Five tips for eating well on the road

If the end of the fall season has you traveling for tournaments, meets or the state championship, you may be wondering how to eat well while on the road. We’ve got you covered.

These 6 tips can help you meet your performance nutrition goals when you’re away from home:

  1. Fuel up with carbohydrates and protein. Whether eating out or packing your own foods, make sure to continue to emphasize carbohydrates at each meal. Carbohydrates serve as fuel for active muscles and act to refill muscle energy stores post-exercise. In addition to carbohydrates, make sure you include protein-rich foods such as lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, nut butters and dairy foods.
  2. Pack smart. Oftentimes, athletes have specific foods they enjoy before and after a workout. If that’s you, and those foods will not be available where you’re going, prepare a “travel pack” with snacks and beverages that support your performance eating plan. Try packing trail mix with dried fruit and nuts, fresh whole fruit, bagels with nut butter, dry cereal and sports drinks. If you have a cooler, throw in some string cheese, yogurts, sliced/cut fruits and vegetables, and single-serve chocolate milks.
  3. Choose wisely. If traveling has you eating out, consider these tips and tricks…
    1. Fast Food: Choose items that emphasize protein and carbohydrates such as a grilled chicken sandwich or hamburger. Steer clear of fried or breaded items, choose a side salad or fresh fruit in place of fries, say “no” to supersized options and don’t be afraid to special order – asking to hold the condiments or dressings on the side.
    2. Choose Milk: Milk, both white and chocolate, is 90 percent water; contains electrolytes to replenish what is lost in sweat; has ample carbohydrates for refueling muscle glycogen stores; and has high-quality protein which helps with muscle recovery and repair. Enjoy an ice cold glass of white or chocolate milk, instead of soda, with your meal.
    3. Look for Key Words: Baked, broiled, grilled or steamed tend to indicate lower-fat cooking methods while dishes with the words fried, breaded, scalloped and basted tend to indicate higher-fat/calorie-dense cooking methods. High-fat foods tend to sit heavy and may not be ideal prior to activity.
  4. Stay hydrated. Water is the most important part of any athlete’s diet. And while the goal is to drink enough fluid daily to prevent thirst and to stay hydrated prior to the big match, meet or game, drinking enough fluids while on the road can sometimes be a challenge. Take along a large water bottle and aim to fill it up two to three times throughout the day (even if that means stopping at all of the rest stops along the way!).
  5. Don’t forget breakfast! True, it’s just one meal, but breakfast is the most important meal. Eating breakfast gets you started on the right foot for the day, and research shows it may improve nutrient intakes, enhance your sports performance and help you get good grades in school. If your hotel offers breakfast, choose a meal with protein and carbohydrates – such as toast or a bagel with peanut butter, cereal with milk or yogurt with a hardboiled egg and some fresh fruit. If it doesn’t offer breakfast, see tip #2 for packing smart.

Athletes can train harder and perform better with proper nutrition. Visit WesternDairyAssociation.org to read more about milk as an exercise recovery beverage and learn how to eat for peak athletic performance.