30 Aug How to stay healthy when travelling; nutrition for the travelling athlete
Travel can be an important part of life as an athlete and it is vital for you to know how to stay healthy when travelling. Whether you are an elite or competitive athlete, there is a good chance you have travelled to a race, and after all the hard work in training you want to arrive in the best shape possible. After travelling to Canada and Kona to race, I’ve put together my top 10 tips for nailing your nutrition as a travelling athlete…
- Hydration: This is vital – stay hydrated to combat the low humidity environment of the plane cabin by drinking plenty of water. Take your own water bottle and fill it at the airport after check-in and try adding Himalayan pink salt to your water, as it contains over 60 trace minerals. The added minerals such as sodium and potassium will help open your cells to absorb the water better.
- Add Supplements: These can help to strengthen your immune to combat fatigue and illness. I love adding a Vitamin C/Echinacea effervescent tablet to water to help combat potential germs or viruses I’m exposed to (plus it makes the water taste better, so I drink more!). Taking probiotics before and during the trip when heading to a country that offers a different style of food maintains the balance of good bacteria in my stomach and reduce the chance of an upset tummy.
- Use Coffee Wisely: To minimise the impact on sleep and melatonin, only consume caffeine within 6hrs of waking. However, if you’re aiming to delay your sleep time, taking 200mg caffeine 3-hrs before your usual sleep time may help put off the noddies????
- Snacks: 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 rubbish on offer.
- Meals: Tryptophan, a building block for melatonin increases our natural melatonin production. Tryptophan is found in protein-containing foods, so a well-rounded meal containing proteins, carbohydrates and fats should enhance your natural melatonin production and potentially minimise jet-lag. Our hot tip: avoid inflammatory and high carb/fat junk foods at airports and roadhouses. I love to chose the vegetarian meal on flights as you get served first, plus they are often rice based (great for carb loading!).
- Protein: When you travel for a big race you will often have a few days of light training once you arrive; try and keep your routine similar to home so pack a few serves of your normal protein powder to ensure your recovery and to keep your routine and digestion consistent.
- Beat Jet-Lag: Reset your body clock naturally: 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.
- Keep up Your Nutrients: Pre-packed travel foods are notoriously low on nutrients, so at airports look for the salad and veg options (yes they can be found!). Try a green smoothie or even better, pack your own supergreens powder from home which is the perfect antioxidant-nutrient boost.
- Think about your first meal when landing/arriving: Its been hours… you’re exhausted… and you really don’t know where to start in a new city to get a wholesome meal. Either do your research before you get there or think about packing or purchasing something simple like a sachet of porridge oats and a banana to get your started.
- Pack your own race day nutrition: This is super important – race with the nutrition that you have trained with. There is no need to rely on what is on offer at a race, so pack plenty for race day and also for your carb loading days. If you need help planning this out, have a read here for our carb loading tips to feel light and lean on race day.
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.
What is your favourite travel tip? Do you have a food you always love to travel with?
Let us know in the comments, I would love to know????