Many striving to be their fittest and healthiest are often faced with the traveling obstacles in their quest to do so. When thinking of eating on the go, most of us assume we need to rely on fast food as the bulk of our caloric intake given the circumstances. But, just because you may be a road warrior for your work or business doesn’t mean you have to consume foods that leave you feeling bloated, drained and like a failing slug.
Although most will argue that it’s “too hard” or near impossible to eat super healthy when traveling, many fit athletes, competitive bodybuilders and physique models who travel often, find a way to do so and will disagree. As the old saying goes; “if there is a will, there is a way”.
In this article, we are going to provide some great ideas for those that often feel a bit lost and get derailed due to frequent traveling on a regular basis. The tips and suggestions here are very relevant to the traveling person with consideration of the limitations that come with.
For those with a short attention span and want to jump right to a highlighted piece of this article, see below:
- Example template for eating healthy & staying fit
- Snacks on the go
- Fast food; the "better options"
- Drinking alcohol
Before we start diving into healthy meal planning, we need to first ensure we understand the basics of what foods are and, what they do.
Quick & Basic Understanding of Macronutrients
We basically have 3 macronutrients that come from foods:
- 1. Carbs
- 2. Protein
- 3. Fat
• Carbs supply energy for us. They fuel our muscles and brain. They are the body’s first and preferred source of energy (but, the body can use protein and fat for energy if it needs to as well).
• Proteins are essential for muscle, immune system and are the catalyst for all living things and growing. Protein is made up of amino acids. You’ve heard of “essential” amino acids I assume?
• Fats are essential for hormones, insulating the body, inflammatory (and anti-inflammatory) responses and much more including being a source of stored energy in times of famine (no food around, like in caveman days). You’ve heard of “essential” fatty acids like, omega-3’s I assume?
1. When you see potatoes, rice, cake, candy, cereal, pasta and bread, think “CARBS”.
2. When you see chicken, fish, beef, eggs or turkey I want you to think “PROTEIN”.
3. When you see almonds, pecans, oils, avacados, real butter or peanut butter, think “FAT”.
Note: Notice there is NO SUCH THING as an “essential” carbohydrate. In other words, we could survive without them (to a degree) and we don’t need them in such an abundance to which they are available to (and consumed by) us in today’s modernized world of convenience foods.
Let’s now jump into starting with some basics of what foods we should be buying, prepping where possible and consuming to achieve your goals of looking & feeling your best…
In most cases, we will want to strive to consume starchy carbs, fruits and any foods higher in sugar (aka; high glycemic carbs) – before or preferably after, our workouts.
By consuming carbs in this workout window, you will have them going to the preferred places we want them to go (muscle).
Think of your muscles as a sponge; when you are working out, you are burning off glycogen (stored carbs) in your muscle for energy to move and contract muscles, etc. Once you wring those muscles out (like a you would a sponge), they will be ready to soak up any carbs you consume after the workout.
If, however, you are over-consuming way too many carbs during a time or day when you are not working out and your muscles and your liver glycogen (fancy word for stored carbs as energy in muscle and, liver) stores are full – you are more apt to store that extra energy (in form of body fat) for later use.
We will want to do our best to minimize excessive amounts of starchy “usable” carbs outside of our workout times.
Trying to maintain an emphasis on greens and colorful foods (plant-based foods) alongside quality protein sources and plant-based fats should be the main goal, speaking in broad strokes for most of us.
In short, if it grows out of the ground, off a tree, lives off the land or swims/lives in the water; it is probably good for us. However, if it comes in a bag, box or bottle; there is a good chance it may not be the best choice for us.
• Green Tea, yerba matte, earl grey and most teas.
• Coffee (yes, coffee in moderation can be good); use stevia if you need a sweetener here or, with any tea.
• Plain, clean WATER.
• Sparkling/ Carbonated Water- such as La Croix or similar.
• (Zero calorie drinks flavored with stevia/splenda/sucralose but make sure it does not contain aspartame- stevia is BEST).
• “Stur” Naturally Skinny liquid water enhancers.
• Straight up H2O Water!!! Drink plenty every day to support your kidneys (with higher protein intake) and body’s elimination process and proper hydration .
• Kambucha drinks. These are loaded with probiotics and enzymes with immune system boosting benefits. Go for the lower sugar ones.
• Unsweetened almond or coconut milk.
• *** “Fat burner” or a mild stimulant “pre-workout” powder that you can sip on in your water bottle during your day to revv up your metabolism and increase energy – if suitable and appropriate for you (*consult with your physician 1st if any cardiovascular or relevant concerns apply).
