January 22nd, 2021

Training Matters: Staying healthy on the road means eating smarter

By Medicine Hat News on November 4, 2016.

For many athletes travel is a part of life. Whether it is going to a training camp, competition or tournament, traveling away from home can make it challenging to maintain a high performance diet. Regardless of the mode of travel, an athlete’s primary goal is to arrive fueled, hydrated and ready to compete at their best. To ensure they stay on track athletes can anticipate challenges and have a nutrition plan in place ahead of time.

Challenge: You are travelling by bus with the team and it stops to take breaks at gas stations where athletes get out to buy snacks.

Nutrition plan: Bring your own food and healthy snacks instead of relying on high fat high sugar foods from the convenience store. Pack a small cooler with foods that contain carbohydrates and protein such as yogurt, cheese and crackers, fruit, and sandwiches or wraps with lean meat, eggs, fish or peanut butter. Additional snack foods could include dried fruit, trail mix, applesauce, pretzels, or raw vegetables and hummus.

Challenge: You try not to drink much fluid when you travel because you don’t want to have to stop to go to the bathroom.

Nutrition plan: Athletes who travel can be at a disadvantage if they arrive at their event dehydrated. Airline travel can be especially dehydrating. You want to ensure that you are drinking fluids regularly. If travelling by vehicle or bus plan to leave a little earlier to allow yourself time to take an additional bathroom stop or two. Pack a water bottle to sip on throughout travel. Other fluids include milk or chocolate milk, unsweetened juice and yogurt drinks.

Challenge: You have competitions or games throughout the day and you don’t have time to leave to get a meal.

Nutrition plan: Schedule snacks around events to maintain your energy levels and promote recovery. Find out if the venue will have any healthy food choices available or pack your own. Items like fruit, crackers, bagels, peanut butter, cheese, granola bars, and chocolate milk are portable and easy to eat in between games.

Challenge: There are only fast food restaurants close to the venue.

Nutrition plan: Choose foods that do not contain an excessive amount of fat and sodium. Better fast food choices include; whole wheat subs, wraps or pitas with vegetables, lean meats or protein alternatives, Greek style meat or poultry kabobs with pita bread and Greek salad, stir fry meals with vegetables, meat, poultry or tofu and rice or noodles, grilled chicken burger with baked potato, and salad with light dressing, pasta with meat sauce, salad and bun or scrambled eggs, English muffin and yogurt with berries.

Challenge: You are going to be at the training camp or competition over multiple days.

Nutrition plan: Rather than relying on restaurant foods the whole time you are away choose a hotel that has a small fridge, freezer and microwave in your room. Prepare some of your own nutritious meals. With a bit of creativity an athlete can create their own high performance meal (which can also help the food budget when travelling away from home).

There are many more scenarios that athletes will face when travelling. Athletes can stay on track with good nutrition by planning and preparing ahead of time as part of their competition and training routine.

Kimberlee Brooks, RD, MSc, is a sport dietitian with the Alberta Sport Development Centre and can be reached at asdc@mhc.ab.ca.

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