Traveling is enthralling for anyone who loves indulging in new experiences, different cuisines and sightseeing. But when you’re an athlete, traveling can be quite challenging because you need to follow a specific eating pattern and routine to meet the nutrient needs for training and competition. This involves carbs in ample quantities, proteins in moderation, fat in low quantities and adequate hydration – all of which can go haywire in a new place!
Some Challenges that Athletes Face Include:
- Availability of healthy food options
- Unknown food options available
- Contaminated food and water
- Unfavourable weather conditions
- Jet lag
Ways to Overcome Challenges While Travelling
1. On Road Travel
- The meals should be pre-purchased and carried for the team from reliable restaurants or stores. Foods include packaged meals, energy bars, fruits, roasted grams or peanuts, nuts, sandwiches, etc. to avoid eating food from roadside stalls.
- Carry sufficient water to avoid dehydration and to avoid having water from outside which may be contaminated.
- Look out for restaurants or food outlets which provide healthy food options.
- Always practice Portion Control while on the move to avoid accumulation of excess calories in the body.
2. Inflight Meal Planning
- Avoid eating flight food as its high on fats and sugars leading to intake of unwanted excess calories. Rather eat healthy food which you can carry with you.
- Hydrate yourself well by drinking adequate water and unsweetened fruit juices as jet lag can cause digestion issues.
- Make sure to replenish stocked water once it’s over.
3. On Arriving at the Destination
- Get to know the place well and the food options available there. In case some foods are unknown, get to know about them in terms of the nutritional values and ingredients to make sure the food is appropriate enough to be eaten.
- Upon reaching the destination, the coach or the team manager should do a detailed research for suitable restaurants and grocery stores.
- Athletes should include healthy foods such as whole grains, pulses, vegetables, fruits and lean meat for optimum nutrition.
- Ask how many times you might be eating out during the stay.
- Eat only when hungry and stop when full. In other words practise mindful eating.
- Check for availability of sports supplementing foods in the stores around.
- Try and have only bottled water to avoid water borne diseases like typhoid or diarrhoea and use the same for drinking and washing fruits or vegetables before consumption and if possible, even for brushing teeth. Also try and avoid ice cubes.
- Always consume whole fruits and vegetables that can be peeled. Avoid consuming fruit juices as contaminated water and ice cubes may be used.
4. Before the Competition Begins
- Make sure to have a good pre-workout snack 30 minutes before the competition starts. Include carbohydrates, proteins and low fats.
- Try and have a good post workout meal within 30 minutes of the competition like whey protein.
- Space your meals accordingly and appropriately before the competition starts. Don’t stuff your stomach before the competition starts.
- Consume branded bottled water before the competition.
Athletes may stay in a normal hotel or even fully equipped suites. They may face challenges as optimum nutrition supports their performance. Hence, pre-planning or an intelligent strategy to overcome the above mentioned challenges may prevent hindrances faced by an athlete and help them perform at their best!
For more tips, you can check out fitness and nutrition classes by experts for athletes on GOQii Play!