Taking just a little bit of time to prepare some healthy snacks before you head out on the road can save you a lot of time, a ton of money and contribute to staying on track in your efforts to stay fit and healthy. Here are a few go-to snacks that will work effortlessly with your nutrition goals, satiate your hunger, and taste good too.
1. Whey Protein Isolate Powder: One of the best snack options is a protein shake. Add a little bit of whole grain oats, peanut butter (powder if possible) and blend it up. Make sure to look for the ISOLATE powder to avoid unnecessary carbs, fats and cholesterol. Add some unsweetened almond milk to make it taste even better.
2. Quest Bars: These are high fiber protein bars that come in a variety of flavors. Don’t go overboard with eating more than 1 or 2 a day. They can lead to you having a bit of gas if so.
3. Kirkland brand bars: Found at Costco, these are essentially the same as Quest bars but way cheaper. Flavor options are limited to only 2 though.
4. Think Thin Bars: These protein bars are made with low-glycemic carbs and are relatively cheap and tasty.
5. Pure Protein Bars: Another protein bar snack that is incredibly cheap and available at almost all large grocery store chains (Wal-Mart, Target etc.). Again, limit to just 1 per day due to the sugar alcohols they use to sweeten them. Otherwise, you might feel the need to hit the restroom and/or have uncomfortable gas.
6. Homemade “no bake” protein cookie balls: There are a lot of low carb/high protein/moderate fat recipes for these online. They are quick & easy to make. Here is one of many ideas for this cookie and, much more: https://fitmencook.com/protein-cookies/
7. Hard boiled eggs: These can also be found at Costco, they are cheap and a great source of protein! You can eat the egg whites and maybe just a yolk or two, assuming you eat a few as a small snack or meal.
8. Homemade mixed bag of nuts: Pecans and almond mix is a personal favorite. This really comes in handy when traveling in a car or on a plane. Healthy fats, a little protein and some fiber. Low carb. Filling due to high fat and energy content.
Now obviously, this should NOT be your go-to food source, but I understand the lack of time or required business meetings and similar like anyone else. There actually are options at the major fast food chains that aren’t complete garbage given the circumstances.
Here are 8 options to consider below (with H2O):
1. McDonalds: Option #1-The Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich. You’ll get a grilled chicken breast with some lettuce and tomato on a bun. It comes with a vinaigrette but opt out of that and just add some mustard for flavor. This weighs in around 360 calories with 37g of protein, 44g of HIGH GLYCEMIC carbs and 4.5g of fat. This should only be allowed post workout time.
2. McDonalds: Option #2- Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad. Kick the tortilla strips off to the curb. This isn’t half bad with a listed 27 grams of medium glycemic carbs, 100 grams of fat and 37 grams of protein. This is good anytime.
3. Chick-fil-A: The salad entrée is claimed to be prepared fresh each day and is topped with spicy grilled chicken, zesty roasted corn, black beans and pepitas (fancy for pumpkin seeds). The salad contains just 260 calories before extra toppings or dressing, which you will be best to keep them on off or very minimal.
4. Wendy’s: Grilled Chicken wrap. Keep the honey mustard off to the side and be conservative if you must have it. Post workout, okay. Any other time, restrain. At less than 270 calories with each one and only 3 grams of sugar and 20 grams of protein, this isn’t half bad for a fast food choice.
5. Chipotle: Order a bowl - NO rice, add black beans, add fajitas, chicken, mild & medium salsa and lettuce. All on the table, this is only about 350 calories, 28g of LOW GLYCEMIC carbs, 40g of protein and 8-10g of fat. You can add some rice but understand that adds over 200 more calories and about 35g of MODERATE GLYCEMIC carbs. Prefer to keep within 60 minute post workout window.
6. Texas Road House: Grilled salmon is a nice choice (690 cal.) Served with your choice of two sides – opt for vegetables, sautéed mushrooms or green beans and ask if steaming them is an option (most likely no). This is also available in a 5 oz. portion (510 cal.) Hold the Texas Roadhouse Seasoning and/or peppercorn sauce. No croutons on any salads. Ask for dressing on the side & opt for vinegar if you can handle it (I personally hate taste of vinegar).
7. Top Pick (pending location) - Balance Pan Asian Grille: Great place to grab some clean, fast food. In my opinion, one of your best options if you happen to be in Ohio; they are expanding quickly outside of this region too. Opt to drink water over their enticing teas and flavored drinks, keep sauces on the side or to a minimum, and you’re golden.
