon as you hit the road, you might struggle with the processed and junk options at the servo or airport food.
The good news is, that some simple planning can go a long way to have you arriving in good shape.
Maintaining your intake of protein when you’re on the road is helpful to maintain muscle mass, and to stop you from getting too hungry! A lot of processed foods are heavy on carbs and sugar and will simply have you craving more. Avoid the inflammatory and high carb/fat junk foods at airports and roadhouses.
Try choosing protein in each meal – for example eggs for breakfast, or a simple egg and salad sandwich on the road.
If you are choosing a smoothie, go for one with a protein powder included, or you can even pack your own protein powder to add to breakfast such as oats or milk-based drinks.
We all know we need our daily greens for the nutrient benefits and for the fibre content which is particularly important while you’re on the road. Pre-packed travel foods are notoriously low on nutrients, so at airports and service stations look for the salad and veg options (yes, they can be found!). Supermarkets also have a great range of pre-packed salads available too.
To really amp up your nutrient intake, pack a Supergreens powder which can simply be mixed with water each day. Supergreens are the perfect antioxidant-nutrient boost – they will boost your immune system, help reduce inflammation, and promote healthy digestion.
Pack them all. The whole lot. Nuts, fruit, low sugar protein bars and even a smoothie/protein shake mix if you are on a long-haul flight.
Don’t be tempted by all the processed rubbish on offer and be prepared with your own healthy options.
The brain naturally releases the hormone melatonin at night to promote sleep, and so this process is disrupted with travel. Melatonin supplements can help to resynchronise our body clock and reduce jet-lag symptoms; effective dosing protocols sit between 2 and 8mg.
However, you can do this naturally by eating pistachios – just 8 nuts will provide 1mg of melatonin.
PLAN A MEAL AHEAD
Think about your first meal when landing or arriving: it has been many hours… you’re exhausted… and you really don’t know where to start in a new city or smaller destination to get a wholesome meal. Either do your research before you get there or think about packing something simple like a sachet of porridge oats and a banana to get you started.
PACK YOUR OWN RACE DAY OR TRAINING NUTRITION:
By now we know that it is vital that you race with the nutrition that you have trained with. This means being organised and packing your nutrition to take with you… but hey you take your own bike and helmet, so your nutrition is just as important!!
If you’ve used a particular energy bar or gel don’t assume you will be able to buy them when you arrive. Pack your favourites so you don’t have to worry when you arrive. And, if you’re planning on eating bananas make sure you go straight to the supermarket when you arrive – you wouldn’t believe it, but our supermarkets generally run out in Busselton on Ironman week!
ARRIVE IN GREAT SHAPE
Hydration is definitely the place to start when you’re on the move – but with a little planning you can stay healthy when travelling and really nail your nutrition as an athlete by planning meals, snacks and adding vital supplements to your travel routine.