8. Best Pick - Core Life Eatery: With regards to the clean and healthy factor, this also sits at the top of healthy options when picking a place to eat out at. It can be fast too. Keep water as your beverage. Opt for greens over lettuce. Hard to not make good choices here.
* With fast food joints, almost every chain has some variation of a grilled chicken sandwich or salad. Just get it without the sauce and you will at least be making the best given your situation... Also, of these chains listed, most allow you to create meals on their website, so you can see the calories and macros for every item.
9. IDEAL PICK: Have your fresh and healthy meals prepped exactly how you need them as they pertain to YOUR goals and delivered right to your door or, where you will staying while traveling.
*** For ideal pick #9; visit to hire out professionals to shop, plan out and prep all your fresh meals for your week ahead. This will better enable you to control your caloric content while strategically balancing your macronutrients appropriately. And, have all this fresh gourmet food delivered right to you. That simple.
When eating out at higher end, sit down restaurants:
1. Opt for greens with grilled or baked protein/meat source with vegetables.
2. Minimize starches; this would include potatoes, rice, pasta and breads/buns…Unless it is before or (preferably) after a workout.
3. Ask for any sauces to be left off or on the side – this is important! These sauces can ruin an otherwise healthy meal.
4. Between this and simply drinking ice water, you should significantly cut back on calories and stay within your targeted goals.
A nice book & guide to eating fast food that you may find helpful is called: "Eat This, Not That!" You can find this on Amazon and other related places.
There probably is no need to preach about the downsides of what alcohol can and usually does to our body. Let’s face it; most of us adults are occasionally going to attend a social gathering and want to indulge in a cocktail or three.
Nothing too harmful if this is done only on occasion and, in moderation. If you’re serious about not straying too far away from your goals of looking and feeling your sharpest, you will want to consider these alcohol drink options below:
4. LaCroix Water (or similar seltzer water) + Vodka of your choice, mixed with a splash of “Stur” water enhancer/flavor.
5. *** When out on the town: Request your bartender for vodka and SELTZER or SODA WATER. Be mindful to NOT say “tonic water” as this has a ton of sugar and quinine or aspartame in it.
• Emphasize your request to your server to ensure he or she gets it right with no confusion; you don’t want to be “that person” who must complain and have something sent back, etc.
• Don’t let a bad server or bartender ruin your good intentions of keeping things clean.
The goal with these suggestions is to cut out unnecessary sugar and calories. With many of the specialty, heavily dark and flavored brews alongside mixed drinks loaded with sugar – the calories can add up REAL quick and heavy! Add in some impaired judgement and you are apt to consume more than you should.
Devise a plan with a set number of drinks you will allow yourself and stick to the recipe with suggestions above and you should be fine. And, you will most likely save yourself a couple thousand calories (literally).
Healthy eating is a choice. Even on the go, you can stop for fast food, at a grocery store, a health food store, gas station (worst) and more. Given your circumstances, you most likely have choices. Decide you will make and stick with the best ones.
1. Eat plenty of protein rich snacks and meals. Be sure that sugar intake and processed foods are minimized. Emphasize plant-based fats and when possible, fresh vegetables.
2. Pack healthy snacks before any trips.
3. Avoid food choices you know will make you feel like a lazy slug after. You know what these are with some common sense: greasy foods, pastries or any highly processed foods.
4. Incorporate and utilize the healthy tips above to make good choices if eating out on the run. Like seriously, go ahead and print this list off and put in your travel bag. Then, re-read it again later. 😊
5. Drink LOTS of pure/quality water.
With trying to age gracefully in the very modernized 21st century world, we face challenges to stay fit and healthy unlike any other time in history. The team here at YOUTH-Rx always strives to do their best to provide the means & tools necessary to maintain a youthful body and the education behind it all so clients can understand how to tie in all aspects of a winning game plan to look and feel one's best!
If you feel you may not be living in a body that you know you are deserving of, suspect imbalances in one way or another or just want to explore any programs offered; Simply fill out the medical history form and one of team members can discuss with you further on what might be the missing link to achieving your perceived greatness in health.
Roger & the YOUTH-Rx team
DISCLAIMER: Roger Bowman is not a doctor or registered dietitian. Any contents of this document coming directly from Roger Bowman and not being communicated from a licensed medical doctor should not be taken as medical advice. Any direct input from Roger Bowman is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problem - nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician.